By the time we arrived at our hotel in Shinjuku in the early evening, we were absolutely exhausted. It’s a long, long way from London to Tokyo! After checking in and taking all our luggage into our room all we wanted was a quick early dinner and to go straight to sleep.
But when we stepped out of our hotel, we discovered that the nearest eating options were an Italian trattoria, a Starbucks and a doughnut shop. Without walking further than we had the energy for that evening, the only Japanese option we found was a small canteen within a nearby food store, Konne.
At the entrance to the dining area was a vending machine with no English instructions or menu descriptions. We weren’t sure what we were meant to do. During my research, I had read about restaurants where you place an order via the vending machine, pass the ticket on to the staff for fulfilment and wait for your food to be served.This sounds so simple, and indeed, during the rest of the trip, it was something we did on a number of occasions. But on this first night, we felt nervous, unsure of ourselves, even a little intimidated by our own ignorance…
Keen not to let such a minor challenge defeat us, and very determined not to settle for Italian or Starbucks, we approached the machine. One of the pictures looked rather like curry rice, we thought, and another was surely chicken karaage (deep fried battered chicken) with rice and miso. Even if the chicken turned out to be fish or some other protein, it would likely be perfectly tasty.
1200 Yen (£10) went into the machine, we made our choices and two tickets popped out.
We went inside, handed the tickets to smiling staff and took a couple window seats in the corner. Observing other diners helping themselves to (free) water and tea, we followed suit.
Before long, our dishes were served: a large bowl of meat curry and rice and a plate of freshly fried chicken karaage with a crunchy, dressed salad, a bowl of rice and miso soup.
Tasty and filling, both meals were quickly demolished.
Less than an hour later, we were tucked into bed, snoring gently and dreaming of tomorrow…
Only later did I discover that Konne is a well-known shop specialising in goods from Miyazaki Prefecture on Kyushu Island in the South of the country. The restaurant offers a small selection of set meals prepared with ingredients from this region.
Address: 2-2-1 Yoyogi, Shinjuku Southern Terrace, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo
Open 7 days a week 11.00 – 20:30.