We were left to our own devices on Wednesday, with a recommendation from Matt that we flee the heat by catching the train up the hill to the Hakone Open Air Museum. It was surprisingly great - beautiful views, tranquil parkland, a natural hot spring foot-bath and dozens of brilliant outdoor sculptures to explore. The slideshow below captures the highlights - I really recommend making the trip up if you've got some spare time, especially if the Tokyo heat is getting to you.
The food options up the mountain were pretty limited - we loaded up on chips and mochi at the supermarket and snacked our way through the trip up, before pouncing on some inari on the way down. We were lured in to the little snack shop by the plastic model of inari on the table outside and were thrilled when the owner whipped up a freshly made box for us to take away. Brilliant.
Our aim on our return to Tokyo proper was a visit to the vegetarian ramen place T's Tan Tan (one of the recommendations on this wonderfully helpful post on The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry). It's buried deep in the sprawling Tokyo train station and we spent a good half an hour wandering about struggling to spot it. We actually had pretty decent directions, but it took a few stops at the train station maps for us to eventually pin it down.
It was well worth the effort - a fully vegan menu focussing heavily on ramen and ramen-related delights. I took the set menu option - your choice of ramen plus a small side bowl for between 1050円 and 1200円 (AU$11 - AU$12.60; pictured top left). I picked the shirunashi tantan for my noodle soup - it came with bean sprouts, pot-herb mustard, chilli oil, black vinegar, cashew nuts, peanuts, sesame oil and soy bean meat and was based around a complex and tasty broth (rather than the watery version that vego noodle soups can sometimes rely on). My small bowl accompaniment was the rich and creamy massaman curry, which had a few scattered veggies among the thick sauce and rice. I cooled myself down with an iced coffee, which was sweet and cold but otherwise not that memorable. Cindy went for a smaller meal - the original T's Tan Tan ramen (sesame, peanut, soybean meat and green pak choi in a noodle soup, 800円 ~ $8.40; pictured bottom right) and an accompanying cup of sweet apple lemonade tea (450円 ~ $4.70). She was just as impressed as I was.
T's Tan Tan is definitely one to add to your Tokyo checklist - it's got a bit of a food court vibe about it, but the food is cheap, delicious and lacking any fish-related concerns. Ramen is such a Japanese classic and one that is challenging to track down in a properly vegetarian form, so we were thrilled to eat so well here.