Lunch & Sakura At Shibuya
We tried Chinese food Qibao Maratan and enjoyed viewing the last bits of sakura!
My friend wanted to eat Maratan (which you read as Malatang in Chinese) so we decided to go to this restaurant for lunch.
Malatang translates to "ma" (means numbing), "la" (spicy), "tang" (soup). It gets its name from the main ingredient, mala sauce which is made from Sichuan pepper and dried chilli pepper.
Qibao Maratan is located about 5 minutes on foot from Shibuya Station. It only has 13 seats and reservations are not allowed.
We went on a weekday at the end of March 2021 during lunch hour and we had to wait for a short while.
One thing to note was that payment can only be done by card or electronic money, no cash accepted.
We are led to our seats. Water is self-service and there are all sorts of condiments for you to add to your meal.
It was our first time, so we were just sitting there confused but the staff was very nice. He explained to us how things were done in the restaurant. The main idea was to pick 3 ingredients from the shelves.
You have to first disinfect your hands, take the gloves from the box, and picked at least 3 ingredients. For every extra ingredient added after that is +JPY110. There are also ingredients that are not placed here like different types of meat. You can order it directly from the staff.
Then you pass the container with your ingredients of choice to the staff and inform them which level of spiciness you prefer. There are 0-6 levels to choose from. You can change your soup choice and noodle choice at an upgraded price. You can literally put together your perfect lunch here.
I picked okra, xiaolongbao, bok choy, and meatballs with ginger inside. I opted for level 2 of spiciness because it was the recommended one but it was spicy when it was hot. It became more bearable when it cooled down a little. I didn't change the noodles.
There is quite a strong hint of herbs in the soup. I thought the whole thing was okay but nothing too impressive. The xiaolongbao was nice though. The vermicelli was very chewy and went well with the soup.
My friend also picked 4 ingredients: okra, bok choy, meatballs, and mushroom. She upgraded her soup to the one with more herbs and opted for level 1 spiciness. She wished she went for level 0 instead so I guess if you really can't take spiciness, I recommend going for level 0.
Qibao Maratan may not exactly be my cup of tea, but from how the food was handled and how nice the staff was, I give it about 3.3/5. The location is good but it's also a little confusing with all the construction work Shibuya is currently undergoing.
After much sweat and mucus loss later, we decided to just go around for some last bits of sakura viewing.
There is this famous spot called Sakura Street (Sakuragaokacho in Japanese) that is an entire street with sakura trees on both sides so we decided to check it out.
It was a weekday so there weren't many people enjoying the view that was quite beautiful as it was only slightly after full bloom. Unfortunately, my picture didn't do it any justice.
Hopefully, you will be able to take nicer photos when you are there. I recommend you to take your photos from the overhead bridge or within the street itself but please watch out for cars and not cause any inconveniences if you are taking the photos in the middle of the road!
Till the next time~
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