No, this entire post won’t just be about sushi, because as we were very quick to learn and faster to appreciate, Japanese cuisine is about more than just raw fish. Get ready for some serious gastronomical delights, this is our guide to the best Japanese food:
Our first meal in Tokyo was in an confined Okonomiyaki restaurant adjacent to our apartment building. Coming to Japan we had been instructed not to leave without trying what everyone described as a type of pancake. We followed the tip but we felt that this late dinner was about more than just food, it was a welcoming ceremony.
We understood nothing, experimented with the menu and for our pancake chose variety of veggies. Then our waitress performed her magic and cooked our first okonomiyaki on the hot plate built into our table. With a big splash of mayonesse at the end – the meal was served and eaten (with our chop sticks) in seconds.
In Japan forget the forks – just perfect your art of using chopstick.
We stumbled upon these by pure accident and have only our curiosity and probably hunger to thank for trying them. We were on a street called Omoide Yokocho, meaning Memory Lane. It’s a tight alley you can barely pass with a stroller and it’s famous for street restaurants. But with air thick with smoke, yakitori on the grill as you pass along, a crowd of people it’s more an adventure than a night out in the city.
We order gyoza as a side dish to ramen and we don’t stop eating them until we get back home. Now they haunt my dreams. They are basically dumplings stuffed with a filling made of minced vegetables and ground meat. But in Japan they fill them with just about anything they can think of.
We visited the town of Utsonomiya famous for well over 200 different gyoza-themed eateries. Of course we had to pay one a visit.
Skewers of yakitori – charcoal grilled chicken was another dish we could always count on when it came to kids.
As much as we enjoyed exploring Japan on foot, by train, buses, etc. we loved exploring it by trying and relishing their dishes. I did have sushi at the famous Tsukiji fish market and the tuna was out of this world. But I never expected I’d to crave other delicacies even more. We couldn’t get enough of: tempura, tonkatsu and noodles of all kinds. All with a glass of cold beer – we tried: Asahi, Yebisu, Kirin and Sapporo.
Ramen – staple food for the college kids around the world- are an art form in Japan, with every region having its own variation. It is basically a Japanese noodle soup dish. It’s made of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat- or (occasionally) fish-based broth, with lots of vegetables – such as carrots and cabbage.
Coolkidz pick their favorite: Yakisoba
Thanks to fired (sometimes) grilled Chinese style noodles mixed with pieces of meat, cabbage, carrots, or other vegetables, our kids never went hungry in Japan. We didn’t mind eating them either.
Oh, and while we had to practice chopstick, forks miraculously always seemed to appear for the girls. But I always had a package of small spoons and forks for them, just in case.
Coolkidz final say: The food is good, but be careful when buying desert – you don’t want any green tea flavors or bean flavored ice-creams – learn from our mistakes.