One of the things I was most looking forward to in Japan was the food! I wanted to try new things and eat more authentic versions of the Japanese food I already loved! So far we have not had a bad meal here, there are hundreds of restaurants, most of them tiny, and more often than not they specialise in a certain type of japanese cuisine such as sushi, soba, ramen or tempura.
What I hadn’t considered was just how difficult it would be to choose a restaurant to eat in, first there as so many you are really spoiled for choice, secondly, you cannot see inside a lot of the restaurants so they can be a bit intimidating, and lastly, you don’t know what type of restaurant it is unless there are pictures as you cannot read anything. Even if you go off a recommendation from the guide book you still don’t know if you have the right restaurant as the names are all in Japanese.
The run of the mill restaurants usually have plastic models of the food outside, which does help. However, when you come to order you cannot read the menu. They also have restaurants with vending machines at the entrance, so you put in your money and press of the meal you want and get a ticket, you then give the ticket to the counter and wait for your food. As we cannot read the meal names we have resorted to playing ‘pot luck’ and just seeing what we get. This game is fun but can be dangerous as J mistakenly ordered a kilo of ramen (thick noodles) for dinner and it took him about 2 hours to try and eat his way through it. This was 2 days ago and he is still full!
We have found some really nice most European style breakfast places where we like to go before school. But on our first day we got up at 5am and went off to the fish market to look around. We wandered the streets for hours waiting for places to open for breakfast and by the time they did at 9/10am we were starving. We went into a little place in Asakusa which was a cross between an american diner and a parisien art deco cafe and the only thing on the menu was a boiled egg with bread and a coffee!
Boulangerie A in Sanbancho had baked goods as well as bacon sandwiches and cheese and ham on toast, we go at 8am and they are still putting everything out but they are more than happy for us to sit there and do our homework!
Factory Bakery is another favourite a few minutes from us, it has the most amazing looking bread and yummy salami bagels. They also do a set menu of toast and coffee/tea which is nice in the morning. They call the bread ‘english bread’ which is like a massive doorstop style wedge of brioche like bread.
While out viewing the cherry blossom we got some lunch from one off the street food stands in Ueno Park, there was a massive selection of different things, a lot of which we had no idea if it was animal/mineral or vegetable! J went for duck and leek on a stick and I had noodles fried into a disk (2 of them) to the outsides of a sandwich with vegetables and ham inside which some sauce pored into it.
There are so many restaurants around our school and we want to try as many of them as possible. On our first day after class we tried a traditional japanese fast food joint. J had noodles and I had goyza with rice and soup. Both were yummy!!!
Canal Cafe: Later in the week we wanted to take advantage of this gorgeous spot on the river near our school where the blossom was still out. We didn’t really care what food we ate, it was more about the scenery. I had a margarita pizza which was ok (ish) and J had a thai curry. The food was just fine but eating it under the sun and cherry blossom was wonderful!
Tsunahashi – After our first day exploring we went to a tempura restaurant in Shinjuku, we couldn’t read the menu so it was the point at something and see what you get game! It was very good and the restaurant itself was lovely as we sat right next to them making it, a Lonely Planet recommendation but I think we can find even better quality tempura.
Kiyoshi – Later on in the week we went for a recommendation from our airbnb host and went to a traditional sushi place down the road from our flat. They spoke no english and the menu was only in Japanese! Cocky from my two days of learning hiragana I tried to read the menu, frustrated and not getting anywhere the waitress came up to me and kindly turned it the right way round! The menu reading was a fail but the food was a hit! We were given boiled octopus to start which was very chewy but tasty. Then we had the ‘chef choice’ of fresh sushi/sashimi of the day and it was amazing! The tuna was melt in your mouth good!!!
More food blogs coming soon…..