I am a foodie first and health freak next.. It’s a truth that I want to stay fit but not at the cost of food I love. So I work out regularly but eat almost anything (not oily and fried though) and everything, party and live life. I also love travelling and I am lucky enough that I got some opportunities to travel out of India and that way I got a chance to try some good food, exotic cuisines and tick some items in my Food wishlist (yes, I have one 😀 ). Being a south Indian, that too a malayalee I like non-vegetarian and I prefer that most. My food experiments are mostly on the non-vegetarian side. This is my best food experience, My Tokyo food diary 🙂
I was on an official trip to Tokyo and I decided, this is the time to unleash your foodie and try anything & everything. Sushi, sashimi, Yakitori, Okonomiyaki, Takoyaki and what not…I didnt knew much about japanese cuisine other than sushi or sashimi. So I started digging about it and the more I surfed, the more I was interested. I made a list of things to do in japan. Breakfast, Well that’s how everyone starts, let me start with lunch for a change 😀
1) Having Soba in a soba joint: Soba joints are the favorite japanese lunch places. If it is a good joint, you will be seeing a large queue of people waiting. Soba noodles looks like sphagetti and they are served in soup ( I had hot soba). Eating them with chopsticks was a experience in itself. I entered the Soba joint with my colleague and he told me what to do. You can choose which kind of Soba you want followed by the sides (side dishes) you like and anything to drink. Once you chose the stuff, then you pay based on the eatables you chose. I looked around and found two seats getting vacant. Sat there and started the magic, eating the yummy soba. You need to Slurp it really (make “slurp” noise when you eat) and if it makes any noise, dont worry they take it as a compliment. When I was eating Soba with Chopsticks, it made me feel that I am a magician with a wand(chopsticks).
2) Okonomiyaki & Yakitori & Takoyaki: I call it the japanese pan cake, but filled with different things and I had tried the one filled with Pork. there are small joints where you should try these things, its fun. You feel like you are a localite (albeit the language, looks and dressing differences). We had a hotplate on our table and Okonomiyaki was prepared on that one, right infront of us. That was awesome, just like we eat fresh Parantha’s. Here you get a chance to prepare it though 🙂
Yakitori: This is a snack. There are small joints which sell beer and other types of drinks and some finger licking snacks. These joints are knows as Izakaya and this is where we used to go for some beer and Yakitori. They look like a kebab on a stick (like seekh kebab) and its a good combination with a beer. I used to work in Central Tokyo and there are several Izakaya’s and I visited many of them. A cold beer and a few skewers of yakitori – charcoal grilled chicken – is an evening ritual for many of Japan’s weekday warriors and that is what I also started following.
Takoyaki – The first time I tried Takoyaki was at a road side joint where you have to stand and have beer or any liquor along with Takoyaki. Takoyaki is known as Octopus balls. It’s made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special takoyaki pan. It is typically filled with minced or diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and green onion.
5) Nomihoudai – Well, this is the most commonly used word by anyone in Japan, especially during evenings and it is a very powerful word too. I had some awesome colleagues who used to take me out for drinks and one of the places I liked most was Watami Square. I am not sure what is the rating given by the officials, but it is a nice joint which is open throughout night. We used to go there after a late day work somewhere close to 11pm and drink till morning, Japanese style. I am a fan of shoichu and hence we mostly used to prefer the same. But starting will always be with a mug of beer, Asahi mostly. They server some good snacks like Tofu, Tempura, croquets, dumplings etc.
5) Dinner at a Sushi bar – Living in Japan and not trying Sushi at a sushi place is a sin, atleast that is what I believe. I love sea food and hence I tried all kinds of seafood in Tokyo starting from Eel tempura, oysters, lobsters and what not. Sushi is a different stuff and the best way to find out the specialty was to check out some sushi joints instead of reading reviews and going to the so called best Sushi bar. There is a chain named Sushizaanmai in Central Tokyo and they serve good sushi at a reasonable price. Again, the best is not this one. So A nice Sushi along with some Sake (japanese liquor) to make the evening grand.
A bit more abour Sushi, Sushi is all about the fish not about how you cook it and hence it is unique.There are sushi joints which use blue fin tuna which costs 34,416USD. I had tried different sushi bars in Tokyo and everywhere I got atleast a minor difference in taste, because of the fish, then the varieties of fishes and mainly ambience of the place. Sushi is a good lunch too 🙂 Heavy one.
Just some more pics of Sushi experiments 🙂
I had stayed in Tokyo for almost 3 months and every single day I used to eat outside atleast once, just to make the most of it. There are many more delicious things to eat there which I had tried and I want to eat more. Irrespective of what people say, Tokyo is a place with a rich and varied food culture, not just local, but international too. You need to try the local cuisine in japan after going there, then you will feel it instead of just trying to figure out if it is good or bad when you eat in a Japanese restaurant anywhere in the world…