Tokyo Eating out guide
BY NATASCHA SHAH
The best part about Tokyo was stepping into a swanky sushi bar at 3 am and eating possibly the most fresh and delicious sushi with a glass of sake! Japan has the most interesting cuisine to offer with dishes that will explode your taste buds and Japanese food is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage!
Wait to be seated
You cannot just walk straight in and grab a seat in Japan- wait to be greeted with Irasshaimase meaning Welcome, please come in, and follow the waitress/waiter.
Besides the regular seating, many eateries in Japan offer Zashiki style seating, which is low traditional tables where you remove your shoes and sit on pillows on the floor. Some offer both.
Smoking is permitted in many restaurants in Japan. Usually both smoking (kitsuen) and non-smoking (kinen) sections are available.
Biting the food
Avoid biting your food into two halves. The Japanese prefer eating one whole bite and do not like to leave half eaten food on the plate.
Be careful with chopsticks
Never, pass food with your chopsticks, Doing so reminds the Japanese of the ritual of passing cremated bones between chopsticks at funerals. The same rule applies to sticking your chopsticks into a bowl of rice vertically. If you want to put down your chopsticks, you should do so on a chopstick rest.
Paying the Bill
In most restaurants you are supposed to bring your bill to the cashier near the exit when leaving, as it is not common to pay at the table. It is not customary to tip in Japan and often considered rude.
In Kaiseki cuisine both the preparation methods and appearance are refined. Only seasonal ingredients are used or sometimes ingredients called "Hashiri" that have been harvested before their seasons are included as well. Must try dishes include springtime takenoko (bamboo shoots), autumn matsutake mushrooms, and early summer katsuo (bonito).
Originally a fast food dish in Tokyo, today it is one of the most loved and consumed dishes in the urban cities world-over. The most popular type of sushi- Nigiri, essentially is a piece of seafood put onto a small ball of rice. One can enjoy it all over Japan, from big to small eateries, inexpensive conveyor belt sushi to Michelin-starred restaurants. Tsukiji Fish Market is one of the best places to eat fresh sushi.
Hachibe, 1-7-6 Ebisu, Shibuya
Tsukiji Fish Market, 5-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo
A fan of Sumo wrestling? Then you must try Chankonabe, a hot pot dish, the staple diet of sumo wrestlers. It is a healthy, protein-rich dish that contains mainly fish or chicken and seasonal vegetables. The best place to try chankonabe is at one of the specialty restaurants around the Kokugikan Sumo Stadium in Ryogoku, many of which are run by ex-sumo wrestlers.
Tempura usually tops the lists of all Jap food lovers. It appeals to a wider range of palates as it is fried and fried food has a universal appeal! Seafood, fresh vegetables and other ingredients are dipped in a flour and egg batter and fried and served hot. Japan has many specialist Tempura restaurants.
Yanagibashi Daikokuya, 1-2-1 Yanagibashi, Taito-ku
Tsunahachi, 3-31-8, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
Undoubtedly the best dish that Japanese cuisine has on offer, Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup dish. It consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in meat broth, flavoured with soy sauce or miso, topped with Chashu, which is meat toppings, usually pork. Many japanese restaurants serve Ramen with Chicken Chashu and even veg Ramen (usually contains fish oil and egg), for the travellers. There are many variations of ramen and a wide variety of places offering some interesting options.
Takano, 2-15-10 Nakanobu, Shinagawa-ku
Rokurinsha Tokyo (Ramen Street), 1-9-1 Marunochi, Chiyoda, Tokyo Prefecture
Udon is a Japanese go-to dish, made of noodles made from kneaded wheat flour, and eaten with a sauce made from soy sauce and sugar. The noodles may be ordered with different toppings (tempura, vegetables, etc.), and the menu often changes with the season. Zaru Udon (cold). Zaru Udon noodles are chilled and served on a bamboo mat. They are accompanied by a dipping sauce. Kake Udon is a basic udon dish, served in a hot broth that covers the noodles. It has no toppings and is usually garnished with only green onions. Chikara Udon is udon noodles served with the addition of a rice cake (mochi) in the hot broth.
Taniya, 2-15-17 Nihonbashi-Ningyocho, Chuo-ku
Mentsu-dan, 7-9-15, Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
Mochi is a chewy Japanese rice cake, a common ingredient for Japanese dishes, desserts and confections. Small colourful balls of mochi stuffed with ice cream or flavoured Mochi is a popular Japanese dessert and an item to bring back!
Mochi Cream, B2 Mitsukoshi Alcott, 3-29-1 Shinjuku
Ginza Akebono Mochi Shop, 5-7-19 Ginza, Chuo