Tokyo! Japan’s busiest capital city.
What is an appropriate word to describe Tokyo?
I say, WEIRD in so many levels!
From extra modern to historical wherein it comes to a point that it’s weirdly amusing because every corner of Tokyo is entertaining in its own quirky way. One of the best cities I have visited so far. HANDS DOWN!
Pardon me if I’ll be doing back to back entries on Japan. I love it too much that I have to do different blogs in terms of travel, food, and experience!
As a culinarian, travelling means food exploration and boy, Tokyo is indeed a place of flavour profile. From their fresh sushi, over the top ramen, and even crazy mixed up desserts! I believe I gained a few pounds just by lurking around every food corner of Japan.
I won’t be going into details on every meal I devoured but below are some of my top favorites from the trip.
When I was in the USA, I noticed that when you say ramen, most people only know the instant packet ramens that usually cost for a dollar or less. You absolutely have no freaking idea what you are missing! The real ramen is heavenly and it is something you would crave for! I have an obsession with ramen and compared to the instant ramen, this is not a “I’m broke kind of meal”. What better way to have this divine dish is to try it in Japan itself specifically in ICHIRAN. Ramen involves fresh noodles! When I say fresh, it is hand made, along with a thick and rich pork broth, spices, scallions, slices of pork, and a few tamago (custard like soft boiled eggs) which is personally my favorite.
Ichiran Ramen has been around Japan since the 60’s and up until now you will always encounter a long queue on every visit. They are known for having the best ramen but I’m sure there are other great ramen places all over Japan. As a first time visitor, I would recommend you to check this place out though. No dissappointments, that I can assure you! wink*
My family and I have always been a fan of sukiyaki especially since we consider it as a japanese comfort food so we wouldn’t miss the chance on trying this dish in Japan.
Sukiyaki is similar in style with Shabu Shabu because they both use vegetables and thinly sliced meat and are usually served with a dipping sauce. Shabu Shabu is cooked like a soup and is less savoury or sweet in flavor unlike Sukiyaki, it is cooked skillet style and it is seasoned with soy sauce, sugar, mirin and dashi which gives it a rich flavor.
The ingredients for sukiyaki is traditionally dipped in beaten raw eggs after being cooked in the pot, and then eaten.
I enjoyed this meal very much as it gives a comforting sensation and it is a perfect go to dish during cold seasons.
3. WHALE SUSHI & STEAK
So before you start judging me for consuming whale meat, hear me out!
My food exploration is not solely just to eat and tick a to do list. Food is and have always been a part of culture. I explore tradition through experiencing the culinary aspect of one’s country and whale meat has always been a tradition in Japan since the 20th century.
I apologize if some will not be comfortable, I do have my own opinions and you do you but you can always skip this part and proceed to the next food item. For the curious souls out there, do continue reading. 😉
Whale meat was a very important source of food for ancient people in Japan. I know most people are worried about the whales’ extinction but to preserve tradition, Japan has provided laws against whaling. They do have standard quotas and regulations on how whales can be hunted thus protecting the whales’ overall population.
I’m pretty sure most people are curious with what it taste like.
Well, whale meat don’t taste fishy at all. Especially when it is served fresh, it is really juicy and delicate. It is a very lean red meat and the taste is very similar to a steak. Some may say it has similarities with other gamey meat. I did enjoy this traditional dish but I wouldn’t recommend it if you have a soft spot for whales or any sort of animals.
This may be just fluffy scrambled eggs but not everyone can perfectly cook a tamagoyaki. Creating this simple beauty requires skill and great control of cooking temperature. It is lightly flavoured with dashi broth which are extracted from bonito flakes. I was able to get myself a stick of this in one of my visits in Tsukiji Market at Yamachō. Yamacho is one of the few tamagoyaki omelet shops in the market. I enjoyed staying close to these shops because of the outstanding tamago cooking skills of the chefs! ❤️
Upon exploring Tsukiji Market, I came across a mochi stall and I had to try these soft gooey goodness! Mochi are japanese rice cakes made of mochigome aka glutinous rice. They usually come in variety of flavours but me and my brother tried the kinako(soybeen flour), green tea, and black sesame mochi. I swear, just within the market, I was pretty overwhelmed and I was having a tastebud sensation all over me! LOL
The highlight of my Tsukiji Market trip is none other than the fresh sushi. Fresh fish is imported to Tsukiji and exported throughout the rest of Japan. Tsukiji Market is divided into two markets- the inner market where wholesalers and restaurant owners take their time and bid for the freshest and highest quality fish that is available. For tourists, you could take a glimpse of the Tuna Auction but you can only experience this through tourists groups and getting up really early in the morning. I skipped this part since the outer market is already very vibrant as it is! This is were most food stalls are located. From melt in the mouth tuna to grilled eel, variety of sweets, dried herbs, green tea, teapots, and even hand-made chef’s knives. I felt like I was in gastronomical paradise! ❤️
Aside from the ones listed above, there are still a lot of great eats that can be found in Tokyo and I would definitely love to go back and do some more exploring especially within the food scene. I hope this blog can be useful for those who have future plans on visiting Japan. Or might as well just wander around for I’m sure there will always be amazing food wherever you will be in the city.