So instead of recommending restaurants, I think it'd be much more useful to high beam the TOP 6 MUST EAT dishes in Japan. Plus, if you're like me (and safe to say most foreign travellers) getting lost in Japan is 175.5% going to happen (believe me!), so STUMBLING across places to try these dishes whilst on your travels is what makes it ADVENTUROUS, FUN and VERY JAPAN :)
Get your reserved stomachs and open minded palate in gear ready for the ride!
1. FRESH HANDMADE NOODLES - RAMEN, UDON & SOBA
ARE YOU HUNGRY YET? I am!
2. GENUINE JAPANESE KOBE BEEF
SO DEFINITELY TRY IT! It just melts in your mouth because it's marbled with lots of fat and seasoned with the perfect amount of salt and pepper! It was so so nice yet so very evil ... I could feel my arteries clogging.
We had it at Misono in Shinjuku, Tokyo and would recommend it for it's great views of Tokyo, food and dining experience. It's known as the original Teppankai steakhouse but without food being thrown at you. It ain't cheap (approximately 20,000 yen per person for the cheapest Kobe course), but a worthy splurge.
We also enjoyed it (a lot!) in smaller, cheaper quantities elsewhere but I can't even begin to describe (or rather translate) what they were called, just that they were in Roppongi, Tokyo, and a cute onsen town called Kinosaki. Just explore where ever you are ... you'll find good places too.
3. FRESH SEAFOOD - SUSHI & SASHIMI
Having a sushi and sashimi breakfast isn't usually my thing, but it's WORTH THE EXPERIENCE here! The salmon and tuna is SO FRESH. Mr Freckles and I were quite adventurous trying raw seafood out of our comfort zone - octopus, sea urchins, sardines and prawns. Although that once is enough for me, I'm glad I tried them. I gave the pufferfish / fugu and whale a miss though!
If you don't get to the fish market, there are plenty of other great and good value places with fresh seafood in Japan. Try the standing sushi bars and izakaya's (Japanese tapas bar) for lunch or dinner. If you can't quite do raw, cooked local crab and scallops are also yummy.
The most popular version is the OSAKA STYLE where meat and vegetables are MIXED together into the batter, fried on a hot plate for that crispy smoky texture on the outside, then topped with lots of sauce and garnishes. The KYOTO STYLE (bottom left photo) has the pancake FOLDED over and consists of scallions, thinly sliced pork and pretty much raw egg. The HIROSHIMA STYLE (bottom right photo) includes noodles, meat, cabbage, egg and LAYERS the ingredients instead.
Either way, you're in for a dish full of flavours and textures to excite your taste buds. It's quite filling, so the best strategy is to share it. Off the Spork does a great review of the Osaka and Hiroshima styles, if you want to know more about the dish.
6. JAPANESE SWEETS
My PERSONAL FAV of all the Japanese sweets is the GREEN TEA ICE CREAM with red bean, jelly and mochi. hmmmm ..... yum, I even had it for breakfast. I LOVE ICE CREAM and this hits the spot. Refreshing and a nice balance of sweet with green tea twang. There are a lot of green tea flavoured sweets in Japan from chocolate drizzled skewer balls to cheesecake, waffles, Kit-Kats (yum), Oreos ... I've become a green tea everything addict now.
Other sweets you must try as they are traditional to Japan is the YATSUHASHI (triangle shaped sweets in many different flavours found in Kyoto), and MOCHI balls (sesame and the ice cream ones are yum). If you've never tried or liked glutinous type sweets, you'll probably find the chewy texture a bit challenging at first. Try it anyway at least once.
Last one on my sweet list is CHOCOLATE COATED POTATO CHIPS. Sounds weird, but it works! If you like salted caramel desserts I think you're going to like this sweet salty combo. WARNING: It's highly addictive, so stop after a few only or else you will feel sick! Very moorish indeed.
If you've been on the ride too, what was your fav food to eat?
xo Miss Freckles