I travel for the food. How about you? Drool with me now; it’s time for my Japan food recap! Itadakimasu!
Sushi for breakfast, Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo
This is what dreams are made of. We woke up at 11:30PM Friday and waited until the Tsukiji Fish Market opened at 7AM Saturday. Yaa, we had reverse jet lag. Before breakfast we strolled the Kachidoki Bridge for some just-after-sunrise views. I had the maguro salmon don (left) and Hubby had a kaisen don (right), plus miso soup with a big helping of seaweed. That’s wassup. That fish was fressssh. And I am obsessed with sushi rice.
Noodles for breakfast, Rokurisha, Tokyo
I’m a big fan of being able to eat out somewhere I can have rice or noodles for breakfast. And if there’s a place open by 10AM in the States I am a super fan. It took Hubby and I a while to find the tsukemen (dipping ramen) restaurant on our must-list because buildings in Tokyo are confusing. I saw a line and no English restaurant sign so I stood in line while I matched the Japanese characters with the characters on the Yelp page for confirmation. 🙂 We ordered at a machine and our noods were brought out quickly. This was my first tsukemen experience and now I am spoiled because this place is world famous and delicious. Thank you to my friend / food advisor Myo Myo for the recommendation!
Nagano apparently has ideal weather conditions for producing a number of foods like apples, miso, and sake! They are also known for oyaki dumplings, dango (mochiko dumpling, related to mochi), and soba. Gimme all the Nagano eats! From left to right: assorted mochi, dango, and oyaki; ebi tempura soba and kinoko soba (topped with a local mushroom assortment); and miso (yes, MISO) soft serve. Bonus: I got to watch the soba noodles being made. I could watch this all day.
I discovered my favorite coffee in Nagano (Flower Hamming French Press Seasonal Blend from Maruyama Coffee!), but more on the Japan coffee scene later because it deserves it’s own post. Also, tiny treats that come with coffee are the best. The pink mochi was the softest, most delicate mochi I’ve ever had.
Bento boxes, Kanazawa Station, Kanazawa
You can find a lot of yummy treats at train stations all over Japan. I love it. My favorite find (and prettiest, too) was this pink bento box from a food stand at the Kanazawa Station. We stopped here en route to Kyoto. (We also tried using the day lockers here which was an adventure in itself.) Opening a bento box is like opening a present which doubles as an art piece. I ate this bento under a sakura tree, too, so talk about ambience.
Vending Machine Beverages
We tried all kinds of tasty beverages from vending machines which are everywhere in Japan. Our favorite is the Craftea peach tea. Everytime we saw it we got one (or two because why share?). We also tried Craft Boss tea (for obvious reasons), peach Coke, coffee, and orange tea.
Convenience Store Finds
On our must try list was the egg salad sandwich from Lawson. Anthony Bourdain swore by them on an episode of Parts Unknown. Pretty much every time we passed by a Lawson we grabbed a sandwich or two for on-the-go snacks. It was easy because there were Lawson convenience stores everywhere. Hubby wanted to try every new chip flavor, too. Some were more pleasant than others. For example, egg salad flavor chips should not be a thing. Also fun: you can find boba in the drink section! My favorite convenience store find: white peach sorbet balls (from Family Mart)!
Street Food and Small Shops
For breakfast one morning, we stopped in a bakery in our Tokyo neighborhood. It was pretty dead inside (so not cute) and we didn’t understand the signs, but we picked various breads (which all looked super boring) to try. Surprise! Each was filled or coated with magical things! Some were savory, some were sweet. One reminded us of churros, another of French toast, another of Porto’s potato balls (with a Japanese curry twist). Take me back!
We also tried oden (fish cake stew) served on sticks at Garyu Park near Nagano, red bean and custard taiyaki at a small stand in the Midori neighborhood of Tokyo, and fried goodies at a market in the Midori neighborhood. Plus, takoyaki and tofu donuts at the Nishiki Market in Kyoto.
Fluffy pancakes, A Happy Pancake, Tokyo
There are pancake restaurants. What a concept. I’m pretty sure I inhaled these pancakes. OMG, they are so fluffy! And Hubby’s came with a milk tea syrup of sorts. You must try these; you must try these now.
Tofu, Saga Tofu Ine, Arashiyama, Kyoto
Basically, everything in Kyoto is cute and beautifully presented (ok fine, that’s true for all of Japan). In Kyoto, my wish list food place was Saga Tofu Ine in Arashiyama. We each ordered a tofu set – a tray full of soups, desserts, rice dishes, and pickles. I dream of this meal, particularly the Tofu Chawanmushi (a steamed savory tofu custard).
Star-shaped hashbrowns, Moxy, Tokyo
For our last two meals in Japan, we were over trying to find things. Also, we really wanted fries. 🙂 So we enjoyed dinner and then breakfast in our hotel. Highlight: STAR-SHAPED HASHBROWNS! That is all I have to say. Also, we went back for seconds.
Airplane/Airport Food, Asiana Airlines, SFO to Seoul to Tokyo and back
Yes, airplane food. We took Asiana Airlines to/from Tokyo just so I could eat Korean food on a plane – bibimbap, ssambap, kimchee fried rice. Yez. Plus, we spent a few hours at the Incheon airport (for our stopover and also a 7-hour delay!) so we tried so many treats including Gong Cha’s “strawberry jewel” drink, kimchee udon, sobok injeolmi ice balls, and wagyu and bugolgi beef burgers. Plus, face mask shopping (that’s food for your skin!).
Phew, that was a lengthy one, but you best believe there was a lot more snacking than what I am highlighting here. 😉 What are some of your favorite Japanese eats and treats? Share below!