We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Just reminiscing about the food

Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
168 posts
202 reviews
Save Topic
Just reminiscing about the food

I hate the word foodie, so I label myself food snob. That’s not to say I send food back, I’m high maintenance or food has to be elaborate or innovative to impress me. Japan has been my greatest culinary experience to date. My two favorite things: Kobe and a plain bowl of Ramen noodles. Could you get any further away on the food spectrum, in terms of price and flavor. Is there anything more comforting than a bowl of noodles slurped from wooden chop sticks? Anything more divine than Kobe? Not in this food snobs mind. That’s not to take away from any of the many delicious meals I had at countless, and for me, nameless establishments. From the street stalls to the five stars, everything was delicious. So many great dining experiences from the upscale crab place in Osaka(Dohtonbori) to the small yakatori stalls in back alleys, from Monja street in Tokyo to the Takoyaki stands in the food courts. Okonomiyaki in Kyoto to a sushi breakfast at Tsukiji(the sushi in Japan is now the sushi by which all others will be judged, and they will fall short. It’s the care and preparation of the rice and freshness of fish, even on Mondays. And as all “real” sushi lovers know, I’m not talking California and Spicy Tuna rolls here). Honorable mention to the curry fried rices, the gyoza, the green teas( and accessories such as green tea soda, rice noodles, cookies, cakes and jellos), the grilled unagi, Fugu, bento boxes for the train ride, the whale(felt guilty for eating it, but once in a lifetime thing, and it was mighty tasty) and countless other things that either used to swim, crawl or walk and gave up their lives for my culinary delight. Cheers to all the people that work in the all restaurants and make each dining experience memorable through their level of service, respect and food preparation, if only the people here could catch on. Never walked out of a place without getting goodbyes and smiles from at least half the staff and in small places the entire staff. Can’t wait to return. For those of you living in Japan or going there …I am supremely jealous!

London, United...
Level Contributor
416 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Just reminiscing about the food

Can you speak or read Japanese? If not how did you get in restaurants with choosing and ordering the food? This is the thing I am most worried about in my forthcoming holiday to Japan!

Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
18,774 posts
40 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Just reminiscing about the food

adam ... We have found eating out, especially on a budget, surprisingly easy in Japan. Many very ordinary restaurants specialise in a limited number of dishes and a plastic representation of them is displayed in the window. You just get your server to follow you to the window and point at what you want. Sometimes they have a photo menu so you just point at that. Cheap noodle places often have a vending machine at the entrance with photos that you select and pay at and hand the slip to the cook through the hatch. At kaiten sushi places (probably the cheapest way to sample sushi) you just grab what's going past your nose and pay for the number plates you had, as they stack up. And they usually have a colour coded chart at the entrance so you know what I plateful will cost. As to etiquette, just watch what other diners are doing.

Also, to keep costs down, there are loads of street food stalls in certain areas of most cities, which are very inexpensive, where your nose tells you if it's interesting and you just watch the previous person and point. However, eat this food right in front of the stall, don't walk along the street eating and is done in the West.

Department store basement food halls often have free tastings of all sorts of foods so you can decide if you like it or not. While they are not the cheapest places to find food necessarily, if you buy a picnic from them, or ready made up bento box, this can be cheaper than a restaurant (but watch prices carefully as some food items in these food palaces are extraordinarily expensive).

SWT

If you don't already know how to, I'd recommend learning how to eat with chopsticks as they're mostly ubiquitous

west australia
Level Contributor
602 posts
113 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Just reminiscing about the food

Yum, yum, yum!!!!

Down to 4 months to go- Just when I thought it was getting closer to going to Japan now it feels like it's still such a long time away.....I'm hungry.

Nara, Japan
Destination Expert
for Nara, Kamikochi
Level Contributor
8,089 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: Just reminiscing about the food

No stuff for a foodie, but baked/steamed sweet potato sold by street vendors during winter months will perhaps be worth your trying. See some pics here:

http://pixta.jp/photo/559070

http://pics.livedoor.com/u/hajimete714/694026

Yes, I know some folks here will be put off and say, “Is this a joke or what!?”

But believe me or not, the above belie the really good taste it has in its own right. As an ex-avid fan of yaki-imo, the name of the stuff, I do confess here that I still remember to this day how sweet it tasted (where irresistible, tantalizing smell never fail to come along) when I had occasion to share it with my pal in one corner of our high school backyard on a cold winter afternoon, as an innocent lad of 16. Yes, we’d eyed it hours before that at a veggie garden someone had for sure been in charge of, and there was this small incinerator near the compounds, to boot … The idea what if we got caught doing this prank never came around then, lol.

The problem for you will be, if you like to savor a yaki-imo, you most probably can’t predict when/if a vendor is coming. Your hotel concierge won’t be much of a help for that matter. Funny, but asking a policeman you find on the street about its whereabouts will possibly make for this solution. Contrary to the way it looks, the stuff is relatively high in price: 700-1000yens per piece. But you couldn’t complain; think of the “culinary delight” you’d have on the street in an easiest possible manner. Yes, I know more than half the locals won’t eat it right on the spot, but this is Japan, you know. Nobody gives you a dirty look when it comes to yaki-imo. Beware eating too many yaki-imos tend to have you break a wind, just in case, sorry, <g>.

Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
168 posts
202 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Just reminiscing about the food

Adam,

I don't speak or read a lick o Japanese, but this was part of the fun for me. If your an adventorous eater, as I am, it's fun not knowing what's coming out. But lots of restaurants have pictures and on several occassions people from other tables got up and helped me with the menu when they saw I was struggling. There will be a language barrier but just roll with it. No waiter or waitress will become impatient or give you dirty looks for not knowing what your doing. At Yakatori stands waiters would often point on their body as to what part of the animal I was eating....and I ate some crazy stuff. I'm used to heart, livers, and stomach, but pigs windpipe was something completely new to me.

Aoyama Dori and San...
Level Contributor
9,424 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Just reminiscing about the food

I find that when I return from Japan I cannot bear the thought of going to a Japanese restaurant in the US for at least a month. It's not really being a snob, either. It's wanting to have the taste and memories intact. After about a month or so it seems to wear off with me.

Regarding what you found in your journey, it was just skimming the surface of what is really available. If you don't have access to a local food snob host to take you to where the real good food is, try one of these boards:

http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/45

forums.egullet.org/index.php?showforum=326

Both of these are 100% user contributed unlike other sites which are basically digests of a few people's opinions.

Regarding sushi at Tsukiji, it is very good but it is not going to be the top grade fish you might have at a high-end sushiya where price is literally no object. Much of it has to do with the skill of the chef and his choosing of fish at the marketplace. You get a really nice meal there at the market but to move up in class you need to experience omakase at a real special shop, usually a very small place buried in an old dining district with no English signs, no models or menus displayed and very little evidence that there is something very special inside.

But, you have hit on what makes visiting Japan so special for those who can enjoy Japanese food.

Sunshine Coast
Level Contributor
1,692 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: Just reminiscing about the food

The thing about those dept.store food halls is to wait till after 5pm. Then everything gets radically marked down and you can do very well indeed!

They tend to have cheap little cafes as well - great for lunch!

Aoyama Dori and San...
Level Contributor
9,424 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Just reminiscing about the food

Supermarkets do the same thing 30 minutes before closing.

Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
18,774 posts
40 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Just reminiscing about the food

I was so busy answering adam's questions, I completely forgot to add my personal comments regarding food memories and Japan - LOL.

I have been very fortunate and travelled to many parts of the world on trips. Food is probably the most important and interesting part of these trips, if I'm honest, and despite also enjoying so many other aspects of trips, I always remember the food. I could bore for Britain on the dishes I've sampled all around the world! And I have to say, Japan really takes a lot of beating when it comes to so many diferent, wonderful, interesting and unusual food experiences - and as already commented on, from the simplest, cheapest street snack to high class kaiseki banquests. I had not appreciated how besotted I was about food until a friend pointed out that the majority of my trip photos seem to be of food, whether individual dishes or the spread laid out on a table. And, on top of that are the gazillion photos of food markets, food halls and sneaked shots inside restaurant kitchens. Yes, the taste lingers for some time after returning home of especially treasured culinary memories, but the photos are still there years later!

When asked what my dream job would be, I have always answered to be a travel writer, specialising in the food markets of the world. To be commissioned to write a book on that would be heaven!

SWT

Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
168 posts
202 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Just reminiscing about the food

Know exactly what your talking about sussex, photos from every trip I've taken are delightfully littered with pictures of food. I can tell you everything I've eaten on every vacation, however the names of the sights I've seen often slip my mind.