Food Highlights from a Short Japan Trip
Last week I was in Tokyo on a short business trip. Other than Engrish-hunting, my favorite thing about Japan is the food. Having lived there for 10 years previously I developed a pretty good palate for various types of Japanese food, and I thought that I would share the highlights of what I ate while I was there.
The first restaurant I went to the night I arrived was Inakaya Roppongi– a traditional robatayaki style restaurant where customers sit around an open hearth on which chefs grill seafood and vegetables. The fresh ingredients are displayed for customers to point at whenever they want to order. This video I took should give a good feel for what they are about:
Kinda loud. Every time they bring out something new they have to yell it out to everyone.
The place is fairly expensive – it is not something that you go and eat every other week.
This fish, called “Kinmedai” in Japanese, is the best fish I have ever had. Every bite was fluffy and oily – the perfect combination. Needless to say I tore this sucker up!
The next day we went to a tempura place, and to top the meal off at the end I had this “chazuke” dish (green tea poured over rice with shrimp tempura). It may be an acquired taste, but I thought the presentation was nice enough to share:
This next dish is one of my favorites – it is a type of Chinese ramen called Tan-tan-men in Japanese (担々麺）that features a spicy soup with ground sesame paste. There is this hole in the wall in Ginza called Kounanshun (江南春) that is the best I have had, so I try to go there every time I am in Tokyo:
The flavors are amazing – the combination of the ground pork, soup, noodles and bean sprouts all together are the perfect balance.
The last place I’ll talk about here is only the best ramen in the world IMHO. It is a place in Sano Tochigi (Sano is known for their ramen) – about 2 hours outside of central Tokyo – called Banri (万里）. This ramen is to die for – that charsiu on top melts in your mouth and the noodles are hand made every day:
The soup is a shoyu (soy sauce) based soup that was likely simmering for a day or two before served. Just the right amount of grease too. The place is usually pretty crowded, with long lines forming outside the shop especially on weekends.
As a reward for reading through my self-indulgent obsession with Japanese food, I’ll share an Engrish sign that was right in front of me on the bus ride back to the airport. I was staring at this thing for 2 hours until it ceased to become Engrish to my eyes…
Funny thing is the sign effectively blocks you from putting anything on ‘this top’ anyway – not even room for canned coffee.