Adventure Food Time!
Besides missing the sights, sounds, people, and atmosphere in Japan, I believe the food is what I’ll miss the most. During my two-week stay in Japan, there was never a bad meal that I purchased from the cities that I’ve visited (Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka). Every meal, from the expensive marbled steaks and sushi, to the cheap convenience store sandwiches and even the American hamburgers, was delicious and satisfying. As someone once said “a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” I can easily say food in Japan has definitely found my heart (hopefully not the arteries). These series of articles will act as a guide and highlight some of the foods I’ve eaten in Japan, and also some tips on eating etiquettes that I’ve learned from the Japanese friends I’ve made there!
The first thing that comes to mind when someone asks me about Japanese food is sushi. Ramen would be a close second. Sushi is extremely popular in Japan, and depending on where you go to eat sushi, you could spend up to about ¥11,000 (roughly $100, well worth it!) per person for high quality sushi. Unlike the United States of America, the majority of sushi you will most likely find are sashimi and nigiri, sashimi being just cuts of raw fish, and nigiri being raw fish pressed onto seasoned rice. Those “California rolls” and mayonnaise doused sushi rolls are pretty much nonexistent in Japan.
For high quality sushi, my friend recommended Sushi Zanmai, located in the heart of Tsukiji Fish Market. I can arguably say that this restarurant was by far the best sushi I’ve ever eaten, and it was well worth the ¥11,000 bill I’ve racked up for myself. Tuna is the most popular fish eaten in Japan, and the cuts of tuna you get are generally much different than the ones you get in the States. Tuna can range from lean, medium, and fatty cuts depending on what you order, with fatty tuna being more expensive. There are a variety of other fish on the menu, and I would suggest that you try them out! Tsukiji Fish Market is a tourist attraction, so expect lots of locals and foreigners alike roaming the small alleyways of Tsukiji. Many of the restaurants will also be very busy so you may have to wait in line for sushi here, especially if you’re traveling in groups. It’s best to arrive early to avoid the high traffic that accumulates over time.
Address is〒104-0045 Tōkyō-to, Chūō-ku, Tsukiji, 4 Chome−10, 築地４丁目１０−６. Try copying this exact address and paste it into Google Maps for a location!
We can’t all spend ¥11,000 on every plate of sushi, I certainly couldn’t! So there are alternatives that can save you money and satisfy your sushi craving. “Conveyor belt” sushi restaurants are a cheap alternative way to eating sushi. Many are located throughout Japan, and a quick Google search can find you one instantly. One I went to was called Kurazushi, and surprisingly it’s very good sushi for the price you pay!
These sushi restaurants have a price system based on the design or color of the plate you pick up from the belt. So pay close attention to what you pick! There should be a guide located on the table for pricing information. Most plates are ¥100 ($1) each, which will have 2 pieces of sushi on it. But some can range from ¥500-¥700 per plate. If there isn’t anything to your liking on the conveyor belt, you can always order up sushi on the touch screen, which includes other dishes besides sushi. 6At Kurazushi, every plate acts as a “coin” for the return slot, and every 10 plates starts up a mini-game on the touchscreen. If you win (surprisingly I did) the game, you can get a discount on your bill!
Address is 〒604-8422 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Nakagyō-ku, Nishinokyō Higashigekkōchō, ２２, I believe that this is a chain restaurant so there are locations in Tokyo, search for “Kurazushi” or “Kura Sushi.”
Another conveyor belt sushi place I went to is called Hakodate Kotaro, located in Grand Front Osaka. Address is 〒530-0011 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Kita-ku, Ōfukachō, 4, 北区大深町4-20 グランフロント大阪 南館7F GRAND FRONT OSAKA. This may also be a chain restaurant, so there may be some in the Tokyo area!
Tips on Sushi Etiquette
When eating sushi, depending on what you’ve ordered, there is a “proper” way to eating it, I’m sure there are videos that show you how to do it but I’ll try to explain it as best I can. When using chopsticks on nigiri sushi, once you’ve grabbed a piece of sushi from the main platter, set it on your plate and tip the piece to its side. Grab the piece again and dip the piece fish side down in soy sauce, and eat it fish side first. If you’re not good with chopsticks, you’re still in luck! Using your fingers is perfectly fine as I’ve learned this is considered “finger food.”