When we arrived in the house in Tokyo, it was night and we were hungry. We left our bags and went out to buy something to eat. Luckily, there was this convenience store on the same block so that’s where we went to get our dinner.
Everyone found something to eat, except Coral. She doesn’t really like trying out new food, and everything there was so different… In the end, she decided to share with me, so we were going to have soba noodles.
She hated it. She had 3 bites at most and didn’t want anymore.
And she didn’t eat almost anything on the first 3 days. She did have apples and bread with butter and rice, and little bites of whatever other people were having.
And then, now, a month after our arrival, she’s the crazy lady who eats everything.
Last week, she cried because she wanted to have soba noodles with wasabi (yes, the ones she hated on our first night), the day before she really wanted all the sushi tray for herself alone and the day before that she wanted to go to have kara-age (boneless crumbed chicken pieces).
Japanese food does that to you: it hasn’t got that awesome flavor but it slowly grows on you. Really. Ask Coral.
I’m going to share our favorite foods, that we believe everyone should try:
RAMEN and GYOZA
2 in one because they complete each other. Ramen is a pasta in a bone broth soup. There are usually many different types, like pork bone, soy sauce, misô. My favorite is the abura-soba, which is basically a ramen without the soup. The gyoza is a pan-fried pork dumpling (I did not find a vegetarian one anywhere). Oh, so good!
Our favorite ramen-ya is one right behind Odakyuu Halc shopping mall, called Ikkakuya. They have the juiciest gyozas ever.
Do try a little of the chili paste, yum!
Teishoku is how they call the usual combination of food a home would have: rice, miso soup, pickles, vegetable and a meat. I love it and find it hard to beat: so healthy, so delicious, so fulfilling and it’s not expensive! There are many stores around, but Ootoya, being cheap, delicious and having a super wide menu, is our favorite. Everyone can find something they want to eat there. But don’t let that hold you from trying other restaurants! I’m yet to try a Japanese food restaurant that isn’t good!
Okay, you should try a good expensive sushi sometimes, made by an expert sushi man, but the kaiten sushi (or conveyor belt sushi) is a lot of fun. My kids love seeing them coming around in little plates, choosing whatever they want and ordering what they want from the screen if it’s taking too long. If you don’t eat much, then it might end up being the same price as other restaurants, but we ate a lot.
The Japanese barbecue. You grill your meat right at the table, at your liking. We went to a cheap all-you-can-eat kind of place, and the kids had a blast. Coral, of course, didn’t like it much, she had lots of candy floss. There are many different yakiniku restaurants, from the cheap all-you-can-eat ones to very expensive pay-per-piece restaurants. Just check the price before you go in. And be aware that clothes will end up smelling like barbecue. Oh, and try the Japanese yakiniku sauce!
There are many bakeries around and we love when we find one that sells cute bread, like Totoro or dogs. They are everywhere. In Tokyo, Shiro-Higê is the cutest choux cream we saw, but there are many adorable bakeries everywhere in Japan! My favorite bread is curry-pan (or curry bread, I love the curry paste inside of the deep fried bread).
This is how the traditional Japanese sweets are called, and there are many different stores, like ones that sell only one type of mochi, to stores that have a wide selection of treats. I like the second option better, even though they aren’t as delicious as the specific ones because we can all choose something that we like. I love anmitsu, which is kanten jelly, azuki beans, fruits and ice cream. Sometimes they come with little mochi balls and are better still. The kids love ichigo-daifuku, which is mochi (rice balls) with strawberry inside. Also delicious.
TAKOYAKI and OKONOMIYAKI
Takoyaki is a little dough ball with a piece of octopus, covered in sauce, mayonnaise and bonito flakes. Okonomiyaki is a dough with whatever filling you want (or is available), with sauce, mayonnaise and bonito flakes. We had the best in Kuromon Market, in Osaka, but all the takoyaki we had were wonderful. Must try!
What’s your favorite food? And check out our Japanese Treats post!