Saturday, 31 May 2014

Food Guide: My favourite meals in Japan

Food in Japan is such of high quality that it`s hard to have a bad meal no matter where you eat. The main focus in Japanese cooking is put on the natural taste of ingredients so everything feels very fresh. You`ll find that some of the best places only specialise in one type of dish which actually makes a lot of sense as it`s better to be the best in one thing rather than being mediocre in a lot of things. At one point of the trip we were so obsessed with the food that we started planning our day activities around where we`re gonna eat next which pretty much sums up the perfect holiday for me. 

The freshest sushi at Sushi Dai

The highlight of our trip was definitely this amazing sushi we had at Sushi Dai in Tokyo- a very small restaurant in the middle of Tsukiji fish market which is the biggest fish market in the world and the place from where the restaurants get their fish. Sushi Dai has a bit of a reputation now as being one of the best places for sushi in Tokyo at a very affordable price. We woke up at 3:30 am to get there by 4am and already found a huge queue waiting outside for the restaurant to open at 5am. Sushi Dai has only 12 seats and the demand is so high that people queue for 3- 4 hours to get in. We were "lucky" enough to fit into the second seating but still had to wait 1 hour and a half but boy it was worth it! Definitely the best sushi I ever had, so fresh and crunchy so I would definitely recommend it, just remember to get there very early in the morning. 
sushi dai
sushi dai review
sushi dai tokyo Delicious yakitori at Torito in Kyoto

Yakitori is a local favourite in Japan and it`s impossible not to find them around every corner. We ate quite a bit of these delicious skewers while we were there as it`s so easy when you`re tired from walking to get inside a yakitori place, have a snack and then walk some more. From all the restaurants we`ve tried two places stood out: one from a very tiny place in Asakusa where we stayed in the first few days which was a bit of a random find and can`t really remember the name as it was only in Japanese characters; and another great meal at Torito in Kyoto which is a more upscale version. The best dishes we`ve had here were the chicken meatballs with raw egg and the chicken wings. My boyfriend also tried the raw chicken but unfortunately I wasn`t so brave. 
torito kyoto
torito yakitori
torito kyoto review
Chicken sashimi
torito raw chicken
Crispy tonkatsu at Maisen

We`ve heard a lot about Maisen which is a tonkatsu restaurant in one of the Shibuya backstreets but when we got in we were slightly freaked out that all the waiters seemed to be wearing white lab coats. I do admit that it did cross my mind for a few seconds that maybe it`s a tourist trap and we`re gonna get butchered and served as tonkatsu for dinner. I know, I know, I`ve watched way to many Japanese horror movies. Fortunately that didn`t happen and the tonkatsu was made from pork and pretty delicious. 
maisen tonkatsu
The traditional kaiseki Japanese meal at Kappo Sakamoto in Kyoto

We`ve had another great meal (I know you`re probably bored by now of me constantly saying how great the food was but I can`t help myself), at Kappo Sakamoto which is a Michelin star restaurant in Kyoto in the old, historic part of the town. Here we got to try a very traditional multi-course Japanese meal which consist of loads of small dishes also known as kaiseki. The highlights for me were definitely the sashimi, the duck (amazing!), and the dessert which was a small tomato. This might sound really weird that I was so impress by just a tomato but it was a very special one that grows only in a certain part of Japan and is nurtured in a different way than your usual tomatoes. It was incredibly sweet, juicy and yet still quite crispy. I could happily have a bag of those any time instead of croissants. 
kappo sakamoto reviewkappo sakamoto review
kappo sakamoto kaiseki
best kaiseki kyoto
Udon noodles on the backstreets of Tokyo

Absolutely loving this chunky udon noodles that often come with soup or dipping sauce and I find it as a great alternative to ramen. Best places to have them is from local stalls or fuss free local restaurants.
udon noodles tokyo

Spanish cuisine at Sant Pau in Tokyo

Spanish cuisine is very popular in Japan, not sure why but we suspected it might be due to the fact that in a way it`s very similar to the kaiseki type of meals where you have a lot of small dishes, so if you`re looking for alternatives to Japanese food you`ll find a lot of tapas places around the city. We had a lovely lunch in Tokyo at Sant Pau which also has a location near Barcelona with 3 Michelin stars.  The food was a mix between Catalan and Japanese cuisines with my favourite dish being the foie gras and miso soup. 
sant pau restaurant tokyo
sant pau tokyo review
sant pau restaurant tokyo
sant pau tokyo review

The best crepe of your life in Harajuku

And finally I had to end this long post with a dessert. If you`re in Harajuku, Tokyo don`t forget to try one (or more) of these weirdly wonderful crepes. There are street stalls basically everywhere in this area and they`re pretty hard to miss as they are very colourful and all have these display of plastic reproductions of what`s on the menu- which is especially useful if you`re a tourist as you can just point, pay, and eat. 
harajuku crepes
harajuku pancakes

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