What to eat in Tokyo

Everyone comes to Japan to eat sushi and Kobe beef, but here is a list of other dishes to give a try.

Monjayaki
Monjayaki is a simple dish that is a true Tokyo creation. It’s a mixture of meat or seafood and veggies in a flour batter that is cooked on a griddle at your table, similar to okonomiyaki. For the real monja experience, try Monja Street in Tsukishima.

Having fun eating monjayaki in Tsukushima.

Having fun eating monjayaki in Tsukushima.

Chanko nabe
Ever wondered how sumo wrestlers get so big? This is their secret. Chanko nabe is a hot pot filled with vegetables, tofu, mushrooms, meat and seafood. Head over to Ryogoku (the sumo district) and try Hananomai where you will find a real sumo ring inside the restaurant.

Nitsuke-style fish
Japanese don’t always eat their fish raw. In this dish, the selected fish is simmered in a broth of soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar. It’s a common way to prepare fish at home and one of my favorites. Many fish restaurants will have a nitsuke dish on the menu.

Yuzu ramen
Yuzu adds the perfect citrusy touch to many Japanese dishes and yuzu ramen is a must try for every ramen lover. Afuri is a small chain famous for its yuzu shio (salt) ramen. It’s quite popular so expect to wait in line for your ramen, but it’s worth it!

Unagi

Unfortunately, the freshwater eel population can't keep up with the demand, but that's because they are so damn delicious. Still, since they have been placed on the endangered list, I have decided to stop eating unagi for the time being.

Tebasaki chicken wings
Move over buffalo wings, here comes the tebasaki. Originally from Nagoya, these crispy chicken wings are dunked in a sweet and peppery soy sauce glaze. Yamachan is a popular tebasaki chain restaurant with a strange logo.

Tebasaki chicken wings.

Tebasaki chicken wings.

Japanese Pasta
How about pasta with a Japanese twist? Categorized as “wa-fu” or “Japanese style,” the toppings utilize Japanese elements like mentaiko (spicy cod roe), ume-shiso (sour pickled plum with shiso leaves), Japanese mushrooms and uni (sea urchin). A couple chain restaurants are Yomenya Goemon and Spajiro.

Shojin ryori
Sometimes food can be a religious experience. Shojin ryori is the special diet of Buddhist monks and excludes meat, fish and root vegetables. Purify your mind and body by trying shojin ryori at a real Buddhist temple. Or try Itosho in Azabujuban.

Oysters
If you love fresh seafood, then you must try Akkeshi oysters from Hokkaido, the northern island renown for its food. They are larger than what you may be used to but juicy and packed with flavor. You can find them in any oyster house or a restaurant that specializes in food from Hokkaido.

Fresh oysters from Hokkaido!

Fresh oysters from Hokkaido!

Mochi
Mochi is sweet rice that is steamed and pounded relentlessly resulting in a soft, chewy texture. Mochi is commonly served as little balls on a stick or one ball stuffed with sweet bean paste. But be careful, every year fatalities have been reported when some people bite off more than they can chew.

Fresh fruit
Japan is famous for having the most expensive fruit in the world. Check out what the fuss is all about and try the fruit parlors at Takano or Sembikiya for the best fruit desserts you will ever have in your life.

 

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