So, reality had hit by the time we made it to Japan. Gone were the days of sweating 24/7, guzzling 3 liters of water a day, and eating whatever we wanted because my pedometer said we walked 15,000 steps. After the cruel transition to a high of 11 C, we coped with warm food, soju, red meat and extra rice. We also drank a bit more since we were with friends and Dave and I were feeling puffy and rather literally, “Big in Japan” when we left. I arrived with a preconceived notion of Japanese food was that it was light, very healthy, and delicate.
This is half true. The other half is fried, covered in mayonnaise, and consumed with drinks. Oops.
However, after months of rice, noodles, pork and fish we were really looking forward to more rice, noodles, pork, and fish but with a completely different flavor profile. Also soup. So much soup. We ate well in Japan not just because we spent two weeks in the home of a professional chef and a excellent home cook. We also ate delicious things out in the world which was fun.
We already wrote about one sushi experience which was good and fun, but we ate the best sushi of our lives elsewhere.
Obvi– Tsukiji market is the place to go for serious, fresh, I-am-making-really-inappropriate-faces sushi.
Seriously. Look at this!
I miss it all the time. Because we were there on a weekday a ¥3,800 meal was reduced to ¥2,500 which we found to be an exceptional value.
The chef was affable and engaged Brock in a bunch of chef bro-to-bro stuff and then pointed on a picture of a tuna where all our delicious things were. I’m sure that’s the chef fraternity handshake — POINT TO ME ON THE TUNA WHERE DELICIOUSNESS COMES FROM.
We also ate amazing food at “the Fish Shack” i.e. Nogizaka Uoshin which is where we took our friends (at their gentle suggestion) for a “thanks for letting us stay with you for weeks the least we can do is buy you dinner somewhere nice” meal.
Look at the menu:
Japan never said it would make it easy for you to get to this deliciousness. Luckily we know some Gaijin who have cracked their code.
I will forever think about this sashimi plate
and the scallop sashimi we ordered. It was absolutely insane.
We also ate awesome ramen during our time, and we hit up a few of the major favorite chains in Japan.
Ippudo, for delicious lunch special
Ichiran, to eat in a cubicle (seriously) and not speak to anyone. You order at a machine, fill out a form on the specifics (noodle tenderness, amount of spring onion, etc) and then a tiny window in front of you opens and the ramen arrives. This wins for BanhMiandYou-approved porny soup fav.
Dragon Ramen in Osaka
We ate delicious spicy ramen at “Ramen Stadium” in Hakata which was just about the only part of the city we saw since we got really sick while in Fukuoka and spent the next 2 days shivering with fevers in a tiny 10 square meter business hotel with a back-breakingly firm mattress.
After we recovered and moved on to Osaka, Dave was insistent we try Okonomiyaki (as was my BFF in London! Hi DZ!) and we went to a famous place in Dontonburi and were blown away. Dave called it a “Japanese garbage plate” and it is sometimes known as “Japanese pizza” but it was delicious so who cares what is is?
Cabbage and other veggies are fried in a thin batter on a griddle right in front of you and topped with delicious things like pork belly, a fried egg, and the ever-present Japanese mayo. It was messy and we were way too too sober to eat it– it was definitely drunk food. Another time!
Dave was also insistent about takoyaki. On paper, this is like, Dave’s optimal food. Fried balls of squishy batter with squid inside and topped with BBQ sauce, bonito flakes and a bit of mayo.
Or –as you do– EGG SALAD?!?!?
He kept trying them hoping that THESE would be the ones that made him swoon but none did. He was gravely disappointed.
We ate lots of weird snacks. Some at izakayas: grilled meat on sticks, hilarious mix of Doritos and other chips, fried things and chicken nuggets.
And as previously mentioned, drank beer. Let’s just say after we left our “Let’s squish in ALL THE FUN” trip to Tokyo, Dave and I dialed the booze way down. We were supposed to return from this trip SKINNIER than when we left. There is no cute, peppy song called “Phatter than before in Philly” or “pudgy in Pennsylvania”. And I’ll be damned if this turns into a fitness blog so beers down, pedometer on, salad. Go!
(here’s where I should confess we had Turkish clotted cream and honey on fresh [white] bread for breakfast…Turkey is a cruel temptress)