Being the huge fans of Japanese food we are, a stopover in Tokyo and Kyoto on our way back from Hawaii seemed logical. We don’t eat a huge amount of seafood in Beijing, so used the visit to fill up on omega-3s. A trip to the Tokyo Fish Markets showed all manner of sealife for sale (we didn’t see whale, but did see a picture showing the different cuts of it) and ate breakfast of sashimi on rice.
Cook-your-own okonomiyaki was fun, with the finished product a tasty shrimp, pork and cuttlefish pancake topped with creamy Kewpie mayo, okonomiyaki sauce, strips of seaweed and dried fish flakes which move with the heat of the pancake.
Eating at izakayas was great fun, ordering small plates – like Japanese tapas – of tender beef and tofu stew, edamame, sashimi and grilled mackerel to drink with grapefruit sochu, plum wine or ice-cold Asahi, Sapporo or Kirin beer.
Tempura was lightly battered and cooked in front of us, and the Japanese pickles were sweet, spicy, salty and sour all in one bite. The markets were sightseeing destinations for us, to gawk at the weird and wonderful goodies on offer. Even supermarkets and department stores were great to browse and get takeaway bento lunchboxes from.
We liked the Boss Cafe Au Lait drink from the vending machines (thanks for the rec, Jimmy), and mochi and other indescribable sweets had interesting textures, flavours and tastes.
Sadly, not all food is “food”. The Japanese are masters in creating plastic/resin models of their food, so restaurants have samples of what’s on offer to entice hungry potential diners like us. The replicas were so lifelike – from the droplets of water on the “ice-cold beer bottles” to the individual “grains of rice” in sushi.
Unfortunately we left too soon, but have it on the list to go back to again.