All that good eating in Japan started on the flight there. After a short hop with Lufthansa to Frankfurt, we changed for a flight to Nagoya. Our dinner was fried chicken (karaage) served with rice; sure it was a bit soggy but it was tasty. The cold green tea soba, served with a dipping sauce, was excellent and I’m convinced it’s one of those foods that are perfectly suited to high altitude cuisine.
While another colleague was flying with BA and snacking on cups of instant noodles, we were chowing down on salmon onigiri and Milka chocolate bars. Our plane was full of Japanese people heading home and all of them were sleeping but…we weren’t. We were hungry and we ate so many onigiri that we became experts at opening the fiddly little plastic sheets that kept the nori crisp.
In Nagoya, we tried a massive matcha kakigori at a little shop that specialised in matcha desserts in the underground shopping arcade underneath the station.
We couldn’t leave Nagoya without eating one of their most famous dishes – tebasaki! Chicken wings! The most famous place to eat tebasaki is at Yamachan; we didn’t realise this at first but we did soon recognise their fabulous half man-half chicken logo everywhere in the city. We called him ‘Chicken-Dude’; I believe that the man is their actual CEO.
We would buy boxes of chicken wings to take back to our hotel and eat while we worked. These deep fried wings were just barely greasy and coated in the most tantalising spice mixture. I tried to find a way to take home this spice mixture and failed – this company wasn’t parting with any secrets!
Later as we were leaving Nagoya, a colleague also bought a bag of Yamachan branded dried cuttlefish from one of the nearby restaurants for a snack. This was insanely delicious. Seriously, get some.
One night after work in Nagoya, a few of us were taken to Kisoji for a work dinner – it was shabu shabu time! I never would have found this place on my own and I certainly wouldn’t have known what to order.
These were the platters of beautifully marbled beef that arrived.
We swished the slices around in the hot water before dipping them in either a soy-ponzu sauce or a sweet sesame sauce. There was an equally beautiful platter filled with lots of vegetables and tofu to cook in the broth.
To finish the meal, we had both bowls of rice and kishimen, a flat thick noodle particular to Nagoya, cooked in the final broth. Gorgeous.
We even had the opportunity to try very traditional Japanese sweets for dessert. Here was some warabi mochi, a jelly made of bracken starch and tossed with soybean flour (kinako) and served with a brown sugar syrup…
… and kudzu kiri, jelly noodles made from the starch of the kudzu (Japanese arrowroot) plant. I loved the different textures and flavours in the two desserts.
After our trip to the onsen, we stopped at MOS burger for a snack before heading back to the hotel. This was our order presented in the most beautiful way… and it’s just a fast food joint! The food was good too! I’m starting to think that Japanese fried chicken is one of the best fried chickens in the world…
Did I mention that we took a very jet-lagged day-trip to Kyoto? A day is definitely not enough but we got a taster and we all hope to return. There was just enough time to visit Kiyomizudera…
… and Kodaiji. How beautiful were they?! I’d love to see more of Kyoto.
And enough time to sit down at one of Kiyomizudera’s many temple tea houses. As it was a sweltering day, we decided to split a bucket of cold tofu, which I believe is one of the specialties of Kyoto. The bucket was full of cold water and we fished the tofu from it. There was also a small pitcher of a soy and dashi sauce that sat in the bucket, cooled by the water, and we poured over its contents onto the tofu and topped it with ginger and spring onions too. Delicious and refreshing!
In Tokyo, some of the best things to eat were found in the markets around Tsukiji. Between us all, we split this huge portion of unagi on a stick (well, multiple sticks) – fantastic stuff!
On our way to the Imperial Palace, we stopped into a shopping mall opposite Tokyo Station and found this little place in the basement – Machimura Farm from Hokkaido. It sold mainly fresh dairy products and cakes and confectionary featuring those dairy products. We all tucked into the most delicious soft serve ice cream I’ve ever had. It was just the flavour of the milk (which I normally detest) but this was just gorgeous.
On our last day, we stopped into a random old-fashioned restaurant run by a few little old ladies near Kappabashi-dori. The place was insanely cute and homey and we only managed to order thanks to the plastic food outside! My tempura and soba was perfect and huge too.
Near Sensoji in Asakusa, I spotted a stall selling sweet potato sweets. And there was a small queue! I hopped onto the end of it, keen to try a sweet I’ve only seen in pictures. This is what I got – what the Japanese lady serving me called…sweet potato. It’s mashed steamed sweet potato mixed with egg and sugar and I’m not sure what else, reformed into the shape below and baked. And it was delicious. Not too sweet and extremely tasty (well, if you like sweet potato).
Sigh…and that’s the end of this Japan series! All my photos from this trip (not just food!) can be found in this Flickr photoset.