Wow! What an amazing trip. I've just returned from an amazing 2 1/2 week holiday to Japan. I feel that we ate ourselves around Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. With Tokyo holding the record for the most Michelin starred restaurants within a city throughout the world, we were excited to have a taste of their unique food culture. Here are a few food highlights BF and I experienced.
Lunch at Ukai-Tei in Ginza will always be one of my most incredible food highlights in my life. We booked in advance and were lucky to experience this one Michelin star teppanyaki restaurant. With our own personal chef with 33 years experience, we sat down to an amazing set menu of:
- Fresh Fish Marinated with a Flavour of Early Summer
- Potato Cream Soup (Servced Cold)
- Seabass Sauted (For me, the savoury highlight dish)
- UKAI Top Quality Beef Steak (Grade A4)
- Fried Rice (BF's dish) and Soba Noodles (my dish)
- Creme Caramel (BF's dish) and Mango Sorbet with Fresh Fruit (my dish)
- Coffee or Tea with Baked Confectionery (including my sweet highlight item - the amazing black sesame macaroon)
To follow on with our Michelin star tour, we turned to Tokyo Cheapo website and decided to have some Cantonese and Shanghainese dishes at Fureika. This one Michelin star restaurant offers extremely well priced lunch set menus during the week. We chose the Noodle course ($25 Australian Dollars per person), which consisted of:
- Assorted 3 kinds appetizer (roast beef, cucumber and root)
- Pan-fried dumpling (the best dumplings I've ever eaten)
- A choice of 6 different noodle dishes. I had the Soy sauce soup noodle wih vegetables, seafood and pork, while BF had the Boiled noodle with ground pork sauce (without soup)
- Today's dessert (tea jelly with coconut milk)
What a great world we currently live in. After searching 'best ramen tokyo', we found Fuunji. This was an experience as the restaurant had:
a) no English signage
b) no English menu
c) multiple awards for 'best ramen' perched up above the ordering machine
d) massive line of locals with the pressure to press a button (of course we wanted to make the right choice) to order our mealAfter some quick finger work on the mobile, we worked out that we ordered their special ramen dish. It was totally flavoursome with a thicker soup consistency than a lot of the other ramen we had tried.
The best way to explain how much we love this place is that we went here three times and it isn't close to our hotel at all. This spicy ramen restaurant served up intense, amazing thick egg noodle bowls of goodness. BF always went for the big meat option, while I was happy with their deluxe with egg, meat and bean sprouts. With my last visit to Kikanbou, I added coriander which helped slightly mellow the spiciness.
Daiwa Sushi at the Tsukiji Fish Market
After checking out the fish market, we headed to the sushi restaurants next door for breakfast. I had looked up Trip Adviser beforehand and found that the top sushi restaurant, Sushidai, required an approximate 4 hour wait. So, we decided to go to Daiwa Sushi, apparently the second best according to Trip Advisor near the fish market. What can I say, we lined up for about 1 1/2 hours for their fresh sushi set ($75 per person). This cramped restaurant only had enough room for a row of standing sushi chefs and a bench for customers to eat at. I felt so rushed to eat, I must say I didn't really enjoy the experience. I also tried sea urchin for the first time and I must say, even though I love other raw seafood including oysters, the sea urchin did test me. I also found the fatty tuna too stringy and the pieces of fish were inconsistent thicknesses.
On our last night, BF's school friend who is currently living in Japan, took us to Sushi Zanmai in Kawasaki. Here, we enjoyed a relaxing and delicious sushi dinner, a totally different experience to what we had at the fish market. The fish here was super fresh and it was great to watch them make our pieces in front of us.
Okay, so we have these in Melbourne, however we had to have them when we saw them in Tokyo. No matter where you are in the world, it seems that whenever someone has one of these Twist Potatos in their hand, they also have a beaming smile, grinning from ear to ear. These potatoes were a bargain compared to Melbourne prices, $3 each in Tokyo.
Tokyo Food Show
This department store basement next to Shibuya train station is a foodie's dream. You can purchase fresh produce, meats, seafood, snacks, cakes as well as fully cooked meals. I could have spent a whole day in their looking at all their products and sampling amazing food. The sushi and mochi balls were a couple of my highlights.
Okonomiyaki is one of my favourite dishes and therefore we had to try them in their home town.We were recommended to go to one of the Tsuruhashi Fugetsu restaurants. We had the Modan-Yaki (noodles on okonomiyaki). It was great that they are cooked on hotplate in your table - a show before your meal. They were deceivingly large, we couldn't finish one each!
This place knows meat and we had the best meat we'd ever eaten. We actually came across this as it was the highest rated restaurant in Kyoto and we weren't let down. Amazing, melt-in-the-mouth steaks. No knives given, however no knives needed. We ordered the Wagyu Sirloin Steak (Grade A4) and the Murasawa Sirloin Steak (Grade A5).
La Pâtisserie Des Rêves
As you should know by now, I'm a lover of baked goods and sweets, so I was in heaven at the French patisserie chef, Philippe Conticini's Kyoto cafe. While we were there, we had their cake and coffee set. BF chose an amazing vanilla and white chocolate dessert, while I went for the mango dome. When we were leaving we couldn't resist taking the Saint-Honoré and Gran Cru Chocolat home for a divine treat for later.