Welcome to Part 4 of my japan travel series, thanks to those who have followed and I hope you’ve enjoyed my posts up to now. In the last segment I took you to Tsukiji fish market, the epicentre of Japanese cuisine in Tokyo, now I’ll be showing you some of the weird, wonderful and downright delicious foods that this amazing city has to offer. I’ve already shown you some of the best sushi in Tokyo in the last post where I visited the famous Sushi Dai in the heart of Tsukiji fish market.
First up is one of Japan’s most appetite satisfying meals, Tonkatsu. This traditional staple is starting to become evermore popular in countries all over the world and that’s because it is so appealing to the masses. Tonkatsu is a flattened out pork escalope covered in panko breadcrumbs which is deep fried in searing hot oil; the end result is succulent and tender pork encased in a super crispy coating. Tonkatsu is served up with finely shredded cabbage, a bowl of boiled rice, a sweet sticky sauce, a variety of pickles and a bowl of miso soup. There are plenty of places to get yourself some Tonkatsu but if you want the best you need to go to a place called Restaurant Misen, renowned as being the best place in Tokyo to get this dish. When you’re fed up of noodles, sushi and sashimi, Tonkatsu is the meal for you, there is simply no better meal to sit down to after a long day of exploring. Pair it up with a couple of pints of Asahi and you’ve got one of the most satisfying meals you’ll ever taste.
Izakayas are the Japanese answer to gastropubs serving a variety of alcohol and a menu full of simple and delicious food, they’re also one of the cheapest places in Tokyo to get some good food. When everywhere is closed but you really want a bite to eat, there is always going to be items like the ones above available, on the left is dried stingray with a kind of spicy and sweet mayonnaise and on the right are edamame beans covered in salt. Both of these are really cheap yet very delicious and as there is little preparation, you’ll be eating them five minutes after making your order. The stingray is chewy, slightly fishy and a little sweet, it’s really delicious with the mayo.
Here is another Izakaya favourite, Yakitori. Yakitori means skewer, these skewers can have anything on them but it’s usually the cheapest cuts of meat, you might find chicken neck, chicken gristle or chicken skin, the one above is chicken meat with chicken skin and spring onions. Yakitori are grilled usually in front of you then brought over to your table for you to enjoy with your drink, they go down fantastically with a pint of Asahi or Kirin.
A lot of this food was from a place called Izakaya Ichibe, my favourite izakaya in Tokyo. This was not only one of the best things we had there but one of the best foods I had in Japan. Deep fried chicken with salmon roe in the middle.
A view from inside Izakaya Ichibe. Tatami mats, check. Low down tables, check. Two bottles of very fine sake, check, check. This place was so quintessentially Japanese and it remains my favourite drinking and eating establishment from my whole trip. The two bottles of sake on the table are a type of un-filtered cloudy sake. I am not sure about the one on the right but the blue bottle on the left is called Chiku Manishiki; I had never tasted anything quite so unique, it was so gentle on the palate and so fragrant. We tried to find a bottle to take home to no avail, we searched for the whole time we were in Japan but never managed to find a bottle. Chiku Manishiki is produced up north in Nagano and I believe only at a certain time of year. Below is another small dish we got at Ichibe, black sesame tofu.
That covers a small part of the food in Tokyo, I will be continuing this in another part because there is so much more to show and it’s getting late and I need to sleep.