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Food & Drink Travel Ideas

Japan: Enjoy the traditional foods of Tokyo

If you’re unsure just how important food is to the residents of Tokyo, the huge variety and number of restaurants, cafes and snack bars you see when you arrive is an instant give away.

From high end sushi bars offering the cream of the day’s catch, to cheap and cheerful Yakitori restaurants dishing up delicious grilled chicken to hungry workers and busy shoppers, the streets of Tokyo are packed with a huge variety of exceptional eateries.

If you want to make your visit to the city as authentic as possible, there are a few Tokyo dishes you can’t leave without sampling. Here are some of the most delicious to get your mouth watering.

Japanese food

Photo: Jun Selta on flickr

Edomae-Zushi

The old name for Tokyo was Edo. As a consequence, food that originated in the city was known as Edo-mae which literally translates to ‘in front of Edo’.

As Tokyo’s influence and power grew, its cuisine spread throughout Japan, with many of the city’s most famous dishes now found on restaurant menus throughout the country.

A prime example of this is Edomae-Zushi. Originally made using fish caught in Tokyo Bay, Edomae-Zushi contains a lot of Nigiri-Zushi and is made using very carefully prepared ingredients.

Tempura

Though tempura is eaten throughout Japan, the dish underwent a transformation in Tokyo during the Edo period.

Previously, chefs had only really used vegetables in tempura dishes. However in Edo they began using seafood caught in Tokyo Bay. This resulted in a much more varied dish and is still a firm favourite with residents of the city today.

Soba

Whether you’re staying in a humble guesthouse or one of the exclusive luxury hotels in Tokyo, there’s a good chance that a steaming hot bowl of soba will be on the restaurant menu.

Though prepared in a variety of ways, soba is often mixed with vegetables and served in a broth. It’s also common to find these thick buckwheat noodles served with a sticky dipping sauce, adding another flavour to the dish and making for a real taste sensation.

Soba noodles

Photo: raltank on flickr

Kobayaki

A dish made using unagi (freshwater eel), Tokyo-style kobayaki is a main stay of restaurants across the city and a must try for all adventurous diners.

Unlike other unagi dishes found in Japan, kobayaki is made by cutting the eel open from its back, removing its head, bones, and organs and then steaming it. The eel is then soaked in sweet soy sauce before being finished on a hot grill.

If you’ve booked a stay in one of the luxury hotels in Tokyo, your concierge should be able to point you in the direction of the best restaurants in the city. Better still, they may have a world class restaurant onsite, allowing you to sample the specialities of the Japanese capital without having to leave the comfort of the hotel.

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