Travelling to Tokyo I wanted to extend and incorporate as many food experiences my budget would possibly allow. This lead me to purchase the book Food Sake Tokyo. Chef and Baker author,Yukari Sakamoto breaks down the complexity of Japan’s food scene in an honest and detailed guide book. The Tokyo focused book covers Eating out, Food, Beverages, Places to Eat and Culinary Itinerary suggestions in five chapters.
If you do not speak Japanese, details can fall away in the translation process. This too, is also the attractiveness of Japan as a travel destination, immersing yourself in a foreign culture. I found the book helpful especially when ordering food at restaurants, it was narrow enough to fit in my bag.
Although I very much wanted to visit Jiro’s Michelin star restaurant, I had to find smaller and cheaper experiences and thanks to the Food Sake Tokyo book I was able to experience a few. Wandering around the basement of Takashimaya in awe of the patisserie cakes, wagashi and impeccably packed bento boxes. The ekiben bento boxes on a bullet train. Eating a sushi breakfast at one of the world’s largest fish markets in Tsukiji. Eating yakitori from a makeshift Izakaya (Japanese pub) and drinking overflowing sake from small cups.
One of the many patisserie stalls in the basement of Takashimaya
The Japanese are organised and regimental and Yukari uncovers their food culture. The observed traditions and dining etiquette such as using the wet towel before the meal and not to brush chopsticks together. The book details the basics of casual dining, Kaiseki (eight to fourteen course), kappo ryori (diners sit in front of the chef) and even touches on Yoshoku (Japanese style western food). Yukari talks about Baniku (horse meat) and Fugu (puffer meat).
Wandering the streets of Tsukiji
For those looking for a couple of fine dining experiences Yukari recommends places in Tokyo, Tsukiji Market, Ginza, Asakusa/Kappabashi, Ameyoko, Nihonbashi, Ningyocho, Tsukishima, Omotesando, Shinjuku and Kagurazaka.
The tips throughout the book are invaluable like
- Look for a red paper lantern to find an izakaya
- Train station food is delicious especially the Onigiri
- A depachika (shopping mall) show cases the very best of the region and you will not find fast food
- Its not the best to pour soy sauce on a bowl of rice unless there is sauce on it
- Nihonbashi’s Takashimaya depachika has a fugu eat-in counter
- Shochu ‘Japanese Vodka’ is a must, it is drunk more than Sake in Japan
A feast one night in Daiba
Towards the end of the book Yukari has prepared one to two day culinary itineraries for travelers interested in the food scene.
Now that I have returned home I often use the ingredient section of the book, I find it handy when looking for definitions of Japanese groceries for cooking.