Gourmet Food in Tokyo
Unfortunately you can’t get all of your good eats off the street in Tokyo, for some you will have to give in and go to restaurants. These dishes include such masterpieces as Sushi and Sashimi; Japan’s most famous food.
There is probably no other element in Japanese culture that more instantly recognizable and associated with Japan than Sushi. Show anyone in the civilized world a picture of sushi and they’ll know exactly what it is.
While there are scores of different varieties your typical sushi will have a core of meat morsels (usually seafood) and a vegetable or two, wrapped in white rice and then wrapped in a sheet of ‘nori’ (toasted seaweed).
Varieties include “temaki-zushi” which is a cone of nori with rice and vegetables inside. If you think of it as an ice cream cone you’d be on the right track, with the cone being the seaweed and the ice cream being the rice and veggies. Also there is “ura-maki’ which is the same as a normal piece of sushi, except that it has an addition outer layer of rice outside the nori layer.
The meats and vegetables used in the sushi’s core vary greatly, typical choices include:
- Pickled plumb
- Daikon (Japanese white radish)
As you can imagine sushi is readily available, be it at the convenience store, super market, restaurants and sushi shops. Quality varies, whereas you can spend $200 yen for some cheap sushi at the Hyaku Yen (dollar store) you can spend over $1000 yen at a sushi shop for a plate of four pieces.
As many will tell you, the best place to get sushi in Tokyo is at the Tsukiji Fish Market, where the fish is pulled right out of the bay and on to your plate.
For vegetarians, ‘veggie’ only sushi exists, which will have simply a slice of avocado or an alternative veggie in place of the meat.
A sushi plate is typically served with an assortment of dipping sauces/garnishes, such as ginger slivers, wasabi, soy sauce etc etc.
Best Sushi in Tokyo
1-9-15 Akasaka, Minato-ku
03 3589 4412
- And more
These fine fillets are served raw, usually on a platter of a few different varieties; along with wasabi, shredded daikon, and scallions.
Because of the preponderance of high grade meat, sashimi is typically more expansive than sushi.
Best Sashimi in Tokyo
4-3 Tsukiji 4 Chuo-ku, Tokyo
What do you get when you mix sashimi and sushi? The answer is ‘Nigiri-zushi’
Picture a molded finger of rice, on top of which lays a fillet of raw tuna which completely covers it. And there you have Nigiri-zushi
Vegetables and seafood deep fried in a light coat of batter for a short amount of time. This dish came originally from Portugal and, like many other things Portuguese, was imported into the Japanese culture.
Best Tempura in Tokyo
Tokyo Midtown, 9-7-1, Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-6245
Japan’s answer to French Fondue (or maybe not), regardless of this dish’s origins it is set up similarly to France’s Fondue, Taiwan’s Hot Pot, and Singapore’s Steamboat. The question is who is copying who exactly? Or did they all independently invent the same thing?
There is a central cooking wok/pot with broth (not oil) which is then loaded up with a variety of veggies and spice. Guests then take turns placing meat thin slices of meat (meats include, pork, beef, shrimp, clam and others) for a few seconds and then recovering them with chop sticks or spoons and placing them on their individual plates.
A wide variety of condiments are at hand, spicy, sweat salty etc etc.
The words ‘shabu shabu’ are said to mimic the sound of stirring the pot with chop sticks.
Best Shabu Shabu in Tokyo