There's more to Japanese cuisine than just sushi!
Updated: Aug 29, 2018
When in Tokyo, visit:
Kaisendon Marukita in the Tsukiji Market for some sashimi. Head here for breakfast after visiting the tuna auctions.
Kaneko Hannosuke for some tempura donburi (also known as tendon). A great little lunch spot but be prepared to queue. Delicious food and reasonably priced.
Gonpachi Nishiazabu, a typical izakaya (Japanese pub). This is where the fight scene between The Bride and The Crazy 88s in Kill Bill was filmed.
Here you can have a selection of small dishes, such as shrimp tempura, edamame, showa croquettes (pork croquette with okonomiyaki sauce) and karaage (fried chicken).
Ise Sueyoshi for a kaiseki dinner with sake pairing. This is an expensive dining experience but worth every yen, not only for the tasty food and the variety of sake but also for the attentiveness of Chef Yuuki, who explains the source and combination of ingredients used in his unique dishes. Kaiseki cuisine involves meticulous preparation and beautiful presentation. It is guided by Japanese aesthetics, linked to rituals, culture and annual events.
The first course is Ikkon, which means 'the first cup of sake'. Kon means 'to drink sake together'. Lift the cup and say "kan-pai" (cheers)!
Next comes Hassun, which consists of smaller dishes with seasonal themes.
This is followed by Mukou-zuke, which is a thinly sliced raw fish, also known as sashimi. Surrounded by oceans and rich with fish, this is indigenous to Japanese cuisine.
The fourth course is called Wan (simmered food). This is meant to bring out seasonal flavours and aromas using dashi, a Japanese soup stock. It's important to smell this dish before eating it.
Shi-zakana is always served after Mukou-zuke and Wan. Zaka means 'sake' and Na means 'side dish' so Shi-zakana is the side dish for drinking sake.
At the end Meshi (rice), Tome-wan (soup) and pickles are served. It is believed that if even a single grain of rice is left behind in the bowl, you will be punished by Heaven.
Kan-mi (dessert) must be eaten before drinking matcha. The idea is to keep the sweet taste in your mouth until the matcha is served. Matcha is a high quality tea using the young leaves available in May. This tea is essential to a tea ceremony. The sweet taste left behind from the Kan-mi perfectly complements the matcha's flavour.
Kan-mi options include matcha fondant chocolate dessert or soy milk and kumquat pudding.
If you want to experience a night in a ryokan, travel to Kawaguchiko, a picturesque little town on the shores of Lake Kawaguchi. Here at Hotel Onsenji Yumedono Ryokan, you can enjoy a Kaiseki dinner & breakfast.
Appetiser: wild vegetable, salmon with potato gratin, pteridium herb, winding beef with cabbage, clam baked and coated with miso, egg and boiled beans.
Soup: seaweed, bamboo shoot, yamaudo and carrot.
Raw fish slice plate: seasonal fresh fish and sashimi.
Main dish: tilefish grilled with greenpeace.
Dessert: seasonal fresh fruits.
When in Kyoto, visit:
Yonemura, a Michelin starred Japanese restaurant with a French twist, for a tasty kaiseki meal.
Kyoto's Ramen Koji (street) on the 10th floor of Kyoto Station, to feast on some ramen.
When in Kagoshima, visit:
Kuro Katsu Tei for some tonkatsu, a breaded deep fried pork served with rice and shredded cabbage.
Juraku Restaurant for some shabu-shabu beef amongst others.
When in Hiroshima, visit:
Oyster Conclave Kaki-tei, a small oyster haven by the river, to enjoy the widely varied oyster menu.
Hassei for some Hiroshima okonomiyaki, which is different to the rest of Japan due to the addition of soba or udon noodles. This is a small but busy restaurant, where you can sit at the sizzling counter while the chefs cook the okonomiyaki in front of you. Given the popularity, you may have to wait for a table.
When in Miyajima, visit:
Mame-tanuki, an izakaya open later than other places on the island.
When in Osaka, visit:
Dotonbori Konamon Museum for some takoyaki, fried octopus balls. This is a must try when in Osaka, though it is an acquired taste!
Shoubentango-tei for kappō-ryōri (Osaka-style haute cuisine).