One of my favourite things about travelling in Japan is eating! I’m the world’s biggest fan of Japanese food (especially sushi and anything seafood related) so when I’m in Japan, there’s no chance you’re going to catch me eating a sandwich – I’m even reluctant to eat fruit because I want to spare any stomach space I have to trying all the amazing local food on offer. Nothing in my mind will ever taste as good as Japanese food in Japan and so I thought I’d dedicate today an entire post on all the food we ate in Tokyo. I’ve taken out all the fruit that I did indeed eat and the other boring bottles of water or orange juice I drank to share with you all the delicious foods you absolutely should put on your list when you’re in TOKYO!
Here we go!
1. ICHIRAN RAMEN
If it’s your first time in Japan and your first time trying ramen in Japan, go no further than Ichiran Ramen! They have branches throughout the country including near popular tourist spots like Shibuya Crossing and Harajuku in Tokyo, Dotonbori in Osaka and Gion area in Kyoto. Ichiran Ramen serves only one type of ramen however you’re able to customise how it is made by choosing how you like the noodle texture to be, how strong you would like the soup to be, as well as adding numerous toppings. The ramen itself is served through a flap in front of you and you never make contact with the people who serve you. It’s an introvert’s paradise.
Most branches are open 24/7 (though not all!) and I’ll let you know now that the lines can get up to 1hr long despite a quick turnover. People don’t really sit and chat after their meal here, it’s a dine and leave kind of place as ramen is served in single person booths. Some stores also have booths where the dividing wall between you can be removed so that you can chat with friends whilst you eat.
Anyway, we’ve never had to wait when we go at odd hours like 10:30AM for ramen brunch so do that if you can.
2. TOTTI CANDY FACTORY
One of the must-try things when visiting Harajuku’s Takeshita St is Totti Candy Factory! If you are approaching from Harajuku Station, then the shop will be located on the first floor of a building on the right side of the street, about half way down the street. You won’t miss it because you’ll see heaps of people crowding underneath eating the fairy floss.
After you queue up and pay, you can move onto the windows where you can watch your fairy floss get made. It’s so cool to see it form! The fairy floss is humungous here (though you can also get smaller sizes too) and it tastes delicious with a fruity flavour.
3. ZAKU ZAKU
Also on Takeshita St is Zaku Zaku. Their two most popular items are their soft serve ice-cream and their croquant chou which is like a crunch tasting eclair or cream puff. They only cost a few Aussie dollars and are soo delicious!
4. BONJOUR BON
Buried within a shopping mall in the neighbourhood of Nakano is Bonjour Bon – a very unassuming bakery selling all your typical bakery goods, and totoro bread. It can be quite a trek out here if you’re living in the city centre but for totoro lovers like me, the trek is worth it. The custard buns are so cute you won’t want to eat them and cheap enough that you’ll end up wanting to buy a dozen!
5. NAKAMURA TOKICHI
Nakamura Tokichi is a famous chain of matcha cafes in Japan. It’s main branch is in Uji, Kyoto with another branch at Kyoto station however we unfortunately did not have time to visit it whilst we were in Kyoto. However, we were excited to find another branch in Tokyo at Ginza Six and so made sure we made our way there! The cafe serves all things matcha with free tea with your meal. Note that it is one of those ‘one order per person’ cafes so keep that in mind if you were planning to share one dish between two which is something we always do so as to ration our stomach space haha. We ordered the cold matcha soba noodles set (absolutely delicious and even better because it came with a matcha jelly dessert), as well as a cold matcha dessert/drink. Sadly I can’t recall the name of this dessert because it was in Japanese but it was soo good!
6. EDDY’S ICE CREAM
Harajuku is all about the crazy ‘out there’ trends and so we thought we’d do Harajuku the Harajuku way and try some OTT ice-cream whilst we were there. Enter, Eddy’s Ice Cream – a store covered top-to-toe in pink and serving ice-cream with gigantic gravity defying decorations.
7. SAKURA RESTAURANT, ODAIBA
We had a delicious degustation multi-course meal at Sakura which is situated in Hilton Tokyo Odaiba. You can read more about it and see more pics here!
8. GENKI SUSHI
I know there’s way better sushi out there other than conveyor belt sushi but as an Australian visiting Japan, Genki Sushi is actually really good for its price, variety and conveyor belt standard! Most plates here are about $1.50-ish with special dishes being a little bit extra. The thing I love about Genki Sushi is the fact that it serves so many different types of sushi including ones that you can only find in fine dining restaurants in Australia. Think uni (sea urchin), salmon belly, tuna belly, paradise prawn, etc. In addition, they also serve dishes like ramen, hot chips, ice-cream and jelly juice too.
The line at Genki is long most of the time but they do have a capacity of 100~ people so it does move quite fast. No matter how long the line looks or how far it is past the door, definitely line up. Hot tip for small eaters like me – once you’re full, order some extra dishes and pack these away yourself with the takeaway boxes available above the conveyor belt. That way you can have a second Genki meal once you’re home!
9. TSUKIJI MARKET
I obviously love Tsukiji Market because of all the seafood involved but it’s a shame I can’t fit much in my stomach! When visiting Tsukiji market, make sure you google the Tsukiji opening hours calendar to make sure it is open in the first place as it closes on various days during the week.
When at Tsukiji, you absolutely must try a sushi rice bowl (or, kaisendon). This is my second favourite Japanese dish after anything sushi related and I guess it really is quite similar to sushi – kind of a deconstructed one of sorts. Lots of reviewers offer suggestions on which stores do it better and some of them have super long lines due to their popularity. I’m personally not too much of a fussy eater so I’ll take what I can get. When you’re an Australian who’s only been exposed to Australian sushi, it doesn’t matter where you eat in Japan because everything is going to taste out of the world.
Oh and be sure to try sea urchin here too (it tastes 300% different to the sea urchin you taste in Australia except for super fine dining places like Minamashima, which do sea urchin like Japan).
I’m so hungry just thinking about all this.
You know those triangle things you see all the time? They’re called onigiri and the locals here love to eat it as a snack. At first I was cautious to try one, as it looked just like a carb-loaded triangle of rice. I love rice but when you’re trying to eat everything, filling yourself with rice isn’t a smart strategy. Whilst some of these are filled with rice only, most of the onigiri have fillings in them including tuna mayo, grilled salmon, cod roe, chicken, shrimp and more. It’s almost like a sushi served differently and I’m absolutely obsessed with them! You can find them easily at all your kombi/convenience stores, at train stations, food halls and of course, Tsukiji. You have to try them – they are so good!
11. TOTORO CHARA-BEN
For super foodies, take a cooking class whilst you’re in Tokyo! We did one with WashoCook via Airbnb’s Experiences. It was so fun spending a few hours chatting to our instructor Masami whilst learning all the skills on how to make this absolutely ridiculously adorable Totoro bento box. We had so much fun and even ended up buying some of the tools and a special egg roll making pan so that we could create it again and again when we’re back home in Australia.
That’s it for today. This post has made me soooooooo hungry.
Happy Japan planning