Writing a single blog post about the cuisine of Japan is as pointless as sending in pictures for Tony Hart’s “The Gallery.” For years I’ve been sending my efforts in, week after week, but he never puts them up. I’ve just accepted the fact now and so I started trying to just shock him to get some sort of reaction, each painting more graphic and upsetting than the last. But nothing from him or the BBC, though social services have been in touch. I stopped watching ages ago. Pointless. So here goes.
Japan managed to develop a gazillion cuisines in the absence of dairy products which on paper doesn’t look promising, but in fact they’ve excelled. In my 9 days in Tokyo and Kyoto, I managed to cram masses of it in. The aim is always to be forced to buy an extra seat on the flight back home to cope with the cascading folds of blubber, but Japanese food is quite healthy so I never achieve this goal. The highlights for me were:
- Gyoza Lou – a gyoza only restaurant in Harajuku perfect for hangovers though you invariably have to queue on a weekend.
- Honke Owariya (http://www.honke-owariya.co.jp) – the oldest noodle restaurant and the oldest restaurant in Kyoto, founded in 1465. Woah woah woah. So not even the oldest restaurant in Japan? Just Kyoto. But Botín claims that it is the oldest restaurant in the WORLD, established in 1725. So one of you is lying. I trusted you.
- Doma Doma (http://r.gnavi.co.jp/a188900/lang/en/) – a jolly good izakaya. Tsubohachi (http://www.tsubohachi.co.jp/) seems to have died a death, which is a shame. I had a lot of good memories. A litre of gintonic in a frosted flagon? Yes please.
- Hiroki Okonomiyaki – just excellent okonomiyaki in Shimokitazawa. It takes an awfully long time to say the word, but the wait is worth it.
Special mention to Piss Alley (not my short-lived foray into the adult entertainment industry) in Shinjuku. This nest of hole-in-the-wall restaurants next to Shinjuku fizzes with energy and botulism. Most culinary delights are on offer, and excellent they are too, but it’s the experience of perching in a rickety fire trap while a 100 year-old lady beadily upsells you that is unique. No idea where we ate yakitori, but it was followed by a couple of drinks in Albatross bar (http://www.alba-s.com/) which reminded me of Goupil Le Fol in Brussels.
You can’t do it all in 8 days. I missed out on Ramen and curry rice, but was able to sneak in octopus balls at the airport. They almost didn’t let me through immigration.
PISS ALLEY – SHINKJUKU!
YAKINIKU BAR – AKASAKA MITSUKETE
HONKE OWARIYA – KYOTO!
Tel: +81 75 231 3446
TONKATSU – KYOTO!
TAKOYAKI – HANEDA AIRPORT!
SUSHI – AKIHABARA!
HIROKI OKONOMIYAKI – SHIMO-KITAZAWA!
+81 3 3412 3908
NISHIKI FOOD MARKET – KYOTO!
GYOZA LOU – HARAJUKU
Tel: +81 3 3406 4743