I think we all know that Japan is a land of UHH-MAZING food. Although I am honing my skills as a semi-homemade chef, I still cannot resist going out to get some of this UHH-MAZINGNESS.
Here is what I eat (and why all my money goes to food + transportation to get me to said food)
Let's start with breakfast.
BILLS: RICOTTA BANANA PANCAKES (expensive, but worth it)
This is an Australian restaurant chain that made its way to Japan. My friend Caroline had been telling me about these ricotta pancakes they have and I knew I had to try. We went early on a Saturday morning to beat the crowds. The pancakes came and WHOAAAA were they good. The fluffiest things you will ever eat. Fluffy banananess with ricotta AND honeycomb BUTTER!!! Never knew such glory existed.
MR. DONUT: OLD FASHION + COFFEE (Cheap. always good)
Mr. Donut is everywhere in Japan, and for good reason. They're known for their cute mochi-donuts (the pink one), but I prefer the old fashion which...for $1...are really really good. Plus, if you get coffee you get free refills.
Now, for the main course...
WHITE GYOZA: FRIED GYOZA SET. (First meal I ate when I got here)
White Gyoza is a little hidden gem tucked back behind Kashiwa station and for about $7 you can get this ridiculous set of food that is the definition of some JAPANESE COMFORT FOOD. The gyoza (pot stickers for those who don't know) are more bready than usual and when dipped in some vinegar/hotsauce/shoyu sauce they soak all the flavor up and taste amazing. I could eat here every week.
SHAKE SHACK: SHACK BURGER, CHEESE FRIES, LEMONADE. (Thank you, Lord)
I knew I would crave a good hamburger ever now and then, and when Shake shack came to Tokyo in the fall it was like an answer to prayer! I know there is the great In&Out VS. Shake Shack debate...and I have concluded these facts:
-shake shack fries are far superior in every way.
-In&out burgers have onions, which is a huge +++
-shack shack concretes > in&out milkshakes
BUT...here is the kicker.... IN&OUT IS SO MUCH CHEAPER!!
HOMEMADE DINNER: INARI, CHICKEN MEATBALLS, FLANK STEAK, BEEF SUSHI (omg), NAMA HAMU (ham) SALAD. (nothing like home cooking)
My sweet friend Harumi, who I met at church, invited me over to her house for dinner! Wow, I felt so honored. She has one daughter, who is starting college later this year, and wanted us to all hang out. She knew I didn't eat seafood so she made the most amazing homemade dinner with beef "sushi" that I couldn't stop eating!!
DON'T-EVEN-KNOW-THE-NAME RAMEN PLACE BY MY APT: PORK RAMEN (dangerously close to my apartment. garlicy and so good)
This ramen shop is on the corner of my street. It doen't get any more dangerous than that! When you walk out smelling like garlic, pork, and onion - you know it was good.
OOTOYA: SEASONAL NABE (honestly, one of the best things I've eaten thus far)
Ootoya is a popular family style diner that is that go-to place when you just want some good, reliable, comfort food. Apparently during winter they have this seasonal special...corn, miso, chicken, nabe (hot pot) that was so simple and so so good. Also, you can order a larger bowl of rice (which I do, duh!) to accompany your amazing corn-miso-nabe.
BOTTEGA: SPICY CHICKEN SALAD. (no, not the same as Bottega Louie, sadly)
This place has the cutest interior, and a pretty good lunch set. Salad, bread, coffee...and the best part was the spicy chips on top of this salad! Strangely enough, big salads are hard to come by in Japan so it seemed like a special treat.
DON'T KNOW THE NAME: FANCY 12 GRAIN RICE, AND AMAZING SALAD. (The restaurant was hidden behind a fresh veggie market so I really didn't catch the name)
Japanese people love looooove parties. As is, End-of-the-year-party, Welcome-party, farewell-party, and the event that gathered us at this amazing healthy restaurant : ladies-party!! There was a lot of sashimi on the table so I opted for tempura and this crazy 12 grain rice with delicious fresh veggie salad.
KARAKARA: KOREAN FOOD HEAVEN (everything spicy, everything good)
My friend Mina showed me this place and knew all the good stuff to order. My two favorite things were the daikon + pork soup they give you as a starter, and the kimchi chijimi (korean pancake)!
Now, on to dessert....
GION TSUJIRI: GREEN TEA ICECREAM (tasted as good as it looks)
The green tea icecream was incredibly refreshing and good...but the mochi balls were next level! So soft and delicious. Also, the view from this location inside Tokyo Skytree is killer. And they give you a spoon shaped like Tokyo skytree, how cute is that?
MOTHER FARM: ICE CREAM AND PUDDING PARFAIT. (so many textures. so good)
We stumbled upon this place after going to costco (Shin-misato) and decided it looked good enough to try. I ordered this vanilla icecream with pudding at the bottom and chocolate goodness all around. Apparently this store, Mother farm, actually has a farm you can visit where they make all their milk and cheese for their stores. YUMMMM.
I've noticed that a lot of people eat out in Japan. I think it's partially because so much revolves around train stations and food is just really convenient...but I think more of it has to do with the fact that the food here is just GOOD. In the states you can go out to a few good restaurants, if it's a trendy one you have to wait in line or make a reservation, and the quality often comes with a hefty price tag. But, here in Japan the food seems to always be good. No matter what type of restaurant you go to...whether it be a national chain or a hole in the wall family run shop...everything is treated with such high quality and it is evident in everything they produce.