..it engaged every sense and emotion. It was the essence of Japan – Robin Trento
I love a bit of retail therapy as much as the next girl but one thing I could not get enough of in Tokyo was the endless array of food, including the different cuisines on offer. Whether it was a chain store, small café, food court, vending machine, or Western cuisine all of it was readily available and all of it was delicious.
Basing ourselves in Shinjuku, we had countless dining options right on our doorstep. Upon arriving in Tokyo, we didn’t check into our hotel until after 9pm. Desperate for a decent meal after our flight, we wandered along the boardwalk outside hoping to find something to satisfy our appetite. Being as late as it was, a few things had closed down, so we decided on a small Italian restaurant – Trattoria Presce D’oro. We felt a little silly tucking into pizza and pasta for our first meal in Japan, however once we were inside and seated that feeling completely changed. The space was warm, cosy and felt incredibly authentic. The wait staff were attentive and our food arrived quickly.
This meal was better than some of the food I’d eaten in Italy – even Daniella, who’s family is Italian, was blown away with just how good it was! The head chef ended up coming over to our table, and we did our best to make conversation with our limited Japanese and his limited English. We took out our Lonley Planet language guide and told him about Daniella’s family. Excitement and a huge smile spread across his face before he disappeared to the back room. Moments later, he came back out with a Japanese-Italian phrasebook, telling us enthusiastically that he was working towards going to Italy for 2 years to study cooking further. After we left, with ear-to-ear smiles on our faces and full bellies, we walked to the end of the boardwalk only to turn around to see the chef running after us. He apologised that he didn’t get a chance to say goodbye before we left, and gave us his business card, asking us to add him on Facebook! He was so sweet and courteous and made our first night there one to remember!
For a food experience like no other, make your way to Ebisu, a trendy neighbourhood in Shibuya-ku, which is bursting at the seams with incredible places to eat and drink. Weather you’re looking to splash some cash on fine dining, or rub elbows with salarymen at a local bar, this Tokyo hot spot has you covered. Old-school Japanese pubs, traditional yakitori, Chinese noodles (Japanese style) or Tonkatsu ramen – you’ll have a hard time deciding where you go! We were looking for a quiet, intimate setting, and stumbled upon Kappo R. This basement hideaway not only offers quality ryōri, but also serves up some of the best ramen we’d had. Sitting in the back streets of Ebisu, with no queues to wait in, you’re quickly shown to a table. Groups have their own private dining, in small booths around the edge of the restaurant that sit behind sliding doors. Smaller parties or single diners can have a seat right in the action at the bar that looks over into the open plan kitchen, watching on as your meal is prepared.
One thing you’ll most definitely notice during your time in Japan, is that sweets are certainly their specialty. Ornately decorated cakes and slices, muffins and croissants, golden pastries and waffles and ice creams stacked high! They are all crafted and displayed so beautifully you’ll head home with a phone full of food photos and a belly heavy like a sumo.
I hope these photos get your tummy rumbling and hungry for a trip to Tokyo! If only to eat your way around this incredible city.