Monday, March 3, 2014
eating out in japan
This is a bowl of udon noodle soup from a counter in Arashiyama, near Kyoto. It was good and cheap, and I happily ate it for lunch often while I was in Japan last October.
But I want to tell you about one particular lunch in Tokyo that my mom and I will always remember. (One particular lunch where I didn't bring my camera.)
We got off the subway under Mitsukoshi,* an expensive department store in the chic Ginza shopping district. It was Sunday afternoon and we had clearly joined the rest of Japan, who were also there to browse and shop.
I remembered Lonely Planet saying there were good food halls under Japanese department stores, and sure enough, we soon found ourselves amongst dozens of vendors and thousands of hungry shoppers.
My stomach growled and I saw gyoza. Six hot little dumplings were quickly packed into a clear plastic container, along with chop sticks and dipping sauce.
I turned around and saw my favourite Japanese vegetable – the lotus root – in salad incarnation. A big scoop was pushed into another clear plastic box, and I knew we just needed a drink.
Sure enough, there was a bottle of special green tea that you had to shake to release the green tea into the water. We paid for it and started looking around for a place to sit.
There was literally no corner that wasn't taken up by vendors and shoppers standing and buying food. I asked the man who sold me the green tea and he said to take the elevator up to the ninth floor.
We found the microscopic elevator and a clutch of 15 other people already waiting for it. Growing hungrier by the minute, we resigned ourselves to it.
Eventually, the elevator came and we packed ourselves in, arms and bags held as close as possible. At the next floor, we packed in as many people again and all rode up to the ninth floor together.
It was well worth the wait and the cramped ride up. Suddenly, we were out on a rooftop terrace with park benches and children running across patches of grass.
We found a bench and tore into our ten-dollar lunch. The gyoza squirted hot pork juice and the lotus root crunched in our mouths. We watched the children and looked out at the sunny Tokyo skyline and it couldn't have been better.
All that to say: I have finally added my favourite Japanese restaurants to hop & go fetch it. If you're visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima or Kasugai, these were my favourite places to eat.
* It appears that Mitsukoshi started in 1673 to sell kimonos. It sure sells a lot more than that now.
one year ago: panna cotta with red wine syrup
two years ago: caramel chocolate mousse
three years ago: grand forks borscht (the most popular recipe on this site!)
four years ago: yellow split pea dahl