From New Zealand to Japan, my travel blogging friends from Above Our Means have written about their incredible foodie experiences around the world. Enjoy this one from Tokyo and don’t read on an empty stomach!
I must admit, when we were planning our Asia trip, Thailand was the top “foodie” destination I was looking forward to experiencing the most. I was excited to visit Tokyo and see the sights, but I didn’t really know what to expect in the food department. But let me just tell you, it blew my mind!
I’ve had sushi before many times and am definitely a fan, but nothing compares to the freshness and quality you receive in Tokyo! One thing that has always been on our bucket list was to learn how to make sushi ourselves, and to have the opportunity to do that in Tokyo was a bucket list moment!
We signed up for a sushi making experience through Cookly, a very user-friendly and straightforward website that offers authentic cooking classes around the world. Our class was led by a husband and wife teaching combo which we loved. We felt like we were in their living room having a traditional sushi and sake lunch! A group of five friends from England were also in the class who quickly became our friends as we all learned the ropes of rice molding.
The instructors were both very patient and spoke English extremely well. When they showed us how to make the Japanese omelette for the top of the sushi, they even came over to help roll the egg on the pan with us. No need to worry if you’re not an expert in the kitchen, they are there to guide you with a step-by-step process.
We made about 8 different types of sashimi style pieces, plus fresh miso soup and some tasty sake! The variety was incredible and the taste was even better. It was also fun getting to sit down with everyone after and eat together. It made me realize this would be such a great experience for even a solo traveler. We left the class to explore the big city with full bellies and happy hearts!
After a long day of exploring all the wonderful sights in Tokyo, we headed to Shinjuku station in the evening for our next foodie adventure. We met our wonderful guide Yuma for our Ninja Food Tour – The Best of Izakaya. This tour focused mainly on the bustling Shinjuku area of Tokyo. I believe food tours are one of the best ways to truly get to know a place. Also, who doesn’t like to eat?!
Our first food stop was in the Izakaya, filled with fun gastropubs, to taste Takoyaki – fried octopus balls. These items are normally an appetizer, or snack, and definitely a comfort food for the Japanese people. For not being the biggest octopus fan, I was really impressed with the quality. Again, the freshness of the seafood is incredible in Tokyo and really makes all the difference.
Our next stop was a small and delicious restaurant that specializes in the Japanese pancake- Hiroshima style. The restaurant is family owned for over 15 years and the owner is the only one who can make the specialty pancake! I love how food tours stay far away from touristy chain restaurants, and instead, make it their mission to find hole-in-the-wall gems or family-run institutions.
At this same spot we tried Japanese calamari (not breaded, but grilled squid) and a Noto egg roll, with fermented soybeans and seaweed on top. For the main course we actually tried 2 types of pancakes (originally from Hiroshima). One had: flour, cabbage, bacon, ramen, eggs, and crunchy squid. The other was made with: mochi paste, cheese, ramen, sesame seeds, and Japanese bbq sauce. Both were delicious and so unique to anything we had ever tried before!
Our next stop was another tiny restaurant with such a long wait, they had to turn people away! Our guide told us that each of these small restaurants specialize in something different. This stop was all about the chicken skewers, but not the typical ones.
We started off with a tasty Japanese “nacho” appetizer made with fresh cabbage and homemade sweet miso. Then came the famous skewers, but they were not all the usual parts of the chicken that we eat. We tried: chicken liver, heart, breast, neck, tail, and crispy skin. I surprisingly enjoyed them all except maybe the liver, which is definitely an acquired taste and texture but I was proud of myself for trying it! When in Rome, right?!
At the same spot, we also tasted some deep fried tofu in dash broth, Shisito peppers, pork belly wrapped tomato and Shitake mushrooms. I really enjoyed going out of my comfort zone at this stop and also tasting some delicious items that were not as crazy or adventurous.
We ended on a sweet note and visited a small ice cream stand near the metro station where we indulged in a green tea ice cream. This one was one of my favorite stops and a really great way to end an amazing day! I honestly wouldn’t have discovered most of these hidden gems if it weren’t for this food tour.
Tokyo has so much to offer tourists, and I can thoroughly recommend it after having experienced the sights, sounds, and tastes of this magnetic city! I love the mix of modern and historic sites, the amazingly unforgettable food, and the incredibly nice people. If you are considering visiting Tokyo, there is almost too much good food to know what to do with so make sure you plan ahead. The Cookly Sushi Making Class will satisfy your craving for fresh sushi while making you feel like a professional chef, and the Ninja Food Tour will help you discover the best dishes in the city with flavors from all over Japan.
We hope you enjoy all of these savory delights as much as we did! Have you been to Tokyo? What would be your favorite dish? Let me know in the comments below!