Tokyo is a tourist haven — and for good reason. Other than being Japan’s busy and ultramodern capital, Tokyo is also the hub of culture and history in the land of the rising sun. But of course, you don’t just go to Tokyo for the sights and the culture. Tokyo is also one of the world’s premier dining destinations, boasting 226 restaurants with Michelin stars. Many Japanese dishes are a mainstay of Asian restaurants — and where better to enjoy these than in Tokyo? So if you’re planning to visit Japan soon, we’ve made a quick guide of 4 iconic Japanese dishes and where you can get them in Tokyo.
Everybody knows what a hot, comforting bowl of ramen is. At its core, ramen is made with chewy noodles and a savoury, but light broth. But of course, there are a few variations to this humble dish, with the main ones being: shoyu (soy sauce), miso, tonkotsu (pork), and shio (salt). The best thing about ramen in Tokyo is that you can find it in virtually any corner of the city, from train stations to quaint streets. If you’re looking for accessible ramen in the city, you can find Ichiran — a restaurant that mainly serves tonkotsu ramen — in many major stations. But if you’re looking for an exciting experience, you can head on over to Menya Shichisai, where they make and pound the noodles right in front of your face.
Despite not originating from Japan, sushi is one of the most recognisable and popular Japanese dishes. This is because a lot of Japanese sushi chefs put a lot of effort into their craft — from picking out the freshest seafood in the fish market early in the morning, to delicately wielding the knife to get a perfect cut. Indeed, a guide to sushi spots in Tokyo by Expat Bets highlights how Japan’s sushi chefs train for years just to perfect this dish, with sushi treated as something sacred in local food culture. To experience the best sushi Tokyo has to offer, you can head early in the morning to line up at Tokyo fish markets’ famous sushi restaurants: Daiwa Sushi, Sushizanmai, and Sushi Dai. But if you’re not willing to wait, you can make reservations at Mantenzushi, where you can have an omakase course for only 6800 JPY (88.86 SGD).
While it isn’t as popular as sushi or ramen, okonomiyaki is one Japanese dish that deserves the spotlight, too. In a nutshell, an okonomiyaki is a pan-fried dish that’s made with batter, cabbage, pork belly slices, and scallions. You’re also free to add various toppings to your okonomiyaki. This variation of the okonomiyaki is called the monjayaki and you usually make it on your own — deciding which toppings to put from traditional ingredients like chopped squid to something unorthodox like cheese. If you’re craving for this crunchy and filling snack, you can try to get one at Kiji found at Tokyo Station and Shinagawa. If you’re unfortunate enough to get to Kiji during lunch hours, when a long line usually forms, you can also find more than 60 monjayaki restaurants in Tsukishima’s Monja street.
For those who want something crunchy on the outside, but insanely tender and juicy on the inside, you might want to check out Tokyo’s tonkatsu spots. Essentially, a tonkatsu is made with a pork cutlet breaded with panko or Japanese bread crumbs and then deep-fried. This is then often served with a side of rice or cabbage coleslaw. However, almost any ingredient can also be cooked “katsu” style. Popular iterations of this dish are the gyukatsu, or breaded beef cutlet, and menchi-katsu, or breaded minced meat. In Tokyo, you can head to the 77-year-old Tonki Tonkatsu and try their decadent pork cutlet. But if you want a truly luxurious piece of fried pork, you can go to one of Maisen’s many branches in Tokyo. What sets Maisen’s tonkatsu apart is that they use ultrahigh quality meat and you can even choose to have pork sourced from different parts of Japan.
Next time you find yourself in Tokyo, be sure to use our guide for a gastronomic tour of Tokyo’s best dishes. If you want to read more about the hippest restaurants in the world, check out our reviews here on the Ranting Panda.
Ranted by Guest Writer