So I must apologise for my absence these past two weeks, I’ve been away holidaying in Japan and wow what an amazing place!! My boyfriend and I spent the majority of our time in Tokyo but managed to fit in a day trip to Osaka to go to Universal Studios (the bullet train was a great experience in and of itself!) But of course my favourite part about the whole experience was the food! I am a huge fan of Japanese food; sushi, sashimi, udon, soba noodles, I love it all! On top of this is the added bonus that the vast majority of Japanese food is quite different to the dishes they serve here at home. Usually, Japanese restaurants in Australia serve a lot of sushi rolls (which I love) including those with chicken, cooked seafoods, beef etc. and stir-fried vegetable/noodle dishes but what we found in Japan is that the most common dishes are those that include sliced, fresh sashimi on top of a small mound of rice. As well as this I discovered a new-found love of soba noodles served cold and udon served in a flavoursome broth (I was travelling in Winter so these dishes really warmed me up!)
Another thing that really took me by surprise was the “obsession” with international foods such as pasta and pizza that many of the locals had (and I must add to this that they really cook their pasta well!)
Whilst exploring this beautiful place we came across so many wonderful, authentic Japanese restaurants serving fresh delicious food for such a small price. To try and name them would be unbelievably difficult as there wasn’t one place that we ate at that I wouldn’t recommend (also most of their names were in Japanese!) but two places that we did “accidentally” stumble across that are worth a mention are Bills and Gonpachi.
Bills, located in Omotesando, is a beautiful open plan location overlooking the bustling shopping district below. The restaurant is surrounded by long glass windows that allow the light to just spill in over their diners. I also loved the giant bookcase situated on the far left side of the space, I was so tempted to go over and find myself something to read but my boyfriend said no 😦 If you’re going to pay the restaurant a visit, beware that there will be a line, it seems its a local favourite but sometimes you can be lucky enough to snap up a table with very little to no wait time. For lunch, I had the prawn and chilli linguini ($13) which was huge and absolutely delicious. The prawns were large and plump and the pasta cooked al dente. The whole thing was tossed through a rich, tomato sauce with a hint of chilli and fresh rocket! My only complaint was that they didn’t have parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top. My boyfriend also ordered the wagyu burger served with beetroot, zucchini pickles, tomato chilli jam and herbed french fries ($20) and the parmesan crumbed chicken schnitzel served with fennel slaw and lemon mash ($15.00). I had a little taste test of his schnitzel and mash which was moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. The mash was the highlight for me though being full flavoured, creamy and rich. Absolutely delicious! A lot of diners around us were also ordering the ricotta hotcakes with fresh banana and honeycomb butter ($14.00) but unfortunately we couldn’t fit it in our bellies (there is also a 25min wait time for these so make sure you keep that in mind). Overall, it was a wonderful dining experience that I would highly recommend. The prices especially are very reasonable compared to what I would pay for the same thing in Australia. Great service throughout the whole experience as well. I was quite taken that the waitress explained to us that certain dishes were big enough to share or not enough for a big eater etc.
Fans of the movie Kill Bill will be familiar with Gonpachi (located in Ginza), which is where part of the movie was filmed (I have yet to see it so I’m not sure exactly what part but i believe its the big fight scene with Uma Therman). Anyway, when we entered we were greeted with a refreshing, zingy punch, complementary. As we hadn’t made a booking we were seated at the “bar” which encloses the kitchen. I actually quite liked this seat as I got to watch what was going on. Before I tell you about the food, I should probably preface myself by saying that Gonpachi is a very touristy restaurant and as a result the prices are a bit higher then that found elsewhere with smaller portion sizes. We also noticed that the turnover of tables is a lot faster then usual, so it felt a little like we were being hurried along and our dishes came out very quickly. Myself and my two dinner guests ordered a selection of dishes which we shared, again probably something that I would recommend. Two of my favourite dishes of the night were the Karaage (fried chicken) ($6.50) which was small pieces of moist chicken coated in a crisp flavoursome batter, and the Ebi Shinjyo (fried shrimp dumplings) ($3.80 p/p) which had a prawn filling encased in a lattice like pastry, deep fried until crisp and drizzled with yuzu and sweet chilli sauce. Yum!
Another interesting dish were the Gonpachi Supreme Skewers ($35) which included three skewers of Toro, Fois Gras & Beef. It was very interesting to try fois gras for the first time and this was very rich and creamy but for $35 probably not the most worthwhile dish i’ve ever eaten. Overall, it was a really nice dining experience but just prepare for a larger bill then normal and a slightly emptier belly.
I was so sad to leave Japan as it is such a wonderful, diverse place filled with the most well mannered and friendly people. I can’t wait to go back and explore the city some more one day soon and would easily recommend it to any other travellers out there! Does anyone else have some recommended places to visit in Japan?