Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.


Tasting Japan

Recommended Posts

15 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

Great stuff, as (almost*) ever.


I'm wondering. You showed one English language menu. Is it common or not for places to have English menus? It's been 25 years since I was in Japan and there were none then, that I remember.


*You know what I am referring to! One lapse in judgement I can take! 😁 😁

I think a lot of places had English menus, I didn’t always photograph them. Perhaps in our 14 days  x 2 or 3 meals a day we were without an English menu maybe 7 or 8 times. Kinda made it more fun.

Sorry again for the 🌽.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

In Takayama we enjoyed a traditional kasakei meal served in our room. 



There’s so much going on here, I can’t begin to explain. First the charming lady sets out the pieces.



No English to explain, but we figure it out






All exquisite little bites.

Then the elderly owner of the guest house gives us a box of biscuits (German, but hey)



And we retire to a warm onsen, bliss.



  • Like 11

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, liuzhou said:






WOW is right!


  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you do sake tasting at different breweries?

I had a nice time in pretty Takayama. Did you visit the village in Shirarawa-go? Takayama is all about Hida beef and sake. Would go back for both.


There are any sake tasting rooms if you want to test your liver's limit. I had barely scratched the surface in 3 days.



At one of the most popular beef restaurants in town. There's always a queue there so prepare to wait.



Almost 50 euros for the above plate.



Rural Japan



Buckwheat rows in the foreground. Most people grow fruits, vegs, even rice around their houses. Very typical in rural Japan.



Kaiseki meals served at traditional inns are incredible and so beautifully presented. One of the highlights of eating in Japan. Mine came with a menu of courses served in this particular order. The food just kept coming and coming. 


  • Like 9

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

@BonVivant yes we did sake tasting in two places. Didn’t get to Shirikawa-go, my motto is always save something for next time :) We did try the hida beef too, (even though I try not to eat animals these days which was difficult in Japan).

Lovely photos.



Edited by sartoric (log)
  • Like 3

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Breakfast at our Ryokan onsen was almost as special as dinner.



There’s a flame under this beef.



Onwards through beautifully coloured countryside to Kyoto.



And these little treats, an egg batter filled with shrimp and fried in kinda mini muffin pans. Served with soup and Mitsuba.



A modern day isakaya, four tables with room for say 24 at a pinch. Note the coat hangers for your jacket.



Happy owner who made us very welcome 



Some gratuitous supermarket shots, round the corner and open 24 hours.




  • Like 14

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


On a day trip to Nara we were accompanied by swarms of school kids who were incredibly orderly. The weather was perfect, the sightseeing impressive, the food delicious and the deer friendly. 





You could have coffee with an owl (or a pussy cat). 

We didn’t do it, seems exploitative, but I did ask for a photo for my owl crazy niece.




Lunch at a busy restaurant. The crab cake here was superb. Grilled king mushrooms, chicken teriyaki, a bowl of soup and a small plate of dressed vegetables each.




Manhole covers are often works of art.






Edited by sartoric Fix photos (log)
  • Like 12

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

A bit late, but thank you so much for this! I'll probably never make it to Japan, but reading your descriptions and seeing your photos are a good substitute for now!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

But wait, there’s more ! 

We spent 5 nights in Kyoto, a charming city which is definitely on the return list. 

This local isakaya specialises in okonomiyaki, or Japanese pizza as the owner laughingly referred to it. I want one of these giant grills !




We we had a little chicken to start...



Then the okonomiyaki itself, topped with dancing shaved bonito.



The outside of isakaya were easy to spot with the red lanterns signalling “open”. That didn’t always mean we’d get a seat.



  • Like 8

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

The market in Kyoto was larger and even more crowded than Kanazawa, with many more foreign tourists ignoring the “Do not eat and walk”. You are supposed to eat whatever you bought, at the stall you bought it from, even if that means standing in a tight space. We returned to this market more than once. 

Tasty things on sticks





Pickled everything (taken before I noticed the no photos sign, apologised profusely, accepted gracefully).




There are hundreds of restaurants within the market precinct.

We chose this one, udon noodles with tempura prawns for me



Chicken with noodles and leeks for him



On a subsequent visit fried bean curd 



Someone got to try a fresh sea urchin, $20 well spent, you can taste the ozone.



Matcha ice cream, love this.


  • Like 9

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Literally 20 meters around the corner from our hotel was a bar called Bond. I kid you not.

It’s a standing bar, no seats, just small tables to lean against with very fresh and tasty snacks. It became our regular, being such a handy spot to stop for a cleansing ale after a long day touring around. We got stuck here a few times.

Shared sashimi platter



Tempura whitebait and cant remember vegetable.



Tempura prawn, squid and pickled ginger



In my best Scottish brogue....Bond, bar Bond.




  • Like 9

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites



So the lovely people at EG posted my Tasting Sri Lanka report on Facebook today. That prompted me to revisit it, and realise that these food reports are a great way to relive my trip. Never did finish Japan....so here goes.


This isikaya was literally on the corner of our hotels street, less than 20 meters away. 

Grilled on a hibachi - quail eggs, shiitake mushrooms with daikon, roasted garlic and some fried chicken.








We stayed in Kyoto for 5 nights, it was good to get to know our hood. 

This place had an open mic night for local musicians. 



And pretty good ramen.




I had a number of items on my “must try” list. One was yakiniku where you grill your own food, although we sat at the bar where a genial waiter did it for us. This place was recommended by hotel reception, who weren’t to know I try to avoid meat. The only thing on the menu was beef, admittedly every part of the cow, stomach, heart, testicles ALL of it. Oh well. We did enjoy it (guilty face) but had to politely decline an invitation to return with some other people we’d met at our hotel.


The sides were great and that looks like a glass of white wine rather than sake.



Not organ meat. Note big blob of fat to grease the griddle.


  • Like 6

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Kyoto station is incredible. Apart from the efficient trains, there’s an eleven level mall attached selling anything you could want to buy, countless eateries, a train museum and brilliant people watching. 


We found Ramen Street (floor 10 I think) where you pay for your selection of dishes at a vending machine outside the restaurant. They’re very easy to use, have an English option and someone available to help if needed. This particular ramen restaurant uses a recipe from the northern part of Japan with a cold climate. Fascinating to read and follow the printed instructions. Mark had pork, mine was vegetarian.





The instructions.



Interior, small but carefully crafted. A small basket is provided under the table for your handbag, shopping, camera etc.



Looking down towards the banks of escalators which descend in a straight line to ground level.



While travelling down and looking up - the roof.



Kyoto is a fascinating city.


We didn’t need these potsticker dumplings, but they were there !


Edited by sartoric Add a few words (log)
  • Like 4

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Our last day in Japan is a long transit one. We take a bus to Osaka airport, to fly to Narita, where, with several hours to spare we grab a train to Narita town, then return for a quick bite and last minute shopping before our 8 hour overnight flight home. 


There was still food to tick off the list...

At Kyoto airport a sushi train where you ordered via iPad on your table, or took a plate off the conveyor.



Finally some eel and okay we’d had lots of sashimi, more the better.






In a little local bar in Narita town there was Japanese curry on the menu. OMG, we hadn’t had one of those ! Fixed.



Typical really, this last quick bite at Narita airport was the worst meal of the trip. A bit of tempura and udon noodle soup. 

Lucky I had snacks for the flight.



That’s a wrap for Japan ! 

Such an amazing country, cool people, fantastic food, interesting architecture and culture. I’m sure we’ll return.



  • Like 3
  • Thanks 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you have never seen a Japanese train station from above...

Arrived in the evening and got only a couple of hours of sleep on my first night so I had a lot of time to make photos.


Osaka main train station at sunrise:



From breakfast room on the top floor. Elevated roads between buildings.



Fancy or expensive food never satisfies me. The simplest meals do. First udon soup on my first evening in Japan remains a great all-time favourite.



I hope to see a smoking ban in a near future, only then will Japan take its number one spot on my list.

  • Like 6

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/9/2019 at 6:02 PM, BonVivant said:

I hope to see a smoking ban in a near future, only then will Japan take its number one spot on my list.



With you on that. Some streets in Gion district  ban smoking, not only in restaurants, but everywhere including on the street. It is slowly changing. Very slowly.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By Drew777
      I'm a Brit. I'm also a closet Frenchman.  To cap it all, I'm happily retired in Bangkok, the city of a street food culture that's second to none. The Thais are healthy and slim. I'm just this side of alive and far from slim. Lockdown has me fantasizing about my days working in London, Paris and New York, an existence, if one could call it that, revolving around gastronomy of one kind or another. They paid me, not so very much as it happens, to do what I enjoy doing most in life. We all get to do it, but I was one of a fortunate few who made it his metier. Well all that's in the past now, but I still dream of my time in Paris when lunch was a tad short of 2-hours, little-known local bistros remained affordable until the day they were discovered by La Bible (Michelin Guide) and the students were revolting - this was the summer of '68, for heaven's sake. Someone should open bistro here in Bangkok with a table d'hote of Soupe a l'Oignon gratinee, Blanquette de Veau, a stinky Epoisses and Tarte Tatin to finsih with creme fraiche. Ah, it's back to lockdown and pad Thai. 
    • By KennethT
      I was thinking of doing a food blog of my recent trip through parts of New Zealand's south island.  Most of the food we had was nothing spectacular, but the experiences and various scenery we had over the trip were amazing.  Is there any interest in this?
    • By Melania
      It's one o'clock on a warm summer's day in Florence, I'm on my way to get ingredients for lunch. The sun is high in the sky, the cobblestones are warm under my feet and the aroma of something delicious is in the air. My mind starts to drift to the onions, celery and tomatoes I need for my pasta sauce, oh and don't forget something sweet for dessert...this truly is la dolce vita.
      My thoughts are soon interrupted by an unwelcome "chiuso" sign on the door of my new favorite deli. The blinds are closed and the friendly owners are nowhere in sight. The reality of having my favorite pasta dish for lunch was slipping further and further away.
      What a nightmare! How can this be?
        A local passing by must have noticed my frustration.   "Signorina, è riposo. Tutto è chiuso!"
        Of course! How could I forget about the sacred Italian siesta?
        A siesta or riposo, as most Italians call it, is a time of rest. This time is usually around midday, or the hottest part of the day (very inconvenient if you're craving a bowl of pasta.) No one can really say where the tradition of the siesta originates, but many say it's all about food (no surprises there really).
        For many Italian families the main meal of the day is lunch. This heavy meal in the middle of the day is attributed to the standard Mediterranean diet: A minuscule breakfast of a coffee and pastry , a heavy lunch and an evening meal around 10 o'clock. The logic is that after such a heavy meal one would surely be drowsy and need to rest, no one can work efficiently on a full stomach!
        Post offices, car rentals, supermarkets and even coffee shops (in some smaller towns police stations too) all close their doors for a riposo. Everything comes to a standstill as every Italian goes home to kick of their shoes, enjoy a homemade lunch with family and bask in the Italian sunshine for three to four hours. This is serious business. One would not dare work for 8 hours straight. After their riposo most businesses open again around 4 o'clock and stay open till 7pm. Its the perfect balance between work and play and does wonders for your digestive system!
        "Grazie!" I thanked her for the reminder. The midday sun started to become unbearable. The streets had cleared with only a few tourists braving the midday heat still around. I thought about the strawberries I bought from the market earlier that week. Strawberries for lunch on my shaded balcony and maybe a nap afterwards sounded like my perfect riposo. The pasta will have to wait till 4.
    • By KennethT
      OK.... here we go again!!!  While this post is a bit premature (we don't take off until around 1:30AM tonight), I am extremely excited so I figured I'd just set up the topic now.  As in previous foodblogs, I may post a bit from time to time while we're there, depending on how good my internet connection is, and how much free time I have... but the bulk of posting will really get started around July 9th - the day after we get home (hopefully without too much jetlag!!!)
    • By KennethT
      Happy New Year!  I'm sitting at the gate waiting for my flight from Saigon to NYC connecting through Taipei so I figured this would be a good opportunity to get started... But this is just the intro- the rest will gave to wait until I land about 22 hours from now, sleep for about 12 hours, then get my photos in order! We had a great week enjoying beautiful weather, taking in the frenetic yet relaxed street life and eating some amazing local food...
      Our flight here was on EVA Airline and was very pleasant and uneventful. Our flight from Nyc to Taipei left around 12:20 AM on the 24th. I love those night flights since it makes it very easy to get a decent amount of sleep, even in coach. EVAs food is quite good eith both Chinese and western choices for dinner and breakfast, and they came through several times with snacks such as a fried chicken sandwich with some kind of mustard. I think I had 4 of them!
      Once I get home, I'll continue posting with pics from our feast in the Taipei airport.... Spoiler: those who have read my Singapore foodblog from July may see a slight trend...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...