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Tokyo with Kids


Majra
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We are taking our two kids, ages 12 and 10, on a long-awaited vacation to Japan next month. We'll spend 3 days in Tokyo, 2+ days in Kyoto, and another 3 days in Tokyo. We are looking forward to many aspects of the trip, and expect that our culinary adventures will be a highlight and focus, but I have some concerns about my daughter (age 10) and I'd love some advice. She has an adventurous spirit, but is a sensitive child with a sensitive palate...which means that she can be a picky eater.

At home we do eat out fairly often, usually favoring cheap ethnic eats. She likes spicy food, chicken, some vegetables, some starches. Grilled chicken on a skewer is good. Tonkatsu is a favorite, but sauce must be on the side. Rice can't have sprinkles. Soup is out of the question. Noodles must be the way her mind expects them to be. Most seafood and all unidentifiable sea vegetables will make her cry...I'm sure you get the picture.

So how do you think she'll do??? Will we be able to go to a department store basement and find lunch that won't cause tears? Is it possible for her to eat tonkatsu and French pastry all week, if that's all she can find? Is fresh fruit easily found? FYI, she doesn't like being picky, and we don't hold it against her. I just want everyone to have a positive experience and delicious memories.

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Most sauces are served on the side at restaurants.

Ready to eat meals may have the sauce already prepared, but very often it's in a squeeze-cup or a sachet.

Yakitori (chicken on a skewer) is often served either with sauce (tare) or salt (shio-yaki shio means salt) - the pale one is of course the salt-grilled type. It's easy to find yakitori take-out, it may be harder to find it in a sit-down restaurant.

* Omerettsu (omelet) - is that a possibility? Omu-rice is a ketchup-flavored rice, often with chicken in it, served rolled up in an omelet. Set meals will often include a pale yellow rolled omelet called dashi-maki tamago. That is served cold, which your daughter may find surprising.

In Kyoto, you might try to find a katsu-age shop - it has all sorts of stuff on skewers, and you can pick and choose. It is not like yaki-tori, but normally breaded with very fine breadcrumbs. Not unknown in Tokyo, but more common in Kansai.

Chicken dishes you are likely to find:

*Oyako-don - donburi of plain white rice with egg and herbs, lightly bound in an omelet and seasoned with soy sauce and sugar (basicallly!).

*Chicken-katsu - chicken version of tonkatsu

*Kara-age or tatsuta style deepfried chicken chunks. Kara-age is deepfried in an eggy batter, tatsuta is simply liberally dusted with cornflour before frying.

* Nabe - hotpot dishes. Although cooked in a broth, you normally pull out what you want and dip it in sauce, so your daughter could pull out chunks of chicken and the vegetables she likes, and maybe noodles and tofu, and eat them plain if she wanted.

Even a hot noodle shop (apart from ramen - Chinese noodles) will probably serve noodles cold on a tray, with a dipping sauce separate. That style is called "zaru" or bamboo tray, so you can ask for zaru-soba, zaru-udon etc. It may not be on the menu in winter, but you can almost certainly ask for it and get it year-round.

Another thing to try would be korokke (croquettes - various types of meat either mixed with mashed potato, or with a very stiff white sauce (cream croquette) then breaded in fine breadcrumbs and deepfried. Normally served with a thickish worcestershire sauce - probably served separately, but if you are worried, ask for "sauce wa betsu ni shite, kakenai de kudasai" ( "sauce wa betsu-betsu" is broken Japanese, but easy to remember!)

Not very much spicy food in Japan, especially in Kyoto. You may find "Italian" restaurants easily, and you may be able to ask for "spaghetti wo sono mama de, sauce nashi" (spaghetti just as it is, no sauce), though the staff may be very puzzled!

If you are in Kyoto, try some Japanese sweets. The most famous ones are "yatsuhashi" which are tooth-breaking cinnamon flavored flat or rooftile shaped cookies, or "nama-yatsuhashi" which is the same cinnamon-flavored dough, uncooked. It will mostly come in triangles filled with anko (azuki bean jam) but you may find some unfilled.

As it's coming up to Doll's Festival, there will be pretty candies around, and also neri-kiri

The link shows them being made, and you can see the lump of white bean jam that goes inside (that's called shiro-an). "Anko" or red bean jam is more common, but you can always check what's inside by pointing and asking anko? shiro-an?. A less usual type is made from green peas, called "uguisu-an". They are so pretty it would be a pity not to try one or two! You can find them in department store basements, but there are also lots of stores which sell wagashi (traditional Japanese confectionery).

Fruit in Japan is relatively expensive. In March, the apples will be cheap but also starting to get woolly. Japanese kiwifruit will be cheap, and also getting to the end of the season, so eat quickly.

All kinds of citrus are around - the big ones are peeled, then the membrane is removed from each individual segment and the fruit eaten. Although sharp-tasting, they are usually eaten without sugar, and they are big enough to share.

Apart from that, bananas from the Phillippines are cheap and those from Taiwan moderately priced.

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It's difficult if you have a child who is a picky eater in my experience. With our son, we don't even try to go to places that have unfamiliar things. Unfortunately, the picky eater in the group, child or adult, is going to be the gating factor in your opportunity to enjoy new things. I know about the sauce thing, my nephew used to be that way when he was younger but he outgrew it.

I was a picky eater when I was a child but I usually got around it by eating snacks or something that my parents could bring along to tide me over while everyone else enjoyed their meals.

Your best bet is going to probably be department store basements where she can choose something she likes or perhaps a family style restaurant like Skylark where there is significant variety of choices.

We are taking our two kids, ages 12 and 10, on a long-awaited vacation to Japan next month.  We'll spend 3 days in Tokyo, 2+ days in Kyoto, and another 3 days in Tokyo.  We are looking forward to many aspects of the trip, and expect that our culinary adventures will be a highlight and focus, but I have some concerns about my daughter (age 10) and I'd love some advice.  She has an adventurous spirit, but is a sensitive child with a sensitive palate...which means that she can be a picky eater. 

At home we do eat out fairly often, usually favoring cheap ethnic eats.  She likes spicy food, chicken, some vegetables, some starches.  Grilled chicken on a skewer is good.  Tonkatsu is a favorite, but sauce must be on the side.  Rice can't have sprinkles.  Soup is out of the question.  Noodles must be the way her mind expects them to be.  Most seafood and all unidentifiable sea vegetables will make her cry...I'm sure you get the picture. 

So how do you think she'll do???  Will we be able to go to a department store basement and find lunch that won't cause tears?  Is it possible for her to eat tonkatsu and French pastry all week, if that's all she can find?  Is fresh fruit easily found?  FYI, she doesn't like being picky, and we don't hold it against her.  I just want everyone to have a positive experience and delicious memories.

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At home we do eat out fairly often, usually favoring cheap ethnic eats.  She likes spicy food, chicken, some vegetables, some starches.  Grilled chicken on a skewer is good.  Tonkatsu is a favorite, but sauce must be on the side.  Rice can't have sprinkles.  Soup is out of the question.  Noodles must be the way her mind expects them to be.  Most seafood and all unidentifiable sea vegetables will make her cry...I'm sure you get the picture. 

So how do you think she'll do???  Will we be able to go to a department store basement and find lunch that won't cause tears?  Is it possible for her to eat tonkatsu and French pastry all week, if that's all she can find?  Is fresh fruit easily found?  FYI, she doesn't like being picky, and we don't hold it against her.  I just want everyone to have a positive experience and delicious memories.

Nothing wrong with being sensitive :smile:

"Cheap ethnic" in Tokyo says Okubo to me - that's near Shinjuku. A concentration of cheap ethnic places, especially Thai and Korean. Thai is anyway available throughout the city, as is the Korean yakiniku (grilled meat and accompaniments). I'll second the 'Italian' thought - Italian restaurants are ubiquitous in Tokyo, good and good value.

Tokyo Food Page is your friend (even covering some of Kansai now, including Kyoto) - Tokyo Food Page

See their reference guide (near the bottom of this page) Japanese cuisines

Both yakitori and tonkatsu are widely available, and the plastic-models-in-the-window will help.

Sauce (served) separately = "sauce betsu-betsu"

No sprinkles on the rice = "rice wa furikake nashi de onegaishimasu"

Department store basements will feed you well every time, and there are prepared dishes at many/most supermarkets. In an emergency all convenience stores carry boxed meals and sandwiches / o-nigiri, so even when you are out and about and rushed with it, there's always that. They're 24-hour, too. Fruit is widely available but be prepared to laugh hysterically at the prices :smile:

Specific recommendations would be easier knowing where you plan to stay.

How does your daughter's mind expect noodles to be ?

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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In Kyoto - there are a large number of restaurants with plastic food (WYSIWYG) in the mall underneath the train station (as well as restaurants in the train station (go up the escalators to - I think - about the 7th floor). Low - medium - and lower high end. A lot of places with bento box type meals. With a 10 year old - even if she throws half away - it should be enough food. Should suffice for 2 days in Kyoto.

The department stores in Tokyo do have lots of food - but what you're talking about for the most part is take-out - and the Japanese frown on eating in public (like while you're walking down the street). So where would you eat the food you buy there? A lot of the department store basements in Tokyo do have sit down restaurants - but the food there wasn't that terrific from what I saw. And they're not like food courts where you can buy things from a lot of different places - and use the seats to eat.

I suspect your best bet would be to buy non-perishable stuff in the department store basement grocery sections that you know she will eat - like the fixings for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Pack meals for her in your hotel and take them with you when you explore restaurants. Since she is 10 - and the Japanese are very friendly to children (except perhaps in really high end places) - she'll have somethng to eat - and she won't limit your choices. Robyn

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Majra,

I am sure your whole family will have a wonderful time and I am sure your daughter will be able to find plenty of things to eat.

How much Japanese do you speak and read?

If you don't speak much just remember

sauce betsu betsu -- if you want it on the side

sauce nashi -- if you don't want it all

If no one reads very well you might want to go to places where you know what you are going to get. Examples are:

convenience stores/department store basements/supermarkets: here you can see exactly what you will be getting

restaurants with plastic food displays

Every department store has a restaurant floor, most often the 5th floor, that have a variety of restaurants all with displays in the front. Many stores out on the street have plastic displays as well.

family restaurants/chain restaurants

These places are actually a good place to get a variety of decent priced food and they menus usually have pictures of the different dishes.

Izakayas

especially the chain ones, have large picture menus. These serve a variety of small dishes so she can pick at only the things she likes while everybody else can try many new things.

Fast food

McDonalds is everywhere and you can also find KFC and Wendy's as well as Japanese burger shops like MOS burger and Freshness Burger, most fast food places have a picture menu on the counter at each register.

one dish restaurants

I am sure there is a much better name for this, places like a yakitori shop, tonkatsu shop, ramen shop, etc that only serve one type of food.

Tonkatsu is available pretty much anywhere, tonkatsu bentos can be picked up at pretty much any convenient store and the tonkatsu sandwiches are wonderful.

Also look for karaage, japanese fried chicken, she will probably love this. This is also available in any convenience store or supermarket, in bentos or just on its own.

Some threads you might want to take a look at if you haven't already:

sandwiches

supermarket eats

convenience store eats

Izakayas

Family restaurants

McDonald's Japan

MOS burger

Lotteria (Japanese burger chain)

Nathan's Famous hot dogs

General tips for those travelling to Japan

and for some fun things to do:

Food factory tours

Food theme parks

Yunessan Spa in Hakone (take a bath in coffee, wine or tea)

Edited by torakris (log)

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Most sauces are served on the side at restaurants.

Ready to eat meals may have the sauce already prepared, but very often it's in a squeeze-cup or a sachet.

Yakitori (chicken on a skewer) is often served either with sauce (tare) or salt (shio-yaki shio means salt) - the pale one is of course the salt-grilled type. It's easy to find yakitori take-out, it may be harder to find it in a sit-down restaurant.

* Omerettsu (omelet) - is that a possibility? Omu-rice is a ketchup-flavored rice, often with chicken in it, served rolled up in an omelet. Set meals will often include a pale yellow rolled omelet called dashi-maki tamago. That is served cold, which your daughter may find surprising.

In Kyoto, you might try to find a katsu-age shop - it has all sorts of stuff on skewers, and you can pick and choose. It is not like yaki-tori, but normally breaded with very fine breadcrumbs. Not unknown in Tokyo, but more common in Kansai.

Chicken dishes you are likely to find:

*Oyako-don - donburi of plain white rice with egg and herbs, lightly bound in an omelet and seasoned with soy sauce and sugar (basicallly!).

*Chicken-katsu - chicken version of tonkatsu

*Kara-age or tatsuta style deepfried chicken chunks. Kara-age is deepfried in an eggy batter, tatsuta is simply liberally dusted with cornflour before frying.

Oh my goodness, thank you for taking the time to give me such a detailed and thoughtful response. You've given many wonderful suggestions, many that will surely fit the bill. I'm going to print out your entire message and put it with our itinerary.

The katsu-age shop sounds like something the whole family will love! The omelet suggestions are iffy--she likes eggs and often eats them scrambled with rice (and hot sauce), but a dish like donburi might backfire if it looks familiar but doesn't taste just like mom's.

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It's difficult if you have a child who is a picky eater in my experience.  With our son, we don't even try to go to places that have unfamiliar things.  Unfortunately, the picky eater in the group, child or adult, is going to be the gating factor in your opportunity to enjoy new things.  I know about the sauce thing, my nephew used to be that way when he was younger but he outgrew it.

I was a picky eater when I was a child but I usually got around it by eating snacks or something that my parents could bring along to tide me over while everyone else enjoyed their meals.

Your best bet is going to probably be department store basements where she can choose something she likes or perhaps a family style restaurant like Skylark where there is significant variety of choices.

Thanks for your advice. I agree that finding places to eat with a group often comes down to figuring out the lowest common denominator. It's ok with me, we can work around it. We are not planning any high-end dining for this trip, it's a family excursion and we will all be delighted just to be there.

I was also a picky eater as a kid, and I sure turned out ok.

Question about department store basement food: If she picks something she likes, can we bring it into a restaurant for her to eat while the rest of us eat something from the menu? Or would that be frowned upon?

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Question about department store basement food:  If she picks something she likes, can we bring it into a restaurant for her to eat while the rest of us eat something from the menu? Or would that be frowned upon?

As in most restaurants anywhere in the world I am sure this would be frowned upon. I would suggest going to the restaurant first and trying to find something on the menu, I am pretty sure you will be able to find something, even if it is just a bowl of rice or a side of french fries. If she is still hungry then stop somewhere on the way back and pick her up something to eat at the hotel.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Nothing wrong with being sensitive  :smile:

"Cheap ethnic" in Tokyo says Okubo to me - that's near Shinjuku.  A concentration of cheap ethnic places, especially Thai and Korean.  Thai is anyway available throughout the city, as is the Korean yakiniku (grilled meat and accompaniments).  I'll second the 'Italian' thought - Italian restaurants are ubiquitous in Tokyo, good and good value.

Tokyo Food Page is your friend (even covering some of Kansai now, including Kyoto) - Tokyo Food Page

See their reference guide (near the bottom of this page) Japanese cuisines

Both yakitori and tonkatsu are widely available, and the plastic-models-in-the-window will help.

Sauce (served) separately = "sauce betsu-betsu"

No sprinkles on the rice = "rice wa furikake nashi de onegaishimasu"

Department store basements will feed you well every time, and there are prepared dishes at many/most supermarkets.  In an emergency all convenience stores carry boxed meals and sandwiches / o-nigiri, so even when you are out and about and rushed with it, there's always that.  They're 24-hour, too.  Fruit is widely available but be prepared to laugh hysterically at the prices  :smile:

Specific recommendations would be easier knowing where you plan to stay.

How does your daughter's mind expect noodles to be ?

I wish I could figure out this quote feature on eGullet, there are so many comments within your post that I would like to insert a response to, but I can't seem to wrap my brain around that feature. Anyway...

This is all fantastic info. Thank you.

* No, there is nothing wrong with being sensitive, in fact it serves her well in many areas of her life. We do not hold it against her!

* She loves Thai food, and grilled meats, and it is nice to know that they are widely available.

* In Tokyo we are staying at the Cerulean Tower in the Shibuya area. Do you know anything about that particular area of the city?

* Thanks for the links; I'll be sure to check them out.

* As for the noodle question, I wish I knew the answer to that million dollar question. :biggrin:

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In Kyoto - there are a large number of restaurants with plastic food (WYSIWYG) in the mall underneath the train station (as well as restaurants in the train station (go up the escalators to - I think - about the 7th floor).  Low - medium - and lower high end.  A lot of places with bento box type meals.  With a 10 year old - even if she throws half away - it should be enough food.  Should suffice for 2 days in Kyoto.

The department stores in Tokyo do have lots of food - but what you're talking about for the most part is take-out - and the Japanese frown on eating in public (like while you're walking down the street).  So where would you eat the food you buy there?  A lot of the department store basements in Tokyo do have sit down restaurants - but the food there wasn't that terrific from what I saw.  And they're not like food courts where you can buy things from a lot of different places - and use the seats to eat.

Thanks for the feedback on Kyoto. From what I've been reading, that train station sounds like a destination in itself! We will have fun exploring there.

Re: Tokyo department store foods, I am surprised to hear that there are no tables to eat at. I knew that it wasn't cool to walk around while eating, so I guess I assumed it was set up similar to a food court with tables and chairs. Where do the Japanese eat the foods they buy there? Do they carry it back to home or the office?

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Majra,

I am sure your whole family will have a wonderful time and I am sure your daughter will be able to find plenty of things to eat.

How much Japanese do you speak and read?

If you don't speak much just remember

sauce betsu betsu -- if you want it on the side

sauce nashi -- if you don't want it all

If no one reads very well you might want to go to places where you know what you are going to get. Examples are:

convenience stores/department store basements/supermarkets: here you can see exactly what you will be getting

restaurants with plastic food displays

Every department store has a restaurant floor, most often the 5th floor, that have a variety of restaurants all with displays in the front. Many stores out on the street have plastic displays as well.

family restaurants/chain restaurants

These places are actually a good place to get a variety of decent priced food and they menus usually have pictures of the different dishes.

Izakayas

especially the chain ones, have large picture menus. These serve a variety of small dishes so she can pick at only the things she likes while everybody else can try many new things.

Fast food

McDonalds is everywhere and you can also find KFC and Wendy's as well as Japanese burger shops like MOS burger and Freshness Burger, most fast food places have a picture menu on the counter at each register.

one dish restaurants

I am sure there is a much better name for this, places like a yakitori shop, tonkatsu shop, ramen shop, etc that only serve one type of food.

Tonkatsu is available pretty much anywhere, tonkatsu bentos can be picked up at pretty much any convenient store and the tonkatsu sandwiches are wonderful.

Also look for karaage, japanese fried chicken, she will probably love this. This is also available in any convenience store or supermarket, in bentos or just on its own.

Wow, torakris, I think I just hit the jackpot with all of this information. You and everyone else have definitely given me the boost of confidence that I was looking for! Thank you!

Your specific recommendations sound perfect. I was hoping for you to reply because I knew that you had kids around the same age and would understand the inner mechanics of family dining. :laugh: We will be eating the kinds of casual quick food that you recommend in between sightseeing and shopping adventures.

Re: Japanese, we do not speak nor read the language. But we're not afraid of the world either, and can fend for ourselves/laugh at ourselves where necessary. ;) My husband did some traveling in Japan last year and he did pretty well for himself considering the language barrier. This will be my first trip to Japan. My travels to Asia before now have been limited to China, Hong Kong, and Thailand. This trip will be my kids' first time out of the US.

I've explored a lot of the threads that you linked; it's probably time to go back and take notes. :wink: The ramen museum is on my short-list of places to go. Have you been, and would you recommend it?

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Question about department store basement food:  If she picks something she likes, can we bring it into a restaurant for her to eat while the rest of us eat something from the menu? Or would that be frowned upon?

As in most restaurants anywhere in the world I am sure this would be frowned upon. I would suggest going to the restaurant first and trying to find something on the menu, I am pretty sure you will be able to find something, even if it is just a bowl of rice or a side of french fries. If she is still hungry then stop somewhere on the way back and pick her up something to eat at the hotel.

That's what I figured; thanks for confirming my suspicions.

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*  In Tokyo we are staying at the Cerulean Tower in the Shibuya area.  Do you know anything about that particular area of the city?

*  As for the noodle question, I wish I knew the answer to that million dollar question. :biggrin:

Well, there are a lot of different kinds here, so she's coming to the right place if it's a quest :smile: I'm so happy for your kids - what a great experience the trip will be for them !

Shibuya is a major centre with everything that's been suggested, many times over, and Cerulean Tower is a very nice hotel, and very new. They have good English-speaking staff who will give you all the street directions you need.

Right behind the hotel (like 2 minutes away) there is a family restaurant called "Jonathan's" (open 24 hours for those of you stuck on Florida time)

Main menu

Take-out menu (11am - 1pm)

Do your kids like to make things or play with stuff :biggrin: ? Do you know 'Tokyu Hands'? It's a mecca for anyone who has ever wanted to design, build or make something if only they had... (whatever it is, TH has it - but give everyone a budget before you get there). As an eGulleteer you will most likely love their kitchen section. Open 10am - 8:30pm, 10-15 minutes walk from your hotel, and the route takes you across a central section of Shibuya and past many local restaurants. A minute from Tokyo Hands is a branch of Saizeriya, (*very* reasonable, good family Italian). The headings on the left here link to menu listings with English subtitles. The first floor information counter in TH will direct you.

For Thai, Chang Pha in the well-known 109 building has a good reputation. On the way to or from Tokyu Hands. Anyway you will not have a problem in Shibuya finding somewhere for you all to eat - problems choosing, maybe, but not finding.

Department stores - Seibu and Tokyu are the biggies in Shibuya, I guess. Seibu is 5 minutes' walk from TH, 10-15 from the hotel (these 10-15 minute walks will work out to a 7 - 10 buck cab ride (seats 4) if your legs get tired).

As for supermarkets in Shibuya, I draw a blank on specifics :smile: - sorry. Convenience stores - there is a 7-11 in the hotel building, and a Lawson beside it.

Finally, "look up !" is good advice for visitors. After all these years I'm still not sure I'm used to looking from the street for restaurants on the 5th, 6th seventh or higher floors. The number of eateries on the basement level also makes "look down !" worth remembering. Flex your neck !

I think Japan will be very comfortable for someone as well-mannered as you, Majra.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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Re: Tokyo department store foods, I am surprised to hear that there are no tables to eat at.  I knew that it wasn't cool to walk around while eating, so I guess I assumed it was set up similar to a food court with tables and chairs.  Where do the Japanese eat the foods they buy there?  Do they carry it back to home or the office?

Department store basements aren't food courts. The food that is bought is meant to be taken home (or back to the office) and eaten. If you do want to eat nearby check the floor directories (next the elevators or in pamphlet form near entrances) many department stores have open areas/play areas on the roof. Though your kids are a little old for the play areas there are also many benches/tables and a variety of vending machines up there as well. It could be quite cold up there next month but that is what those hot cans of tea and coffee in the vending machines are for. :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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In Kyoto - there are a large number of restaurants with plastic food (WYSIWYG) in the mall underneath the train station (as well as restaurants in the train station (go up the escalators to - I think - about the 7th floor).  Low - medium - and lower high end.  A lot of places with bento box type meals.  With a 10 year old - even if she throws half away - it should be enough food.  Should suffice for 2 days in Kyoto.

The department stores in Tokyo do have lots of food - but what you're talking about for the most part is take-out - and the Japanese frown on eating in public (like while you're walking down the street).  So where would you eat the food you buy there?  A lot of the department store basements in Tokyo do have sit down restaurants - but the food there wasn't that terrific from what I saw.  And they're not like food courts where you can buy things from a lot of different places - and use the seats to eat.

Thanks for the feedback on Kyoto. From what I've been reading, that train station sounds like a destination in itself! We will have fun exploring there.

Re: Tokyo department store foods, I am surprised to hear that there are no tables to eat at. I knew that it wasn't cool to walk around while eating, so I guess I assumed it was set up similar to a food court with tables and chairs. Where do the Japanese eat the foods they buy there? Do they carry it back to home or the office?

Torakris has basically answered this question.

But - no matter what you plan on spending - I think you should try to avoid dumbing down your food to the tastes of a picky 10 year old eater. You can - of course - do it in Japan. At McDonald's or KFC and the like. Just seems like a waste of a very long trip. Robyn

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Shibuya is a major centre with everything that's been suggested, many times over, and Cerulean Tower is a very nice hotel, and very new.  They have good English-speaking staff who will give you all the street directions you need.

<snip>

Finally, "look up !" is good advice for visitors.  After all these years I'm still not sure I'm used to looking from the street for restaurants on the 5th, 6th seventh or higher floors.  The number of eateries on the basement level also makes "look down !" worth remembering.  Flex your neck !

Blether, thanks for another great response. I followed all of the links that you provided--I love this part of trip planning. It's so fun when you put a couple of stakes in the ground and the rest starts falling into place. Your advice is appreciated.

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But - no matter what you plan on spending - I think you should try to avoid dumbing down your food to the tastes of a picky 10 year old eater.  You can - of course - do it in Japan.  At McDonald's or KFC and the like.  Just seems like a waste of a very long trip.  Robyn

No worries there, Robyn. We don't eat fast food here, I don't see any reason why we'd start on the other side of the planet. :wink: Even my "picky" child would choose tonkatsu over McD's 10 times out of 10.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm sure it will be easier to find something for her to eat than you think. When I was 11 years old I came to Japan to stay with my grandparents for the summer and was served many foods that at the time I was totally repelled by. But by the time I got home I had learned to like, even love, all kinds of new foods including former enemies such as tofu and fishy-fish like mackerel. It was a great experience for both me and my burgeoning palate. Good luck!

Hikari

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  • 2 weeks later...

We arrived at our hotel last night after a surprisingly tolerable 27 hour journey from our home in Florida. Tired but hungry, we set out to find dinner. After strolling a few blocks and looking in many restaurant windows (so much to choose from!), our kids were most intrigued by the system at this little restaurant. Probably no big deal in the Japan forum, but pretty novel for us.

Pick your dish from the window display:

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Buy your meal ticket at the vending machine:

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Go inside to eat: (This photo is called "Failed Noodle Experiment #1," but I do love her optimism.)

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I ordered this set, which had soup with soba noodles and a tonkatsu with egg over rice dish. I think it cost either 590 or 690 yen. It was tasty, and the portion was very large. I probably only ate half of it. My son and husband had similar meals, but with udon and different pork and rice dishes.

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After a luxurious full night's sleep we hit the streets bright and early this morning. First stop was for coffee, which I was thrilled to find so easily. We spent the morning poking around Shibuya, so much to do so much to see. :shock: My daughter needed to nap so I am back at the hotel while she rests, but if you see us around town (!) please say hi! :biggrin:

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Thanks for the photos and your interesting observation.

What you described as a "tonkatsu with egg over rice dish" is actually called katsu don (tonkatsu donburi). There are other good donburi dishes like tendon (tempura donburi) and gyudon (beef bowl).

I hope you enjoy your stay in Japan. :smile:

And thanks again for the photos, especially the last one, which shows the faithful dog called chuken hachiko. I was born and bred in Shibuya, and that photo brings back memories.

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Our kids have good stamina, and we took them to the edge yesterday. Needing a simple sit-down meal at the end of our first long and jet-lagged day, we went to Jonathan's near our hotel. Thank you for the recommendation, Blether. This style of restaurant fit the family's needs just right. My husband and I would have preferred something more adventurous, but we took our kids' cues instead. This was the scene as we took our seats.

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The waitress brought these kiddie place settings which my kids would usually find silly, but when she pointed them towards the self-serve beverage bar, they didn't turn up their noses. Nothing like a little cup of bright green Fanta to perk up a weary soul.

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My son and I both ordered this tonkatsu with rice and miso soup. My daughter had tonkatsu a la carte (I shared some rice with her). We all ate well.

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My husband had spaghetti with chicken and mozerella cheese, which he enjoyed too.

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We are looking forward to more food adventures in Tokyo today!

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