Washoku and Other Japanese Food – Where to Find What

It hasn’t been too long since our honeymoon in Japan. Apart from the gorgeous sights of the fall colours the one thing that we terribly miss each day is the food! While organising the photos from our various gadgets, I thought to myself, “Hey! Why not make a Japanese food blog?” and here I am typing into my laptop getting all excited and nostalgic!

Here’s a list of all the Japanese food items, both recommended and not so recommended, that we ate or passed by during our 15 day trip including Kyoto, Osaka, Fujikawaguchiko (Mount Fuji) and Tokyo.

#1 Japanese sweets at Haneda Airport (Tokyo)

So we had just landed in Japan and our excitement knew no bounds. Although we did relax a bit on taking a ton a photos as the trip progressed, the initial madness resulted in us pointing and clicking away at whatever we laid our eyes on. These are images of typical Japanese sweets. They were so elegant and delicate looking that we didn’t have the heart to eat them. Or that is what we told ourselves because they were far from being pocket friendly.

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#2 Melonpan and Other Bakery Items

Food wise, Japan impressed us most with its bakery items! Since most of Japan and Kyoto more so, must be traveled on foot, it gives a much wider scope to explore local restaurants or food stores. One such we encountered was a small bakery while treading our way to Ginkakuji Temple, Kyoto.

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Although we were stuffed enough with scrumptious breakfast our host had served us early morning, we couldn’t commit the crime of just walking past this store especially when its sweet smell wafted into our noses. We stepped into a world of a variety of delicious looking breads, cakes, pasties and rolls. Everything looked both wonderful and expensive at the same time.

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Melonpan

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So we decided to grab a single melonpan for both of us and as we bit into the sweet bread we knew at once that we would be eating a lot of these everyday. It was the lightest, airiest and melt-in-mouth bread we had ever tasted. During the next few days of the trip, we were delighted to know that supermarkets like the Seven-Elevens and Family Marts also keep these at a much cheaper rate. But there’s a world of a difference in the way they taste. So if you’re travelling Japan like us for a limited number of days, don’t give it much thought to spend a little extra on baked items offered in local bakeries. They are positively much much better than what you’ll find in chain stores.

#3 Ginkakuji Temple

The small street that leads to the temple sells souvenirs and snacks. We relished these shu cream puffs and chicken karaage and takoyaki. I had heard a lot about takoyaki but neither Daniel nor I enjoyed them a lot. The filling inside was too soggy and undone. I don’t know whether they are supposed to be that way or we ate the wrong ones. But the cream puffs- all three kinds- Matcha, caramel and vanilla flavoured were just awesome!

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#4 Kyoto Station – The Food Heaven

Daniel and I both instantly fell in love with Kyoto station and without a doubt this became my favourite place to be in all of Japan. It is nothing like a station ought to be. The night view is so romantic and breathtaking! It has a huge open staircase that covers ten stories and, of course, an elevator alongside. The last floor is all about food! Among others like pizza, pasta and curry-rice stores, there are plenty of ramen shops which are all equally crowded and you must wait in queues for seats to get empty. But here’s where Japan excels. Outside every store is a vending machine which displays the menu with images of the dishes where you must pre-order, pay and get a coupon. On one hand it seems that the queue is getting longer but on the other, people keep gushing out and the seats keep getting empty quickly.

We ate huge bowls of pork and chicken ramen to our heart’s content and all the exhaustion of air travel was long forgotten.

#5 Fushimi-Inari Taisha Street Food, Kyoto

After attempting the 3 hour trek of Fushimi Inari and failing at it halfway for being out of shape we consoled ourselves with a vanilla soft serve each before starting the descend to the base. By the time we came down the hill, we were famished and were relieved to find a narrow lane full of food stalls just before exiting the premises.

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This guy posing happily for all his customers

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Rice cake dipped in sweet soy sauce

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Potato fries. These were too oily and strictly OK taste-wise

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Bacon wrapped o-nigiri or rice balls topped with pickled ginger. These were the best of the lot. Too bad we didn’t find these anywhere else again.

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As amazing as this looks, there’s really just about a spoonful of actual juice and a lot more pulp that ends up getting wasted. And if I remember correctly, it’s not worth 200 JPY.

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This desert was superb! Both the custard and chocolate varieties were delicious!

#6 Mount Fuji – Hoto Noodles and Fuji shaped food stuff

During our pre-tour research we read a lot of great reviews about Hoto noodles which are only found in Fuji. So we looked forward to try these once we reached Fuji Q Highland. We ordered one all mushroom and one pork hoto noodles. Personally, I didn’t find them all that great. Since I had already tasted ramen a couple of times before and had fallen head over heels for it, I found these thick noodles a little too rubbery and the stew salty. The one attractive element though, is the way it’s served. Plus, it’s too much for a single person. So if you’re hell bent on trying this make sure you order just one between two persons.

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Fuji-san shaped cookies. We bought these near lake Kawaguchi

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Mt Fuji shaped ice candy. Although it was biting cold outside, we snacked on this while waiting for our bus that would take us back to Tokyo and kept fighting for the white jelly on top.

#7 Osaka ExpoCity

We were dizzy with joy when we exited the Pokemon Gym in ExpoCity, Osaka. To top that, we lunched in Gundam cafe and everything we ordered was worth the money.

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You can select the character of your choice for your mug of hot chocolate

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Omurice and Alfredo pasta

#8 Osaka Bay

Of all the places we traveled in Japan, this is the most happening. It is a whole picnic package! It offers a host of experiences including a cruise, a popular aquarium, a ferris wheel towering over the city and Tempozan market place that has some of the best mall foods.

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After ordering these chicken and pork cutlet rice bowls we went straight to the mall’s balcony that looks over the wide and windy bay area. This was hands down one of our most remembered lunches of the trip.

#9 Himeji

As soon as you step out of the Himeji station, you can find the Himeji castle peaking from above the high trees that line the sidewalks of a single stretch of road that separates you and the castle. It is best to walk this street than wait for a bus. It was nearly 10 a.m. in the morning as we picked up speed towards Himeji castle and scanned the area for lunch options we would be needing on our way back. We noticed a small family run store that served Unagi or eel rice bowls and sure enough, we dropped in here for lunch.

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This was by far the best teriyaki chicken! The mayo, the bed of rice, the pickled daikon radish and miso soup, each balanced the other out perfectly.

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The Unagi was grilled to perfection and the seasoning was light and delicious. We thought it was a lot like Bombay Duck both in taste and texture and enjoyed it to bits.

#10 Odaiba (Tokyo)

This man-made island holds a lot of interesting buildings. One of the most visited is DiverCity mall because of its iconic Gundam statue. This was also our first shopping stop in a notably huge Daiso store where we shopped till we dropped. As we entered the food mall in the same building, we saw it was bustling with energy and all stalls disappeared behind long queues. With no choice left we opted for Okonomiyakis (more like sizzlers than the authentic self-grilling ones) and concluded our lunch with cream filled crepes.

#11 Okonomiyaki and Monjayaki in Asakusa (Tokyo)

Thanks to our friends residing in Tokyo, we were introduced to this extremely local place, the kinds we see in J-dramas! For me this was a dream come true! Tiny places which could hardly be called restaurants, serving the popular green bottled beer and mixed smells of grilled meat and alcohol. I felt like a reporter going under cover for a story! We entered this uncomfortably small restaurant cum bar and settled in plastic chairs in a corner, surrounding a heated grilling pan.

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Spinach and cheese Okonomiyaki *** Highly Recommended***

#12 Narita Airport

This was our final meal which was carefully chosen after counting all the small change we were left with. This turned out to be the best departure brunch Japan could bid us farewell with – Omurice, sausages and Spaghetti Carbonara!

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12 thoughts on “Washoku and Other Japanese Food – Where to Find What

  1. ASHISH KHARSIKAR says:

    Great bit of information Mohita. Good that you compiled this information together, as it is always difficult to decide on food in Japan. BTW did you gain lots of weight with this yummy stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jennie S says:

    Wow – everything’s so perfectly presented! I can understand your reticence to eat all these pretty things (at least, at first!). They look delicious – it’s made me hungry, even though it’s only 8.45am in London! Even the airport food looks amazing. What was your all-time favourite dish out of all the things you tried?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Joe says:

    I must confess to having very limited knowledge of Japanese cuisine, with the likes of Teriyaki and Sushi being as far as I have got. I’d never have known that such delicious looking pastries could be found here! And thanks for the video of the eggs too; might just have to try that one 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. LC of Birdgehls says:

    So, possibly TMI, but I ate some Japanese food locally in Australia in 2009 and got violent food poisoning, then DIDN’T EAT IT FOR TWO YEARS until actually going to Japan, and now it is my favourite cuisine. I was drooling from the first photo. I’d go back just for the food.

    Liked by 1 person

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