Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Tokyo: Food experience

Japanese love their seafood. They eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They even have snacks and sweets that taste or are shaped like fish. 

After a few days of seafood I was ready to go back to chicken and beef. But they are not very common and the food we tried tasted awful - I'm not exaggerating. We had a hamburger that cost $8 and tasted worse than the processed food you can buy at McDonalds. 

In the US restaurants have photos of their menu on display for customers to get an idea of what's on the menu. In Japan, every restaurant has window displays with plastic or wax food samples.  They are custom made and hand sculpted to match the restaurant menu. They look like the real thing.

Kappabashi Street in Tokyo is a shopping district specializing in kitchen and restaurant products. There are over 100 stores selling all types of kitchen ware, professional knives, linens, ceramics, and of course, plastic food samples.We thought about getting some plastic food as toys for the kids until we saw the price tag. They can cost up to $100 for one dish.

Japanese are some of the most efficient people I've met.  They are orderly in the way they walk along the sidewalk, queue up in lines to wait for their rail car and even serve their food.

One sushi restaurant we visited had numbered chair set up for those waiting in line. As people waiting in front of you entered the restaurant, those next in line moved up to spots number 1 and 2 and so forth.

Inside the restaurant was an open kitchen surrounded by a tall bar with a conveyor belt. The sushi chef would assemble the dish, place it on the correct color coded plate. The patron sitting on the other side of the bar has a legend indicating the price of each item by the color and pattern on the plate it is served in.

We just sat down, and watch the food parade in front of us until we found something we liked. We then pulled it off the belt and ate it. At the end of the meal the waitress just added up the cost by counting the plates and presented us with our bill.

Another common way to order is through vending machines. The machine has a picture and the price of the items served. We just inserted our money and pressed the button corresponding to what we wished to eat. The machine then printed out a ticket and gave us back our change. Once done, we entered the restaurant and turned in the ticket with our order.

We tried all kids of interesting things while there. In fact, half of our carry on bag was filled with candy and sweets from japan to share with the kids and family.

A popular sweet is Taiyaki. A fish-shape waffle filled with red bean paste. We tried eating it with custard but the red bean paste tasted the best.

Authentic japanese ramen noodles are actually pretty tasty. Nothing compared to the packaged stuff you can buy here in the us for less than $1.  It was our quick and inexpensive go to meal on a couple of occasions.

After a few days of japanese food we opted to have some good old pizza. It didn't happen. Our options were corn and crab pizza or Gouda cheese and honey. We had both and surprisingly enough the cheese and honey one was the best of the two.

Other interesting things we tasted there were sweet potato soft serve ice cream. It tasted the same way it would at home.