The flavour of Tokyo is found on the streets. It’s in the stalls lining the festivals, at the conveyor-belt sushi spots and the multitude of izakaya restaurants alive with chatter every night. Everyone has their favourite go-to spot.
Yaki (焼, yaku) or “fried” is a word you’ll hear a lot in Tokyo. One of Tokyo’s most popular native foods is monja-yaki. It’s not the prettiest: it involves combining our and seafood ingredients on a hot skillet to form something lumpy, yet delicious. But making monja-yaki is fun! You typically make it yourself, choosing from ingredients like pork, squid, shrimp and vegetables, and competing with friends to see who can make the tastiest creation.
Ningyo-yaki comes from the Japanese word for “doll,” but before you get carried away imagining fried Barbies, ningyo-yaki are actually sweet snack cakes in the shape of characters. Traditionally they are made in the shape of ancient gods, but more recently they have also taken the form of popular children’s characters. They’re often filled with anko, or sweet red bean paste, another Tokyo favourite.
Sukiyaki is a Japanese hot pot featuring meat and vegetables simmered in a light broth. It’s another communal dish, often found at izakaya restaurants. Waiting for the ingredients to finish cooking is the perfect opportunity to drink and engage in conversation.
And every street corner in Tokyo seems to have some variety of izakaya, which are restaurants that serve alcohol and shareable Japanese tapas. The variety of food is what makes izakaya so appealing. From sushi to yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) and takoyaki (fried octopus balls), you can try a little of everything.
At kaiten-zushi (conveyor-belt) restaurants, diners sit around a big, circular conveyor belt and choose plates of sushi as they pass by. The colours of the plates indicate the various prices of the sushi. There are even high-tech spots where you can order on a tablet and have the sushi come whizzing right to your seat on a motorized track. And here, inexpensive sushi doesn’t mean “cheap” sushi. The best places have lines out the door.
Food equals fun in Tokyo!
Official Tokyo Travel Guide: gotokyo.org
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