When friends and family heard we were going to live in Japan for 3 years I had a mixture of reactions. Most were super excited and some said they would make the trip to come visit. Then there were a few who cringed and said “Eww Raw Fish! I would starve to death in Japan!”
To the person who can’t see past the sushi, I submit this post in hopes of opening your eyes to the magical world that is Japan.
Japan is a hub, specifically Tokyo of course. So many cultures converge for business and industry here that restauranteurs have sprung up to provide an incredible array of food choices. Some have created authentic food from other countries and others have brought the Japanese spin to those foods.
1. I would be remiss if I didn’t speak of Italian first. There are a bunch of Italian or Japanese style Italian spots all over this country. I have enjoyed wonderful Bolognese and fantastic seafood pasta dishes. The spin Japan has put on Italian food is their interpretation of Pizza and Spaghetti.
Pizza tends to have mayonnaise and often very different toppings then you would expect. From seafood to corn. I have tried a few different styles and they are very interesting. Some I can do without but they have mastered the art of flavor. I may not like mayo on my pizza but I get the reason why, it oddly makes sense. If odd pizza isn’t your thing, you can easily find an American style pizza on many a menu.
The Japanese spin on spaghetti is a bit of a stretch but it is very popular here. They call it Neapolitan, the sauce is made of ketchup and not much else. This has had me chuckling for 2 years.
I will admit that I haven’t tried this yet. Being part Sicilian, it just seems wrong. I will order it before we leave.
Oh, one thing about Italian eating here, they almost always have Tabasco on the table. *shrug* I don’t get it either.
2. Our second happy find in Japan are the plentiful English, Scottish and Irish Pubs that have become incredibly popular. We do run into a lot of people with such accents so Japan is definitely a draw from that side of the world. The pubs often have good pub food and a pint of Guinness is not difficult to find here.
3. Peruvian, yes I said that. There is a fantastic Peruvian restaurant within walking distance of the base here and it is out of this world awesome! From seafood soups to beans and rice and great stir fry type dishes.
4. French Patisserie – In almost every department store in Japan there is a grocery store level and a patisserie. The French pastries are amazing and the Japanese put some unusual but often spectacular spins on them. Just want to grab a bite or a breakfast you can grab and go? Stop at a patisserie and grab some tongs.
The variety is fantastic and the prices are reasonable!
5. Filipino – Being so close to The Philippines, it’s natural there are some wonderful options in Filipino food.
6. Mexican – Ok I am a little biased on Mexican food in that I grew up in Tucson, Arizona so I will say so far the Mexican food I have found here is ok, not great but it curbs the craving enough.
7. Cajun/Creole – Again I am a little biased because I’m married to a Cajun so I have been introduced to the good stuff and often. To the untrained pallet the couple of Cajun restaurants we have found would be great and truly enjoyable.
8. American – as in, hamburgers, hotdogs, steaks, etc. Easily found here, the Japanese have mastered the hamburger and they will put just about anything on a hotdog bun, even sometimes a wiener.
9. What I will call Couture food – the upscale, classy, small portioned and well finessed bites of awesomeness. Being such a mecca has brought in some of the world’s finest chefs. We have run across some absolutely stellar food in the least likeliest of places. Small Izakaya’s (Japanese bar) will often have a menu that will put a smile on my face.
Well, there you have nine options, so I don’t want to hear that you don’t want to visit because you won’t like the food in Japan. 🙂
10. Wow, I almost closed without even mentioning the Indian Curry. Shame on me!
Truly blissful curry! We tend to visit one of the curry places in town at least a couple times every month, often more than once a week.
The Japanese have a curry as well and it’s very different but just as yummy!
I hope this post has opened your eyes a little to the wonderful cuisine of Japan. All it takes is a google search or a walkabout to find an adventure in food.
32 thoughts on “Eww Raw Fish!”
>I will admit that I haven’t tried this (Neapolitan spaghetti) yet. Being part Sicilian, it just seems wrong. I will order it before we leave.
Are you part Sicilian? My grandfather immigrated to America from Sicily. I’m 25% Sicilian.
So…do worry…I can vouch for Japanese Neapolitan spaghetti. At most places, it’s good! I saw on TV once, they asked Italian diplomats from the Italian Embassy in Tokyo to try it…and they all loved it!
>Tabasco on the table. *shrug* I don’t get it either.
Try Tabasco on tomato spaghetti and/or pizza. It’s good too!
I will try both!
P.s. yes I am almost half Sicilian.
I’m sure you know I meant “don’t worry…”
probably but I don’t see where I wrote that in the post. help!
edit: sorry I thought you said I wrote that. haha yes I know what you meant.
Sorry…I should’ve been more clear. It was a typo in my comment above.
Nah, it was me. I’m sleepy and bored at work so I didn’t read it well. haha I could honestly put my head on my desk and fall asleep.
I can’t tell you how pleased I am that my Neapolitan post made such an impression! And I’m baffled by the Tabasco, too.
Glad to hear I am not the only one!
>I’m baffled by the Tabasco
Really? It’s good! But I like spicy food!
I love spicy food too but tabasco on pasta just doesn’t make sense to me. Red pepper does, but not tabasco.
I suppose that having lived most of my life in Japan now, I’ve become more used to “Japanese taste” than American. Doesn’t seem unusual to me at all.
OK, clear a spot for me on the couch.
Tabasco sometimes makes up for a lack of taste. And as a Chicago area resident there is no way any of that sounds like pizza.
Its definitely different. But they do have American style too.
>Tabasco sometimes makes up for a lack of taste.
The spaghetti tastes good…it’s just better spicy!
>there is no way any of that sounds like pizza.
Japanese pizza is good too. You should know though, that Japanese mayonnaise is different from American. American mayo is made of egg whites, Japanese is made from the yolk. They taste different.
Japanese mayo does taste different but it is still odd on some things…to me.
I miss the crazy food in Japan. I was amazed at how they box your cream puff to go like it’s a fancy Christmas present..haha.
No kidding, everything here is packaged and presented beautifully. Long as you’re not in a rush it’s pretty awesome.
I was one of the people who said “You’re going to Japan? When can I come???” The difference between me and some of the others who asked the same? I actually went to see you. Before I left for Japan, I read up on a few of the customs, the niceties, and the ordinary course of being a polite visitor versus an American “Jerk” Tourist. I have to admit, the one faux pas was to stand on the dressing room floor with my shoes on was perhaps THE most embarrassing experience; yet, some how, I hope and wish that my stay in Japan was representative of a polite American who thoroughly enjoyed her stay, appreciated the cuisine, the customs, and the lifestyle of the Japanese people.
The food is impeccable. The freshest, most well presented, and tastiest food I have ever enjoyed was in Japan. I am no real “foodie” but I do enjoy tasty meals. I did not have ONE, not ONE, bad meal while I was there, nor did I have anything that I didn’t enjoy or like.
My stay in Japan was amazing. My host and hostess ensured my enjoyment, they elevated my spirit and they made possible one of the most memorable times of my life. I will be forever and eternally in their debt.
On a ceremonial note, I will leave you all with this lesson…it is NOT a Japanese custom to kiss the floor of a Japanese Curry establishment on your first full day in Japan. Repeat. It is NOT a Japanese custom.
I love you, Diana, for all that you have meant to me and for sharing your life so readily. You’re a true and valued member of my family.
I hope that one error was not too traumatic for you, she was dramatic in my opinion. That was my fail, I completely forgot that and I think was just so used to doing it that it escaped me.
You know we love you and are so happy you came out to visit and blessed to have given you the opportunity to mark Japan off your bucket list. 🙂
Your face plant in Coco’s was scary then funny as hell. You definitely left your mark on this country and forever in my heart.
You’d have to drag me out of that patisserie kicking and screaming. They look divine xx
They are so interesting! Not good for my diabetic self but I indulge now and then.
I wandered over here as I recognized you from both Aussa’s and Leah’s blogs, and I realized I hadn’t really looked to see what you had to say.
I suppose I am an odd combination of foodie and walking kitchen garbage disposal, because Japanese-style pizza sounds pretty good to me, plus pretty much everything else you mentioned. Although I’m mostly of Danish descent, that doesn’t affect my taste nor appetite in the slightest. Bring on the fusion. [redacted] [EDIT: something long and boring about me loving chiles and rainbow assortments of hot sauces, and always having them on hand]
Peruvian, yes I said that
Why is that a surprise to anyone? Peru has a significant minority of citizens of Japanese descent. I guess I would have to know– my youngest sister married a Peruvian guy. Here’s the clincher: he’s partly Italian, and decided to revert to the original Italian version of his family’s name (Canalessi) when he naturalized to the U.S.
Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff and comment. 🙂
I had no idea Peru had a Japanese contingent. Very interesting.
It’s nice to meet someone else who enjoys food of all kinds. Danish… I don’t know that cuisine, would that be German and Polish type foods or does Denmark have it’s own something?
Scandinavian, Diana. It’s not as celebrated, as, say, Norwegian– Danish populations assimilated a lot more in U.S. history. Kringler, ableskivers (round pancakes filled with apples or other fruit), meatloaf with shredded carrot, butter cookies (the kind that get passed around a lot at Christmas in the metal tins!) are a few I was introduced to by my mother’s side of the family, and by my wife’s family.
There is no “Sons of Denmark” like there is “Sons of Norway”, but I’ve compared notes with Scandinavian-American groups, and that’s a place to start. Wikipedia has a good article on Danish cuisine, and there is a Scandinavian cooking show on public television.
Great post! I love the patisseries here, too! All the more because I had absolutely no idea before we arrived in Tokyo that they had so many wonderful bakeries.
It was a great surprise to us too!
I think most people get the same reaction when you talk about Japan. The image of sushi is so strong in many people’s minds that they don’t understand that there is a variety of foods. In addition to the many international foods that are available, there are lots of traditional Japanese foods that don’t even involve seafood.
I have never tried Peruvian food, in Japan or elsewhere, but I’d really like to visit that restaurant you spoke of! These photos are making me quite hungry…
Very true about the variety of Japanese food. We are still finding new things to try.
The Peruvian place is really very good. If you are ever in Yokosuka, it’s called Geodana’s.
Thanks for the recommendation! Since I usually stay in Tokyo, I’ll be quite close whenever I can get there again.