I realized as I was writing my trip recap of our time in Japan that I had wayyy too much to talk about for one post. I wanted to share all the sights we saw and places we went, but also wanted to write about all the amazing food we ate (SO MUCH RAMEN)!
So I decided to break it up and share this post today all about what we ate in Tokyo and Kyoto because honestly, the food scene in Japan is enough of a reason to go! And at the end I’m sharing some random things I noticed while in Japan.
Yea, I’m starting with dessert what did you expect? I have one word for the dessert situation in Tokyo: Cremia. This heavenly tasting soft serve ice cream is unlike anything I’d tasted before. It’s creamier and more pure tasting than normal soft serve. The birthplace of Cremia is Dolci Cafe Silkream near Shibuya Crossing, but you can find the sweet treat all over the city. I had it at Silkream, but also from a cafe and from a street vendor and all three times were amazing. The original flavor which tastes super milky was my fave.
As I mentioned in my trip recap, Harajuku was one of my favorite stops during our time in Tokyo. And part of the reason for that was the food here! The capital of kawaii (cutesy) culture is full of fun and unique treats. My favorite was the rainbow colored cotton candy from Totti Candy Factory. I saw people walking around with these massive cotton candy sticks and of course had to try it out;) You can actually taste the different flavors in the colors which surprised me. I tried frozen popcorn from Sweet XO Good Grief as well, but wasn’t as into that.
A random Japanese treat I loved were creme-filled cakes from Tokyo Banana. You could buy these at convenience stores, outdoor markets and conveniently, at the airport. Crepes are also big here along with Dorayaki, which is two pancakes sandwiched together with red bean paste and Dango which is a sweet chewy rice dumpling normally topped with fruit.
Oh man, the ramen. I miss it already. Ramen is as common in Tokyo as McDonald’s or Starbucks in the U.S. (Though they have those too!) There’s seriously a ramen restaurant on every block and each one I went to was incredible. Most of the places we went were typical ramen restaurants where you order at a vending machine (cash only) and then sit at a long counter or communal table and wait for the bowl of perfection to arrive. My first ramen experience was at Ichiran where you sit at little booths by yourself and a server slides open a window in front of you to deliver the ramen. And many ramen places have a button you can press to request more noodles! Amazing, even though I generally want more broth, not more noods.
On our day trip to Kyoto we ate ramen at Ippudo, which is a famous ramen restaurant that also exists in NYC. We sat at a big square table with a bunch of other people and it was soo good. This place was a slightly more expensive than typical ramen (which was about $7,) but still not too pricey.
Of course the sushi is incredible in Tokyo. We had it the night I arrived at a random spot near our hotel and even a strip mall type restaurant had super fresh fish. My favorite experience was at Sushi Zanmai. This restaurant has several locations inside a famous fish market in Tokyo and after finding a massive line at the main restaurant we kept wandering only to find the same restaurant with barely any wait just a few doors down. The one we went to was “conveyor belt sushi” rather than a formal dining experience, but it was perfect! The sushi rolled by on little plates- and the prices were determined by the type of plate it was on. I ate the tuna and spicy tuna rolls of my dreams here.
- Food Markets
Food markets are popular in Japan and we managed to make it to some of the biggest ones during our trip. We ate a great dinner at Ebisu Yokocho on Friday night. This is an indoor alleyway filled with little restaurants/bars. We hopped around to a few and enjoyed meat on a stick, dumplings and more. This place was packed with locals and many people didn’t speak any English, but we managed by pointing at menu items and it was super.
On Saturday we went to Tsujiki fish market which was one of our favorite stops of the trip. This place has so much to take in and the freshest fish and random treats aisle after aisle. There were booths dishing out sushi, crab legs, massive chunks of tuna and more. We wandered around for about an hour and easily could have spent more time here. This is where we had our sushi lunch at the conveyor belt place, but we also had crab legs and a strawberry dessert thing.
On Monday we went to Nakamise which is a popular shopping street with lots of food vendors right by the Senso Ji temple. I grabbed my last cremia of the trip here:)
TIPS / RANDOM THINGS I NOTICED
- There are two main ways to get around Tokyo- the metro trains and the JR trains. The metro trains are distinctly harder to figure out than the JR, but people were so darn nice and on multiple occasions workers or even random commuters helped us out.
- The trains are ALWAYS on time. Like to the second.
- Most places don’t accept credit card, so you have to use yen and much of it comes in coin form. So you will have a pocket or purse full of coins at all times.
- People are super courteous. Everyone follows basic rules of conduct like standing on the left side of the elevator and walking on the right side of it. Or if there are arrows indicating to go up stairs on one side or a rail and down on the other- very few people break that rule. Which makes me wonder how Japanese people visiting New York deal.
- Many restrooms don’t have air dryers or paper towels so I was using toilet paper or shaking ’em dry.
- The toilet seat (even in places like the metro or airport) are heated. Game changer when its cold out. Many also have bidets.
- People don’t eat on public transit. We did once because we were starving.
- So many people wear surgical face masks on the streets and on trains to hide from germs.
- A basic conversion rule of thumb that helped me was to just get rid of the last two digits on the yen number when converting to dollars. So 100 yen would be about $1 or 1000 yen is about $10. This helped me quickly figure out how much I was paying for a latte or a cremia since foreign currency is basically Monopoly money to me.
And now I leave you with these funny Japanese toilet signs. Idk what a “light” flush is.