Japan is famous for its delicious and unique cuisine, often topping the bill as the world’s best destination for food lovers. As a lover of fine food herself, our personal travel expert Joanne was keen to put this reputation to the test! With some incredible experiences to choose from, these are her top five recommendations.
1. DIY Teppanyaki in Tokyo
The first recommendation on our list, Joanne discovered on her very first day in Tokyo! At Sometaro you cook your own food, while sitting at low teppanyaki tables, making for a dinner that’s not only delicious but entertaining and educational too! This traditional Okonomiyaki shack is located in the Tokyo’s Asakusa district, just a five-minute walk from Joanne’s hotel, the Gate Hotel Kaminarimon.
On entering the restaurant, diners take off their shoes which are then placed in a locker and the key slotted into a small stand at your table. If it’s a rainy day, your wet umbrella will be put in a cover and placed at your table – every detail is well thought out and the staff are wonderfully organised.
Sitting at a traditional low teppanyaki table you can have a go at cooking your own Okonomiyaki, a type of Japanese pancake, with staff on hand to offer assistance. Joanne had a great time and dinner like this is extremely reasonably priced, as is common with local restaurants in Japan.
If you’re in the area make sure to check out Asakusa’s many quirky little bars, including the famous karaoke bars!
2. Michelin-star Sushi
Kyoto’s Four Seasons Hotel is located next to a temple on the outskirts of this ancient city. While you might not choose to stay here, if you’re celebrating a special occasion or just want to splash out on an incredible meal, Joanne highly recommends a trip to Sushi Wakon.
Sushi Wakon is Four Seasons, Kyoto’s Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant. Fresh fish is flown in daily from the famous Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo and its preparation is overseen by the renowned sushi master, chef Rei Masuda.
This stunning hotel has beautiful gardens with a lovely outdoor terrace and if you’d like to make a day of it, you can even book a traditional tea ceremony, which is held in a spectacular pagoda teahouse.
3. The World is your Oyster
In addition to its wonderful floating shrine and wandering deer, Miyajima is also famous for its smoked oysters. You’ll pass dozens of oyster beds on the ferry ride over from Hiroshima and there’s even a hint of their smoky, salty aroma in the air, so ubiquitous are they around the island.
Known locally as “sea milk” thanks to their high nutritious value, you’ll find little stalls and shops selling the grilled oysters (as well as lots of other unusual street food) all over Miyajima.
However, if you fancy a more leisurely meal, head up out of town to Kakiwai for fantastic views over the bay and a glass of Champagne to accompany your Miyajima oysters! If you’ve overindulged, the hike up to the top of Mount Misen will see you right (or you could always take the cable car – you are on holiday after all!).
4. Unmissable Street Food
Osaka is renowned for its bright lights and street food and the city has a real buzz. Anyone looking for an authentic Japanese foodie experience should definitely make time for Osaka in their itinerary.
If street food is what gets your heart racing on holiday, you might want to stay here for a couple of nights to really make the most of the incredible array of culinary delights on offer. However, if you’re staying in Kyoto it’s only a 25-minute train ride out to Osaka and well worth it for an evening exploring the city’s tasty treats.
Dontonbori, a street in Osaka lined with food stalls, is the place to be. Things don’t really start to kick off here until after 5pm but soon after you’ll find it heaving with locals and tourists alike, queuing for their favourite morsels and socialising over great food.
5. Conveyor-belt Cuisine
There’s a misconception that Japanese cuisine is all raw fish, which can put people off from visiting. Sushi and sashimi aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but if it’s something you enjoy, you will love the incredible quality and great value sushi on offer in Japan.
For a cheap and delicious lunch, you can’t do better than any of Japan’s conveyor-belt sushi restaurants. With a fantastic choice of dishes and high-quality fish plates from as little as £1, this is a great way to try some of Japan’s finest food without blowing the budget.
If you’re looking for amazing fresh fish and you’re short on time, Nishiki Market in Kyoto is another great option for brilliant sushi on the go!
If you’ve got any questions about a holiday in Japan, call our personal travel experts on 0191 285 9321 or make an appointment to visit us in store at a time that suits you.