When you visit Japan for the first time, surely you will be taken by surprise and will not have any idea: “Which restaurant should I choose?”
It is because in the cities there are various types of restaurants and cafés. You would like to try as much as possible, but unfortunately it is almost impossible to conquer all although you live in this small island country. One of the things you cannot discard in your journey is to enjoy the gourmet.
(About photo: Sushi restaurant. Nothing can beat the authentic Japanese food!)
Talking about Japanese food, what comes on your mind first? Tempura? Sushi? Soba (Noodles)? Of course, you can find these typical and traditional things everywhere. And then I am sure that everyone would find the great difference between the authentic food and imitations outside of Japan.
(About photo: Hot crisp tempura of fresh and seasonal vegetables. Sauce is carefully made from fine seafood. Delicacy is needed for an authentic cuisine. )
Here I don’t write much about the traditional dishes further more, so come to Japan for real taste using your 5 senses fully!
What I would like to show you now is some aspects of the creativity in the Japanese food cultures and wonderful services.
The wide diversity in the food culture
Since Japan decided to open its territory to foreign trade and diplomatic relations in the middle of 19th century, our country has adopted many recipes from all over the world and developed them in many ways.
For example the Royal Navy invented their own curry which was originally from India, because they were lack of fresh milk in long voyages so they had to substitute with curry powder. Then the English style curry came into Japan and people like to eat with rice which was more familiar to Japanese than bread. As the time passed by, nowadays we can enjoy uncountable types of curry.
Also other foods have been invented and developed in a Japanese style, by mixing the oriental and occidental elements.
I will show you some examples in the spaghettis below:
Today there are more dishes arranged with Japanese specialties, such as shimeji mushroom spaghetti, Neapolitan spaghetti (Ketchup source, bacon, green pepper and sausages) and Mentaiko spaghetti (salted cod roe).
(About photo: Tarako or Mentaiko spaghetti)
Not only curry and spaghetti, our creativity never ends and keeps developing.
Anywhere and any time you go, you have many choices of casual restaurants at reasonable prices.
If you live in a country where restaurants’ opening hours are limited like from 13:00 to 15:00 and from 20:00 to 24:00, you are looking for somewhere to lunch at 16:00. You would have less choice to make your stomach full or probably have to find a hamburger stand.
In Japan you don’t generally have to worry about opening hours. Certainly some small restaurants can be closed for hours for preparation, but you can easily find other eating places opened almost all day.
Great hospitality and service
Recent years, thanks to the several review web sites, I guess the food industry cannot ignore people’s opinion and try to improve their quality.
I am proud of Japanese are very good at hospitality for customers. Here are some examples. (There may be exception)
– Water is served free. In sushi restaurants, green tea too. Some restaurants give you a hot towel to clean your hands.
– Many restaurants see to it that customers can stay comfortable in a tiny space, for example, customers can use baskets below the chairs to put their belongings, so that they doesn’t get dirty on the floor.
– If you have long hair, some Ramen (noodle) restaurants offer you a rubber band to tie your hair so that it doesn’t annoy you while eating. Also you can use a free paper apron to protect your clothes from splashing drops of soup.
– You know the language? Don’t worry. Some restaurants place show case with plastic fake food models or photos at the entrance and you can see visually what you want.
(About photo: These are fine plastic models. If you want to buy one, go to Kappabashi in Tokyo where special kitchen utensils and dining ware for restaurants are sold)
Hospitality with entertainment
Even in an eatery, you will be served correctly with smile or politeness, and rarely have uncomfortable feeling. I can say it is very normal in Japan. So the food-service industry keeps improving their service to be outstanding among others and add some value such as entertainment in service.
Now I would like to show you some interesting examples.
Kaiten Sushi restaurant
I should say Sushi-go-round in English when referring to Kaiten Sushi. Literally, a conveyor belt is placed which connects each table then the plates with Sushi can go around on it so that you can pick them up.
What’s bad about Kaiten Sushi is Sushi can get miserably dried and unsold if nobody picks it up long time. So nowadays many Sushi restaurants adopt new order system shown in the image below.
(About photo: Each dish has each color which means prices. When you check out, just call a waiter to count dishes and give you a price ticket to pay in the counter. Here green tea is served free. Hot water server is set in each table, so you just make your own tea.)
Tablets are placed in each table and you can order whatever and whenever you want tapping the display.
Soon after a train comes to you directly bringing freshly made Sushi. (See the pic below)
(About photo: Train travels all around the table on the lane for delivery)
Izakaya is like a Japanese casual bar where you can enjoy beverages with à la carte dishes. On the other day I found a cheerful restaurant which mixes both Italian and Japanese in foods, culture and style. The menu consists of mainly Italian dishes like agua pazza, pasta, pizza and etc, made with Japanese fresh seafood from Tokyo Tsukiji fish market where fishmongers are dealing business lively and cheerfully. Indeed, the waiters serve you as if you were in the fish market. It is very funny and unique time.
By the way, the restaurant’s specialty is Peperoncino spaghetti covered with huge amount of baby sardine. A waiter serves you heaping up lots of whitebait on noodles in front of you until it overflows from the dish.
“Is a tearoom just for having a cup of tea?” “No.”
If you are an animal lover, these are ideal places for you.
Cat Café, Rabbit café and dog café
There are cafés for animal lovers. Some people cannot live with pets for some reason, such as because still many rental apartments prohibit hirers from having animals in house. Some people may be simply busy with their work, or for other reasons.
(About photo: People are playing with cats at a cat café)
You can have a cup of tea with pretty animals just by your side. Also some cafés offer opportunity where foster parents can find pets to adopt, cooperating with SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
Finally, why don’t you come and visit Japan? You will experience something unforgettable you can never find in other countries. Feel the hospitality and exciting food culture!