A Tour of Food in Japan

If you’ve looked at our photo journal you know that one of the most shocking things about our trip to Japan was that there wasn’t much sushi to be found. It turns out that the U.S. version of Japanese food I love so much is just that, a U.S. version of Japanese food.

The Japanese eat sashimi but only as a side dish, most often on special occasions, not really as a meal. As I discovered, a more traditional Japanese meal includes: ramen, rice, gelatinous rice products, eggs, and pork—lots of pork—in everything. Vegetarians, beware!  Even my best-laid plans to have a tofu or egg dish always included pork somewhere.

The thing I love most about authentic Japanese food is that they strive to show you what you will be eating in advance. Outside every restaurant, from high- to low-end, is a display of plastic models showcasing the exact presentation of every item on the menu. If space for plastic outdoor presentations is short, a photo of items will be presented on the menu.

For a tourist who doesn’t speak the language, what more could you possible ask for? Our method of choosing restaurants was based solely on the displays and it wasn’t uncommon for us to simply point to the item in the window or on the menu to order.  For example, words probably wouldn’t suffice when trying to describe a  three-foot-long sausage over spaghetti. We were quite lucky to have this image to aid in our selection process.

And you might want to know if your cornflake sundae comes with a full piece of chocolate cake on top.

The only time we were able to have sushi was when we went to Rappongi Hills, an area in Tokyo created for tourists, where we dined at a place called “Sushi” from New York.

Here we were able to have the delicious rolls that we are accustomed to, but I guess it may or may not actually be considered “sushi.”

In contrast, what I found was that the more authentic the restaurant and the more beautiful the setting, the more problematic the food became for me. Not that I don’t firmly enjoy a culinary adventure, but after a few days of fish heads, odd roots, and squirmy items, I began to grow hungry and longed for more “sushi.”

We ate:

An omelet with cabbage, shrimp, and I’m sure some pork mixed in.

Salted fish

Smoked fish

Tiny fish, bones and all

More fish with scallions, roasted on a leaf, for breakfast

More breakfast, of cold fish

with roots and rice balls??… I’m actually not sure what this is

Lots of sweet black beans, in gelatinous rice goo pastes

And at the end of every meal we had 100s of  little plates from the tons of little treats beautifully wrapped in rice papers, gold flakes, and little individual dishes.

After a few days of all that rice I started to feel like I needed a Fiber Zoom. Luckily I never had a

or felt like this…

Maybe that’s because I never ate this

or these soba noodle and corn sandwiches, which would have put me over the top.