Category Archives: Japan: Eating and Drinking

Eating and Drinking in Japan

The Definitive Guide to Breakfast in Tokyo

Lauderdale's Souffle - it is a must - nothing else like it in Tokyo
Lauderdale’s Souffle – it is a must – nothing else like it in Tokyo
Despite being a city that prides itself in being a gourmand’s heaven, for some reason Tokyo is quite an underperformer when it comes to breakfast options. Now don’t get me wrong, if you are looking for a quick and healthy bite on your way to work for less than 500 yen then there are a plentitude of options. I have certainly been known to stop by Dotour or even the odd Kissaten (喫茶店, old school Japanese coffee house) but how many places can you tell me that offer a decent sit-down breakfast that you would feel comfortable taking your beloved girlfriend, better-half or even the kids?

My wife and I love any excuse to get out of the house early, and on a special occasion we will often eat out for breakfast. If you’ve ever tried to Google “Tokyo breakfast” or “Tokyo brunch” then you will sympathize with my plight. Continue reading The Definitive Guide to Breakfast in Tokyo

Eat more salt! Are you getting enough while in Japan?

Salt - Are you getting enough?
Salt - Are you getting enough?
Who was it that made salt the scapegoat in the worlds rush to explain the cause of high blood-pressure? Sure scientists have proven that cholesterol is bad, but where is the definitive research proving that salt is the culprit? The reality is that we, as a species, have increased the incidence of a plethora of other health worries after we starting playing games with the mineral balance in our salt intake. We – especially those of us on a Japanese diet – should be going out of our way to take more salt and definitely should ignore the MLHW’s advice to keep our salt intake below 9g/day.
Think that sounds a little controversial? Not according to Yoshiaki Murakami (村上譲顕) who has spent his entire adult life researching the health benefits of salt and swears by Continue reading Eat more salt! Are you getting enough while in Japan?

The Quest for Japan’s Best Hamburger: Part 5 – Yokoji Hamburger Utsubo Koen

Mince Cutlet Burger - Yokoji Hamburger Utsubo Koen
Mince Cutlet Burger - Yokoji Hamburger Utsubo Koen
Tasty hamburger joints in Japan are quite elusive. As anybody who has made the mistake of typing in the word “hamburger” and their local address into a google map search will vouch (yes, all you get are a bunch of McDonalds), there doesn’t seem to be a particularly easy way to find them. I’ve found that the only way of finding a tasty hamburger joint is by finding a reliable hamburger connoisseur. While my repertoire is still growing, I’ve found that a quick explanation of my culinary heaven at Awajishima Burger (if you haven’t yet, you can read about it here is enough to get any hamburger addict talking. And so it was, while speaking to a fellow Hamburgerer, that I bribed my way into discovering Yokoji Hamburger.

Even Osaka, despite its size, doesn’t have a very large selection of authentic burger joints. As my local informant was reluctant to give up too many details, I was quite keen to check out Yokoji for myself and see how it measured up to Awajishima and the other burger joints in our series so far (#2, #3, #4).

Continue reading The Quest for Japan’s Best Hamburger: Part 5 – Yokoji Hamburger Utsubo Koen

The Quest for Japan’s Best Hamburger: Part 4 – Pocke Farm

Locomoco Burger at Pocke Farm in Okinawa
Locomoco Burger at Pocke Farm in Okinawa - Not as nice looking as the one on the menu but the wholemeal buns made up for it
Unless you get claustrophobic, the highlight of any trip to Okinawa has got to be visiting the Churaumi Aquarium (美ら海水族館). How many places in the world are there where you can see two huge whale sharks swimming gracefully in front of you? And what about the manta rays, sting rays, shovel-nose rays and eagle rays that escort them? Or the evil looking schools of giant trevally that would probably taste alright on a hibachi? Every time I visit Okinawa I have to visit there. If my family would let me, I could sit for hours in front of that huge twenty metre wide window gazing into the Kuroshio Sea (黒潮の海). It almost feels like you’re watching a larger than life Sharp Aquos television.

Unfortunately, it is a long drive up to Churaumi and there isn’t a lot to do along the way. When I was visiting there last we decided to stop by the “American Village” in Chatan (北谷) to break up the trip. It’s just to the south of Camp Foster (キャンプ瑞慶覧) and Camp Lester (キャンプ桑江). Continue reading The Quest for Japan’s Best Hamburger: Part 4 – Pocke Farm

The Quest for Japan’s Best Hamburger: Part 3 – T’s★Diner

Ts Diner Slow Food SignContrary to popular belief, I believe the best hamburgers are definitely a slow food. Just because McDonald’s made hamburgers into the archetypal fast food, it doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice the concept of a real high quality burger. While it’s rare to find a burger joint that is willing to keep their customers waiting 15 minutes or more after ordering, T’s★Diner (T’s Star Diner) is and is proud of it.

Continue reading The Quest for Japan’s Best Hamburger: Part 3 – T’s★Diner

The Quest for Japan’s Best Hamburger: Part 2 – Okinawa Jef

Okinawa: The JEF Goya Burger
Okinawa: The JEF Goya Burger - How many stippies did it score?
This is part two of our series on Japan’s best burger. Here, you can see the first article, and the “stippy” rating system we use to tell you whether you need to get one of these burgers into you, or whether you should avoid them like a drunk oyaji on the shuden (last train).

Review #2 – Jef Burger, Okinawa:
For some reason whenever I visit Okinawa I find myself expecting to land in a mini-America and see American signs, restaurants, customs, etc all over the place. Then I arrive and remember that the locals have done a pretty good job since 1972 of reversing the American influence gained (if any) during the 27 years of occupation. Naha isn’t really that different from most other marginalized regional cities in Japan. I personally don’t find the beaches there to be all that attractive, so besides visiting the Aquarium, there is only one thing left to do: eat! And If there was one part of American culture that must still be alive and well, I figured it had to be the hamburger. Continue reading The Quest for Japan’s Best Hamburger: Part 2 – Okinawa Jef

The Quest for Japan’s Best Hamburger: Part 1 – Awajishima!?

Awajishima Burger: The Best Burger in Japan
Awajishima Burger: Possibly the best in Japan

Update: We like hamburgers so much, that we are going to turn this article into a multi-part series called, “The Quest for Japan’s Best Hamburger”.

We will rank some of Japan’s less known, but more tasty (or not!) burger joints. We will rate each one using the following simple system. How good the burger is earns it between zero and three “stippies” as follows:

  • 0 stippies: We’ll never go back to these places, and we’ll let you know why you should avoid them.
  • 1 stippy: A hearty feast but nothing to write home about. You’d choose it over most other restaurants in the area but wouldn’t go out of your way to visit the area just to have a hamburger here.
  • 2 stippies: you can tell that the owner has spent time considering the balance of his hamburgers. Ingredients are procured directly from farms and other small scale suppliers who care about the taste of their product.
  • 3 stippies: ecstasy. You can’t get a 3 stippy ranking without at least one tear of joy being shed by the author.

Review # 1 – Awajishima Burger, Hyogo:
I don’t take my burgers lightly. As a big fan of hardcore burgers and an unforgiving critic of cheap imitations, I am on a seemingly endless search for Japan’s perfect burger for more than a decade. While I’m always hesitant to claim that I have found the Emperor of all burgers (because then I wouldn’t have an excuse to go out eating burgers every weekend!!), I think I have come pretty damn close.

Awajishima Burger SignMy chance discovery was on the way home from Shikoku the other day. As we were driving over the whirlpools of Naruto (鳴門の渦潮) the road sign to Awajishima (淡路島) triggered a memory Continue reading The Quest for Japan’s Best Hamburger: Part 1 – Awajishima!?

It’s Shooting Season on Japanese Dinner Tables

This is what a bamboo shoot really looks before it gets cookedTo make the most of the good weather that we’re enjoying this Spring, my family and I decided to tip toe amongst the Tulips that are in blossom at the moment at Expo Park (万博公園, banpaku koen). As we were walking around the Western side of the park, we decided to take a few photos outside the chikurin (竹林, bamboo forest). It was then that for the first time, I noticed a couple of Takenoko (たけのこ, baby bamboo shoots) sneaking up through the floor of the forest. Sure, I’ve seen fully grown bamboo trees many times and I’ve even enjoyed some noodles washed down the inner side of a bamboo trunk (流しそうめん, nagashisomen) before, but for some reason, I guess I’ve never walked by a bamboo forest in the Spring before. Being a big fan of bamboo shoots on the dinner table, I joked to my wife that we should sneak into the chikurin and take a few home. As you can guess, the idea didn’t get very much air time.

You’ll appreciate my surprise when I discovered Continue reading It’s Shooting Season on Japanese Dinner Tables

Who’s your Daddy? – a love call from Shikoku

closeupAfter eating what was potentially the worst cream puff of my life this afternoon at the local Willie Winki, I was motivated to write an article on Beard Papa. Having been relocated to the arse-end of Shikoku for the past month, I think you can safely assume that I’m missing a bunch of the things that Black is missing. To be sure, Beard Papa is definitely one of them.

As far as I’m concerned, Beard Papa is the crème de la crème of “choux a la crème” (シュークリーム). I’ve got not idea why the Japanese call cream puffs by a name that sounds like that black stuff I use to polish my shoes Continue reading Who’s your Daddy? – a love call from Shikoku

Japanese Vending Machines: Not disappearing just hiding away

Vending Machines Visitors to Japan are quick to note the polite and friendly customer service offered up by the retail store staff. But in addition to the Japanese human shopkeepers, commerce in Japan is supported by the host of mechanical vendors one can find on the corner of almost any block. As anyone who has walked about Japan can attest there are a plethora of vending machines dispensing all manner of goods. It is most likely possible for one to subsist solely on vending machine goods. Continue reading Japanese Vending Machines: Not disappearing just hiding away