In the eyes of our specialist, Andrew, Japanese food is the best in the world. Clearly this view is subjective, but we can’t say we disagree! Dishes such as sushi, sashimi, ramen, tempura and katsu have become increasingly well known outside of Japan, and the variety of cuisines available across the country is vast.
Unlocking the character of a destination through its diverse gastronomic experiences is a must for many travellers, and Japan’s consistent high-quality and culinary flair makes this a particular pleasure.
Izakaya - Possibly the greatest, cheapest, wildest, and definitely the most fun, of Japanese dining experiences. Izakaya are very small, characterful, noisy establishments; essentially small bars serving tapas-style, snack dishes. They are very casual, the food is served quickly, and you would normally order a selection of dishes to share. Yakitori skewers are probably their most well-known dish, but the menus are huge including dishes such as karaage, yakisoba, taco wasabi and tsukune. It's not unusual to find pizza or french fries on the menu too. It's fun to bar hop, and we love to arrange an evening’s adventure with a guide who’ll take you to a selection of fantastic izakaya and help you make the most of the menus as you work your way around town.
Kaiseki - The pinnacle of Japanese cuisine and an epicurean’s indulgence. This most picturesque of fine dining is unmistakable; even the presentation is stunning. Kaiseki is always a multi-course affair served on beautiful lacquerware and consisting of exceptionally delicately prepared dishes that make up an immersive dining experience. This kind of dining forms part of the ryokan experience, and usually the more expensive the accommodation, the more elaborate the meal. This form of cuisine hails from Kyoto and within the city there are a number of world famous restaurants where you can try kaiseki at its finest.
Cooking class - We don’t promote generic cooking classes, but Japanese cuisine lends itself to specific technique based workshops which will allow you to recreate some of the country’s iconic dishes at home, or at least attempt to! For those who want to delve beyond the eating, these classes are just perfect, and there are a number of high quality classes across the country. We’d recommend saving this experience for a little later in a journey, or at least until you know your yoshoku from your washoku.
Michelin dining and international cuisine - Tokyo holds the record for Michelin-starred restaurants, way above Paris and New York. A serious accolade, but not surprising. Thai, Italian, Chinese, French, and of course Japanese restaurants are amongst those celebrated with a coveted star. Some find it difficult to reconcile travelling so far and not eating Japanese food every time, but it’s worth remembering that Japan generally does food very well, wherever it originates from. It may be that you find yourself discovering the best French food you have ever tasted outside of France! Many Michelin-starred restaurants are rather exclusive, and often totemo takai desu (very expensive). Though you might not want to stretch to Michelin dining at every meal, every price bracket is catered for, with some really delicious chain restaurants selling pasta lunches for just a handful of change, and casual dining venues of every description are locked in a permanent price war.