Tokyo is known to be a bucket-list destination for many foodies, and it’s easy to understand why. The city is home to a number of rich culinary traditions – ones that have taken the world by storm, like sushi, along with locally-loved dishes and treats – and you should absolutely try to enjoy as many of them as you can while you’re in town. It also helps that they’re also all so very photogenic. As someone who was on a diet before I booked my trip, I knew that my diet was going out of the window, but one week wouldn’t hurt, right?
But let’s be realistic. Whether you’re in Tokyo for two days or two weeks, you can’t try everything. Instead, it’s smart to put a few must-try items on your list to enjoy while you’re in town. And if you aren’t sure what those must-eat items should be, I’ve got you covered. Here are some foods you can’t leave Tokyo without trying at least once:
It may seem obvious, but you absolutely must eat sushi at least once while you’re in Tokyo. Japan is the birthplace of sushi, and with such easy access to so much fresh seafood, it’s easy to see why locals and tourists alike hold the dish in such high esteem.
As for where you get your sushi, you have lots of options. If you’re feeling fancy, you can easily splurge on the most exquisite sushi dinner of your life at one of Tokyo’s many Michelin-starred restaurants. Don’t want to blow your budget on sushi? You don’t have to. Swing by the Tsukiji Fish Market and sample a roll from a local vendor, or take your chance on a local hole-in-the-wall with a good crowd. Chances are, folks are there for a reason!
Love noodles? You’re in the right spot. Tokyo is home to plenty of great places to slurp down a bowl, and you’ll find several local dishes that feature noodles in fun – and delicious – ways. For a twist on ramen, indulge in a bowl of tsukemen. Order this local favorite, and you’ll be given two bowls – one full of flavorful broth, and another filled with noodles. Don’t pour the broth into the noodles! Instead, dip your noodles into the broth and slurp ’em up.
Something From a Convenience Store
Convenience stores are a great example of the difference in cultures between Tokyo and any city you’ll find in America. While you’ll find snacks and quick bites in both, most people I know wouldn’t be brave enough to order much more than a fountain drink from a convenience store back home – definitely not the sausage that’s been rolling around under the heater for hours.
In Tokyo, however, convenience stores are considered an excellent choice when you’re looking for a snack to hold you over between meals. You can browse aisles of perfectly-sorted bags of chips, crackers, cookies, and other treats, but the real star of the show? The prepared food section. There, you can find everything from healthy bento boxes, rice balls, and Japanese-inspired dishes to snacks from all around the world, like french fries, hot dogs, and croquettes. Don’t leave Tokyo without trying at least one of these treats!
Need to satisfy your sweet tooth? Stop by a kakigori shop and indulge in a bowl of delicious shaved ice. It’s not just any shaved ice, of course – it’s flavored with sweet toppings, like sugary fruit-flavored syrups or condensed milk, and it’s absolutely divine. While these used to be hard to find during the colder months, their recent popularity has made them a year-round treat you can’t leave Tokyo without trying at least once!
While there are plenty of other great treats and dishes to try in Tokyo, these are some of my favorites. Add these to your Tokyo to-do list, and you’ll have your culinary bases covered.
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