Friday, December 17, 2010

Hungry in Tokyo?


The art of plastic food display reaches its zenith in Japan. No other country in the world has such a wide array of the most delectable plastic dishes (and not limited to Japanese food only).


Surrounded by Japanese restaurants, this window display announces an Italian pizzeria in Asakusa. Italian food has an affinity to Japanese or Asian cuisine as noodles = pasta. What differentiates them is the sauce.


At this noodle restaurant close to my hotel in Hanzomon, you need to get an order ticket from a machine with instructions in Japanese. So I took the menu and compared the Kanji characters of the combination dish I wanted for dinner with that of the machine but nothing matched. I narrowed down my choices by the price indicated on the menu but still couldn't find a match. So finally I gave up and stood by the counter until the chef was free to help me. He was very accommodating as he had seen me figure things out for a few minutes but as he had a steady stream of customers, couldn't get away immediately. Finally, after figuring out which button to press, I fed the coins necessary to pay for my meal and handed my ticket to the chef and voila!, I had a nice soba (buckwheat noodle soup), a bowl of rice and deep fried chicken a few minutes later. It was interesting to observe the chef as he made the soup. First he dipped the noodles into a hot pot to soften them and then put them in a bowl before adding flavored soup and some scallions. It was all so well orchestrated. I was mesmerized! The combination I ordered is called Mini Torikara Don and costs $9.00.


Lunch at Narita Airport prior to departure with mackerel, a bowl of rice, miso soup, cucumber salad, sweet almond jello and green tea. While it appears to be a lot of food, the portions are small enough to fill but not to feel overfed. This meal costs $12.00.


No surprises when ordering food as window displays often show the price of each dish. And how aesthetically beautiful a lot of these displays are! This one has a mask and mini folded screen.


For dessert, these cookies are some of the most coveted sweets on Sensoji Temple grounds. You can buy them fresh and warm. What's interesting is seeing how they're made in these flat, fish shaped iron griddles. Then you really want to try one but the queues are long. And the crowds on weekends just sweep you off. So you walk away empty. Next time.

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Images by Charie

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