I can’t say enough good things about our trip to Japan. Except for one glaring error, we did not make it to the race. Our trip was planned with 8 people and there was no way to see what we wanted to see, work with everyone’s schedules, and go to see the race.
So, I treated it like a research mission and ate everything I could fit in. Supposedly so that I could learn about Japanese cuisine and make this deliciousness for future races... in reality because everything was so so so delicious and I just couldn’t help myself.
Some of our favorites included Yakitori Alley and all its grilled goodness, Shin Udon in Tokyo where you can watch the chefs hand make the udon noodles which are silky and rich and the broth is bright and beautiful, Afuri Ramen’s yuzu broth and grilled chashu which was to die for, and of course fresh perfectly prepared sushi.
We also partook in our fair share of sweets. Desserts in restaurants are not all that common, but desserts in street stalls, for breakfast, in train stations, at 7/11, and anywhere else you might find yourself are ubiquitous. We tried soft serve in a multitude of flavors such as matcha, black sesame, yuzu, pear, and crystallized sweet potato. We had the fluffiest pancakes known to mankind… twice. Our travel companion was on a mission to try every possible egg tart in the Tokyo/ Kyoto/ Osaka area, hunting down Pablo and Bake at every train station and town we visited. (Bake was the resounding winner.) Coffee culture also has a strong foothold in the big cities and we had some stellar lattes. Our favorite being Turret Coffee.
As usual, being in new cities, we also set out on a mission to try every craft beer we could find. We thought this would be pretty limited given Japan’s propensity for lagers, but we were delightfully surprised by the burgeoning craft beer scene.