After weeks of eating nothing but rice, rice, ramen and rice, I started craving western styled food. Being an Aussie girl raised on a meat & three veg diet I began to miss the comfort of home cooked familiar foods. Now don’t let me mislead you- I LOVE Japanese food. LOVE! And travelled there mainly for the foods, but somedays a girl just craves a greasy burger! Luckily there is a huge industry for cuisines other than Japanese. When families in Japan go out for a meal (for a special occassion) they will almost always visit a foreign cuisine restaurant. Therefore you will notice many styles of cuisine popping up in Japan including Italian, Indian, Chinese, Korean, Hawaiian, just to name a few.
During my time in Japan I did eat a range of non-Japanese food, and found them to be delicious but they tend to cater for the Japanese palatte. For example many Italian pasta dishes are far more sweeter than one would expect them to be.
Here are a few suggestions of non-Japanese cuisines to try whilst in Japan.
I came across a Italian wine bar named Marugo in the back streets of Shinjuku and it became a regular haunt for me whilst in Tokyo. This dimly light bar served italian meals of pasta and pizza, as well as a delightful range of antipasto vegetables, meats and olives. Their pizzas were substantial and made from quality ingredients. The wine range was extensive and buy-the-glass purchases were well catered for. There were wines available from countries such as Australia, USA, Chile, Spain and China. As a solo female traveller it’s a luxury to find a place you can go, sit at the bar and enjoy a delicious meal, a glass of wine and spend an evening reading a book without anyone fussing over or annoying you. I loved this place!
I discovered whilst travelling that most hotels (I’m not saying all but a considerable amount) provide a truly overpriced and average breakfast selection. Most of the time I would try the breakfast buffet once, and then spend the rest of my mornings searching for the best coffee shops and french patisseries. The Japanese are obsessed with the French, and vice versa. Some of the best Japanese food I’ve had was in France! There are many local french styled patisseries that serve coffees, sandwiches, cakes, pastries and beautiful handcrafted breads. A personal favourite of mine was Dominique Daibron where I throughly enjoyed their chocolate croissant or there three desert option (mini macarons, creme brûlée and cheesecake). Other places to find the best patisseries were in the basements of shopping centres, especially Isetan which I visited regularly.
I must openly admit that I’m a coffee snob, and that the search for a quality brew was difficult until a friend suggested ‘beanhunter.com’ which located the best coffees in the local area. It saved me a lot of time and many bad cups of coffee. Although Japan is one of the largest consumers worldwide of coffee, the swanky (what I call hipster) barista coffee trend is just starting to grow. You’ll find coffee chains like Starbucks in most suburbs, but there are now small local coffee shops popping up in the backstreets. These are meeting places for coffee fans, or those wanting to debate out philosophy, religion or politics.
Aussie style breakfast
Breakfast in my opinion is the most important meal of the day, and back home in Australia it is my favourite meal to go out for. After weeks on the road in Japan I missed an Aussie styled cooked breakfast of perfectly poached eggs with delicious sides. Luckily I stumbled across Bills in Yokohama. The Australian chef Bill Granger has opened a chain of restaurants across Japan. There are two in Tokyo (I visited the Omotosando branch), in Shichirigahama in Kanagawa, and one in Yokohama. Bills is famous for its berry pancakes but the corn fritters served on a bed of roquette and topped with smashed avocado, cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs caught my eye. I enjoyed it with a side of crispy bacon and grilled mushrooms. It was heaven! His restaurants are very popular and you will often have to wait for a seat, however the food is worth it. To top it off they also serve excellent coffee.
I can’t resist a cold ice-cream on a warm Tokyo summers day. Baskin Robbins, an well known international chain are a regular site in Japan. They serve a vast range of delicious flavours. I was hooked!
There was one particular night where I was desperate for a large greasy hamburger. After searching the web I decided on ‘Freshness burger’ in Shinjuku. They have a range of hamburgers, cheeseburgers and a range of US style sides. I enjoyed the cheeseburger, which I was pleased to find was freshly cooked and assembled. It featured soft toasted buns, a good sized grilled beef patty, gooey cheese, thickly sliced tomato, crisp lettuce and thinly sliced onion. The burger had no sauce, but there was a sauce station with various ketchup and chilli sauces so you could pimp it to your own taste. The burger was delicious and well priced.
I hope these will tempt your taste buds the next time you are in Japan and are craving a Western styled meal.
Be safe. Be smart. Be good x