I wasn’t in Japan this time for a happy reason. However, with my brothers, family, and friends, who all love to eat as much as I do (which is saying a lot), we were obviously going to dedicate every second of free time and every bit of stomach space to finding delicious consumables. If you are ever in Tokyo or West Izu, here are some spots you should hit up:
SHIMODA & KAWAZU, JAPAN
This is my adorable great uncle, who owns a popular beachside café called Tsuboya (and his cat, who only likes him.) You should visit if you are ever in Shimoda; it is charming.At Teuchi Sobadokoro Tsukasa An (手打ちそば処 つかさ庵) in Shimoda, we had soba with a fried shrimp topping. It was shockingly delicious.
Izu has tons of national hot springs, which means they have a lot of free footbaths in parks.
My uncle treated my brother and me to a night at the fancypants Shimoda Central Hotel. The hotel gives you jammies, which everyone wanders around in all day, including to dinner at the hotel restaurant. Oh, speaking of dinner, it was endless. Let’s count the dishes, shall we, in this handy slideshow! Keep in mind that this is all ONE meal. We felt like we would never be hungry again.
You know what is delicious? Japanese milk. It is fatty and full-flavored. It’s standard to serve milk to drink after going into the hot springs baths. Sounds like a great recipe for lactose intolerance-induced upset stomach, but I was fine!
Speaking of Japanese dairy products, their soft serve is ridiculously good. It makes American soft serve taste like garbage. To the right below, we have the owner of Maruko, an old-school cafe where he’s been serving soft serve and hotcakes for 40 years. We love him.
At Kura, a tiny place where housewives cook meals out of local ingredients from the area farms:
If you go to Japan, get the menchi, katsu, and croquettes from a local butcher. They fry everything in lard:
The food tour wasn’t over yet. The night before flying out of Narita, our cousin had a line-up of restaurants and bars at the ready.
There’s a series of restaurants that start with “Oreno” (俺の), which is the masculine form of “My.” There’s an Oreno French, Oreno Spanish, Oreno Yakiniku…and we went to Oreno Yakitori. Jenne and I both eschew chain restaurants, but the thing about Japanese chains is that they can be, well, good.
Here’s the yakitori skewer menu. Everyone says Japan is expensive, but dude, when you’re used to California prices, these skewers are CHEAP.
Now, onto Yamauchi Nojo:
Next, an awesome street of tiny bars in Oimachi (which is so small, it’s not even on Google Maps street view!):
I don’t remember which bar this was on that tiny street, but our cousin treated us to Yamazaki whiskey. Jim Murray’s World Whiskey Bible named Yamazaki as the best whiskey in the world. To name a Japanese whiskey over Scotch or Irish — that is as shocking as when the California wine won the French competition.
Tsukemen at Fuuten (風天). Oh, this pork — it melted in your mouth. This order is specifically the Tokusei Noukou Tsukemen no Gyokai Soup no Atsumori (特製濃厚つけ麺の魚介スープのあつもり), or in translation, “Special strong tsukemen in fish broth, with noodles served hot.”