East Meets West Meets East

My time in Tokyo.

Glorious food

So we made it, with minimal damage. And before I start to talk about the immense city of Tokyo, I need to dive straight into one of the most important aspects of life ... food.

Everyone I spoke to prior to leaving for Japan really were not joking when they said the food was incredible. To balance out the miles and miles of walking we did, we managed to scoff enough food to edge us towards sumo-weight.

And as much as everyone raves about the sushi, with the larger ratio of fish to rice, as it should be and not a ball of rice with a snippet of fish on top (learn from this Yo Sushi!), we've really indulged in everything else Tokyo has to offer. My two highlights so far have to have been the Takoyaki and the Okonomiyaki.

Takoyaki is your late night cheesy chips, your 5am kebab and your dominoes takeaway order. Or in my case, breakfast, lunch and dinner. There was many a jolly whiskey drinker in the typical cosy restaurant at the Roppongi crossing, and the smell was enough to feed me with one sniff. We watched mesmerised by the the chef wielding the two chopstick-like prongs as he spun these mysterious balls over a special hot plate. First the batter went in, then the chopped up tako (octopus), green onion, some tenkasu (tempura scraps) and finally some katsuobushi (dried bonito). And quicker than you can say dumpling he was spinning away. They were served steaming hot with a sprinkle of green laver (gonori) and shavings of katsuobushi.

Just when I thought my belly couldn't be happier, we fell into a side street and walked into a restaurant that specialised in Okonomiyaki. After the usual awkward English-Japanese lost-in-translation exchange, we ordered the special. We had no idea what it was, but we were sat right in front of the chefs as they expertly chopped, whisked, poured and flipped what can only be described as large omelettes.

It's known as a savoury pancake, and can have a variety of ingredients in it, hence 'okono' meaning 'what you like'. The whole recipe tends to vary based on region, in our case there was pork involved in the layers of egg, yam and various other ingredients.

There is plenty more to come, so save the drool for later.

Maxine Cheyney