Dreaming of Japanese Food
Written by Sophie, March 2021
One of the things I miss most about travelling is the food. Living in London we’re lucky to have access to the cuisines of so many different countries and cultures, but it’s never quite the same as eating it in its ‘natural environment’. I can’t help but find myself looking through the photos on my phone and reminiscing about some of the dishes I ate in Japan.
What surprised me was that restaurants in Japan tend to specialise in one type of food. For example, soba, or yakitori. It’s pretty unlikely that you’ll be able to enjoy ramen and sushi at the same time, and if you do then it’s unlikely that either will be terribly good. Now that
I think about it, it makes perfect sense – sushi chefs train for years to be able to prepare sushi, so it stands to reason that they didn’t have time to master another style of food at the same time. You also know that what you’re going to eat will be delicious as it’s the chef’s speciality!
Another thing that took me by surprise was that people queue for restaurants. Now I know that this is hardly unique to Japan (after all we do love an orderly queue in the UK), but it was interesting how commonplace it was for good restaurants to have queues of up to an hour or more. We only queued once or twice (I had to know whether the food was worth it or not!), and not only was the sushi we ate delicious, the wait for it (luckily only about 20-30 minutes) really made me appreciated it that much more.
I ate a lot, and very well in Japan, from sushi and sashimi to soba and udon. Whilst I had a limited budget, I found that you could still get really good food for not too much money (lunch at restaurants is usually much cheaper than dinner!). Japanese konbini food is also pretty good – I cannot tell you how many onigiri I had whilst in Japan. In fact, I had so many – and liked them so much – that I make my own onigiri for lunch sometimes. My local Thai supermarket has Japanese pickled plums, and even though I know that pickled plums are as divisive as marmite, I absolutely love them.
I really can’t wait for the world to open up again so we can travel. Until I can make some more, I’ll have to be content with my memories of Japan!
What are some Japanese foods that you think everyone should try?