As most of you know by now I will be leaving soon for my trip to Taiwan and Japan. I have been to Taiwan many times and I am excited to return. Although I must say that I am extremely excited about my visit to Japan. I have never been to Japan, but have done much research into various parts of Japan's history concerning male/ female relations, homosexuality and its treatment, and Japan's relations with the rest of Asia, especially concerning Taiwan. Besides loving Japanese food, Anime and segments of its technology, I am very excited to actually experience how the Japanese live and interact today. Since I have a very limited amount of time in one the biggest and busiest cities in the world, Tokyo, I am doing as much research as possible to fit in as much as possible. While I will be making postings from my trip, I figured I'de share some info, with some of you as to what I do not know, but will soon find out. Of course those that know me will find it no surprise that I am starting off with food. This plethora of information is from a handy website called japan-guide.com.
A large number of restaurant types can be found in Japan. Below is an attempt to introduce some of the most popular restaurant types in categorized form:
Specialized Japanese Restaurants
Many restaurants in Japan specialize in just one type of food.
Sushi-ya are restaurants which specialize in sushi. In most sushi-ya, customers can sit either at a normal table or at a counter (sushi bar), behind which the sushi chef is working.
Kaiten-zushi are sushi restaurants, where the sushi dishes are presented to the customers on a conveyor belt. Customers can then freely pick the dishes that they like or order dishes which are not available on the belt. In the end, the number of plates is counted to determine the cost. There are usually a few kinds of plates (differing in color or pattern), each being associated with a certain price. Kaiten-zushi tend to be less expensive than usual sushi-ya.
Soba-ya specialize in soba and udon noodle dishes. Most noodle dishes come either cooled with a dipping sauce or hot in a soup with different toppings. The menu often changes slightly with the seasons, with hiyashi (cold) noodles popular in summer and nabeyaki udon popular in winter.
Ramen-ya specialize in ramen dishes, Chinese style noodles served in a soup with various toppings. Every ramen-ya has developed its own soup, the most crucial ingredient for a restaurant's success. Several other dishes of Chinese origin, such as gyoza and fried rice, are usually also available at a ramen-ya.
Kare-ya are restaurants that specialize in curry rice (kareraisu) dishes. There is usually at least one kare-ya inside or around any major railway station.
Tonkatsu-ya serve tonkatsu, deep fried breaded pork cutlets. Korokke and other deep fried dishes are also available at many tonkatsu-ya.
Gyudon-ya specialize in gyudon (beef domburi). Gyudon-ya tend to be inexpensive fast food style restaurants.
Okonomiyaki-ya specialize in okonomiyaki and sometimes monjayaki. Customers are usually preparing their okonomiyaki by themselves on a hot plate which is built into the table.
Yakitori-ya specialize in yakitori, grilled chicken skewers. They are particularly popular among salarymen after work.
Tempura-ya specialize in tempura dishes, such as tendon (tempura domburi) and assorted tempura.
Unagi-ya specialize in unagi (fresh water eel) dishes such as unajuu and unadon (unagi domburi).
Sukiyaki-ya specialize in sukiyaki and shabu-shabu. They tend to be expensive and are not very numerous.
The following are some restaurant types that offer a broader range of dishes than specialized stores.
Izakaya are drinking places that offer a variety of small dishes, such as robata (grilled food), salads and finger food. It is probably the most popular restaurant type among the Japanese people. Izakaya tend to be informal, and the people at one table usually share all dishes, rather than ordering and eating individually.
* Family Restaurant and Shokudo
Family restaurants (famiresu) offer a variety of Western, Chinese and Japanese dishes in order to please all family members. Shokudo also offer a variety of dishes, however, the term is not commonly used anymore, and the difference to family restaurants is small.
Teishoku-ya are restaurants that sell teishoku (set menus). A set menu usually consists of a main dish such as a fried fish, a bowl of cooked rice and small side dishes. Teishoku-ya are especially numerous in business areas and popular during lunch time.
Many restaurants in Japan specialize in a foreign cuisine. Especially Korean, Chinese and Italian cooking, as well as American style fast food enjoys a great popularity among the Japanese.
Yakiniku-ya specialize in Korean style barbecue, where small pieces of meat are broiled on a grill at the table. Other popular Korean dishes such as bibimba are usually also available at a yakiniku-ya.
* Chinese Restaurants
There are very many Chinese restaurants in Japan. Many of them serve slightly Japanized Chinese dishes, while others offer authentic Chinese food.
* Italian Restaurants
The Italian cuisine is very popular across Japan. Many Italian restaurants have Japanese flavored pasta dishes on their menus besides conventional dishes.
* Hamburger Fast Food
There are many hamburger fast food restaurants across Japan. They include major American chain stores such as McDonald's, but also various Japanese chain stores such as Mos Burger and Lotteria.
Yoshoku-ya specialize in yoshoku ryori (Western Food). The dishes served at yoshoku-ya are heavily Japanized Western dishes, such as omuraisu and hayashiraisu.
* Ethnic Cuisine
In Japan, ethnic cuisine means South East Asian food, such as Thai, Indonesian and Vietnamese food.
I will be giving a catalog of my eats from street vendors (good food and cheap) to nice restaurants. Yes, I will try anything while I am there, well except the walrus penis thing I saw Anthony Bourdain eat on his show "No Reservations".
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