When it comes to finding a good meal in Japan, the language barriers and unfamiliar ingredients can make it a challenging task for many travelers. While adventurous eaters may be willing to dive in and try anything, others struggle with not knowing what they’re actually eating. In Tokyo alone, there are over 60,000 restaurants, making it overwhelming to choose the right spots that are worth your time and money. That’s where our Secret Food Tour Tokyo comes in, created with the help of local food enthusiasts who are passionate about offering a unique experience to travelers, it’s the ultimate foodie journey in the capital of Japan!
In this blog post, we are going to explore the traditions and history behind the meals that compose our Secret Food Tour in Tokyo. By joining us on this culinary adventure and sampling the best traditional food Tokyo has to offer, you will understand why exploring the city with Secret Food Tours is an absolute must!
1st Bite: Japanese Sushi, we must respect traditions!
Japanese sushi is an iconic dish that has gained international acclaim. What sets it apart and makes it so special? It’s all about the attention to detail and the quality of ingredients. Sushi chefs in Japan dedicate years to perfecting their craft, focusing on the art of rice preparation, the selection of fresh and seasonal fish, and the precise techniques used in sushi-making. When indulging in sushi during our Japan food tour, you can expect a culinary journey that showcases the essence of this beloved dish.
To ensure you’re enjoying top-notch sushi, pay attention to the quality of the fish. That’s something we were extremely careful about while selecting the sushi venue for our Secret Food Tour Tokyo. While you can find sushi in many places in Japan, choosing the right place was our priority when curating our Asian food tour experience. When our guests indulge in sushi, we encourage them to look for vibrant colors, a fresh scent from the ocean, and a firm texture. The rice should be perfectly seasoned, striking a balance of sweetness and acidity. Whether you choose to eat sushi with your hands or chopsticks, lightly dip the fish-side into soy sauce. Remember to savor each bite, appreciating the harmonious blend of flavors and textures that make Japanese sushi an iconic culinary delight.
2nd Bite: The Best Gyoza in Town
Gyoza, also known as Japanese dumplings, is another highlight of our Japan food tour. These delectable dumplings have gained popularity worldwide, but experiencing them in Japan takes the taste to a whole new level.
Gyoza consists of a thin, delicate wrapper filled with a flavorful mixture of ground meat, vegetables, and seasonings. During our tour, you’ll have the opportunity to try pan-fried gyoza, with a deliciously crispy side, or steamed gyoza, cooked to perfection.
The history of gyoza can be traced back to China, where it was originally known as jiaozi. Over time, it made its way to Japan and became a beloved dish with its own unique twist. In Japan, gyoza is commonly filled with a combination of ground pork, cabbage, garlic, ginger, and other seasonings. The dumplings are then cooked until the wrapper is crispy and the filling is juicy and flavorful.
During our food tour, you’ll have the opportunity to taste some of the best gyoza in Tokyo. Each bite offers an explosion of flavors, from the savory filling to the crispy exterior. Don’t forget to dip them in the accompanying sauce, a combination of soy sauce and vinegar, for an extra burst of tanginess.
3rd Bite: Everyone Loves Japanese Yakitori!
Yakitori, which translates to “grilled chicken,” is a popular dish that showcases the mastery of Japanese culinary techniques. It consists of skewered pieces of chicken, grilled over charcoal until perfectly cooked. The simplicity of this dish allows the natural flavors of the chicken to shine through.
The origins of yakitori can be traced back to the street food stalls of Tokyo during the Edo period (1603-1868). It was a time when street vendors would skewer small pieces of chicken and grill them over charcoal fires. These humble beginnings laid the foundation for what would become an iconic dish in Japanese cuisine.
Over the years, yakitori has evolved, and today it encompasses a wide variety of skewered meats and vegetables. While chicken remains the most popular choice, yakitori can also feature pork, beef, seafood, and even some vegetarian Yakitory made out of tofu. The skewers are carefully seasoned with a variety of sauces and glazes, ranging from the traditional tare (a sweet and savory soy-based sauce) to more modern and inventive flavors.
Yakitori has gained such popularity in Japan due to its simplicity and the emphasis on the natural flavors of the ingredients, being a very common asian street food. The grilling process over charcoal imparts a smoky aroma and caramelization, enhancing the taste of the meats and vegetables. Each skewer is meticulously prepared and grilled to perfection, resulting in tender and succulent morsels.
In addition to its delicious taste, yakitori holds cultural significance in Japan. It is often enjoyed in izakayas, traditional Japanese gastropubs, where friends and colleagues gather after work to unwind and socialize. The relaxed and convivial atmosphere of these establishments, combined with the irresistible flavors of yakitori, create an experience that is uniquely Japanese.
4th Bite: Korokke – Tokyo Style Meat Croquette!
Korokke, a beloved dish in Tokyo, is a deep-fried delight that combines a crispy exterior with a flavorful filling. These meat croquettes have become a popular comfort food in Japan, offering a satisfying treat that is loved by locals and visitors alike.
The origins of korokke can be traced back to the influence of Western cuisine in Japan during the late 19th century. The dish is typically made by mixing mashed potatoes, minced meat (such as beef or pork), onions, and seasonings. The mixture is shaped into patties, coated with breadcrumbs, and deep-fried until golden and crispy.
We have to say, the Korokke is indeed one of the favorite dishes among many of our guests on the tour! However, we encourage you to discover your own personal favorite based on your unique taste!
5th Bite: The Secret Bite!
Okay, you didn’t expect us to reveal everything like that, right?! On all of our 60+ food tours around the world, there’s always a Secret Bite! The secret bite is a special dish on our tours that only those who experience them firsthand will find out what it is!
We have selected a special and delicious Japanese food that is kept under lock and key! But one thing you can be sure of… It is a delight like no other!
6th Bite: Fresh Fruits of the Season
Japan is known for its appreciation of seasonal produce, and the country takes pride in offering some of the finest fruits in the world. From juicy peaches and luscious melons to perfectly ripe strawberries and refreshing citrus fruits, our Japan food tour celebrates the abundance of fresh fruits that grace the local markets.
Each season brings a new array of fruits to enjoy. During spring, you’ll encounter sweet and fragrant strawberries that are at their peak. Summer offers a bounty of watermelons, cherries, and peaches that are a refreshing treat on hot days. Autumn brings the harvest of persimmons, pears, and grapes, while winter delights with citrus fruits like mikan and yuzu.
… or Manju!
Depending on the season, we also offer the Manju as a sweet bite!
Manju are soft, steamed buns with a sweet filling, often made with ingredients like red bean paste, matcha, or sweet potato. They come in various shapes and sizes, with each region offering its own unique twist on this beloved dessert. The origins of Manju can be traced back to China, where it was introduced to Japan during the 13th century.
7th Bite: Matcha Ice Cream
Matcha, a powdered green tea, has a rich cultural heritage in Japan and is celebrated for its distinct flavor and health benefits. Matcha ice cream combines the earthy notes of matcha with the creamy sweetness of ice cream, creating a delightful treat that is both indulgent and refreshing.
The history of matcha can be traced back to the 9th century when Buddhist monks brought tea seeds from China to Japan. Initially, matcha was exclusively consumed by monks as part of their meditation practices due to its ability to induce a state of calm alertness. Over time, matcha became more widely embraced by the upper class and eventually permeated throughout Japanese society.
During the 12th century, a tea cultivation technique known as “shade-grown” was developed, which involved covering tea plants with shade cloth to enhance their flavor and increase the production of chlorophyll and amino acids. This practice gave rise to a new type of tea called “tencha,” which would later be ground into the fine powder we now know as matcha.
The popularity of matcha continued to rise during the 16th century with the development of the Japanese tea ceremony, or chanoyu. This ceremonial practice emphasized the meticulous preparation and presentation of matcha, elevating it to an art form. Matcha became an integral part of Japanese culture, symbolizing harmony, respect, and tranquility.
In the realm of culinary delights, matcha found its way into various creations, including the beloved matcha ice cream. The sweet and creamy treat combines the earthy and slightly bitter notes of matcha with the smoothness of ice cream, resulting in a harmonious blend of flavors.
Matcha ice cream has gained popularity both in Japan and around the world for its unique taste and health benefits. Matcha is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and it is known to boost metabolism, promote relaxation, and provide a natural energy boost without the jitters associated with caffeine.
Our article is coming to an end, but if you want to explore more Asian cuisine make sure to check out our blog post “15 places to try while in Saigon”!
Unveil the hidden culinary gems of Tokyo with our unforgettable food tour. From the first bite to the last, you’ll be enchanted by the diverse and exquisite flavors that define Tokyo’s gastronomy.
Immerse yourself in the vibrant food culture, connect with passionate local vendors, and create lasting memories as you navigate the culinary wonders of this captivating city. Don’t miss this chance to embark on a foodie adventure of a lifetime with our Secret Food Tour Tokyo!