It is always fun to learn more about Japanese cuisine (or washoku). We love Japanese foods, and always crave for more. Hands down, Japanese dishes are some of the best in the world. In fact, the Michelin Guide awarded 234 stars to restaurants around Tokyo in 2018, more than any other city on earth.
Far before that, UNESCO granted traditional washoku cultural heritage status in 1993. This is evidence that Japanese cuisine is a timeless cuisine, making it one of the world’s most exciting dining destinations!
Tokyo must be the first destination that you will go to if you decide to travel to Japan. The capital city of Japan is actually just one city inside Tokyo Prefecture (formerly called Edo). The prefecture has been the political centre for over four centuries, and also a business centre for hundreds of years. There’s a lot of history in Tokyo, thus it has naturally exerted great influence on washoku.
We must be excited to taste authentic Tokyo-made Japanese food, as cuisine is an integral part of Tokyo prefecture. Local creations from Tokyo are usually referred to as “Edo-mae”, meaning “in front of Edo”. The dishes are made from local seafood from Edo Bay (Tokyo Bay).
Here are the four Japanese foods originates from Tokyo Prefecture:
1. Shoyu ramen
We can find different types of ramen from across Japan in Tokyo. However, you can also try their own traditional ramen: shoyu ramen. Shoyu ramen is believed to be one of the first ramen varieties. Tokyo-style shoyu ramen is a soy sauce based ramen, resulting in a salty taste and dark-coloured soup.
A bowl of shoyu ramen usually contains fresh curly noodles and meat or seafood broth mixed with a fragrant combination of kombu stock and soy sauce. Simple toppings such as marinated bamboo shoots (menma), seaweed (nori), egg, sliced pork belly (chashu), and green onion, which are also provided. All in all, it is a refreshing variety of ramen, and praised for its exquisite flavours.
2. Edomae sushi
In Edo (now Tokyo), sushi was made because there was no refrigeration technology available. To keep the fish from spoiling, many seafoods were simmered in broth or marinated in soy sauce for a few hours. This process will retain the raw texture, while the salt prevents seafood from spoiling quickly.
If you happen to visit Tokyo, you can enjoy Edomae-zushi with fresh fish and seafood from Tokyo Bay. Seafoods are served with sushi rice which has vinegar in it. You can also watch sushi chefs at many restaurants with an old-school atmosphere.
You probably already tried Okonomiyaki before. Okonomiyaki comes from Hiroshima and Osaka, but Tokyo also has a similar dish named Monjayaki. Monjayaki has a much more liquid consistency, but still made with most cabbage and toppings of your choice. It’s also made with a batter and cooked on a griddle, but it’s a little more difficult to cook by yourself.
Monjayaki is easy to find in downtown Tokyo, particularly in the Tsukishima area. There’s a street called “Monja Street” which is the best place to eat Monjayaki. It is fun to eat Monjayaki there, you can also try to make Monjayaki by yourself on griddle-equipped tables.
Soba is made from buckwheat noodles, a popular dish in Japan. Tokyo-style soba has strong flavoured broth. The dipping sauce used in Tokyo is traditionally relatively thick, and we are encouraged to dip the noodles into it only lightly. This is the “hip” way for Tokyo natives to enjoy soba, then we can savour the soba texture and flavour it without chewing them too much.
During the winter, Tokyo Prefecture usually enjoys Sarashina Soba, a pure white variety of soba. This thin soba is made from the endosperm of buckwheat seeds. It’s considered to be the highest standard of shoba, since it is handmade at shops that specialise in it. Sarashina Soba should be dipped into a hot soup, usually Mentsuyu broth that is rich in umami taste, to eat it. It’s a must try if you are visiting Tokyo, as the high-grade soba has delicate aroma and faint sweetness.
Those are Japanese foods originally from Tokyo. Make sure you try them if you are visiting Tokyo Prefecture. If you are not able to travel, you are only one click away of tasting delicious Japanese foods from Sakae Sushi.