If it’s your first visit to Tokyo, Japanese food can be intimidating so find a local to point out some favorites. That’s why After 5 Food Tour by Urban Adventures helped me in my first week living in Japan. My English-speaking guide offered insights into Japanese dining customs, like the proper way to hold chopsticks. Read on for why taking a Tokyo food tour is helpful.
Why Taking a Tokyo Food Tour is Helpful
During my After 5 Food Tour by Urban Adventures I learned about Japanese food.
- How to properly hold chopsticks.
- Know when a Japanese restaurant is open.
- How to say Cheers inJapanese.
- The history of Yakitori and Yakitori Alley.
- The different varieties of Yakitori available.
- How mochi is made.
- What food gifts are appropriate when visiting friends.
- How to make Monja-yaki.
Sample Savory Yakitori
Our tour started with a favorite for locals after work, Yakitori. Duck down Yakitori Alley for an authentic experience. With part of it under railway lines, see modest wooden buildings hung with traditional paper lanterns.
We grabbed a table for a selection of yakitori, bamboo skewers of meat and vegetables grilled to perfection. During our tasting we enjoyed chicken, mushroom, tofu, pork, green beans and gingko nuts from the gingko tree. Traditionally served with Japanese beer or sake, everyone at the table toasted to a kanpai.
For the kids, I tried one of Japan’s most popular sodas, Ramune. The bottle features a marble that you push into the bottle to release the carbonation. And it’s got a slight fruity taste that’s a favorite with Japanese kids.
Sweets Treats in Ginza
For a traditional sweet treat, the tour headed to Ginza next. The luxury shopping district offered amazing architecture and confectionary shops where we sampled mochi. Made of rice and flavored with assorted seasonal flavors, it’s a favorite sweet treat.
Since I took the After 5 Tour in the summer, I tried an apricot and red bean mochi. Red beans, or Anko, are traditionally used in Japanese confections. Crushed into a paste and sweetened with sugar, Anko tastes both salty and sweet with a hint of nuttiness.
Continuing our walk through Ginza, we toured a department store food hall. In the basement of the Ginza Mitsukoshi Department Store, we saw lots of French seasonal desserts. Then rows of bento boxes that our guide said were a must for our Shinkansen train trip to Kyoto.
We even walked by melons in gift boxes that sold for 25,000 Japanese yen (roughly $250). Packaged and meant for gifts, Japanese traditionally give gifts when visiting friends and family.
Tsukishima for Monja-Yaki
Then our tour hopped a Tokyo Metro for the next stop, Tsukishima, an island next to Tokyo. We walked down the quieter streets for our next culinary treat, Monja-yaki.
Located on Monja Street, we stopped at a traditional restaurant where we slipped off our shoes. Guided up the stairs, we found our table that featured a griddle.
Our tableside cook brought out a bowl of cabbage, mochi and pork. Dumping the mixture into the middle of the griddle it cooked for a minute. After the mixture cooked, she added a thin batter that looked like pancake mix. Then she cut up it into smaller pieces with her spatula moving the pancake around quickly.
The Monja-yaki cooked through and our cook cut it up into bite-sized pieces. Taking my chopsticks, I grabbed a piece for a bite.
After sampling the Monja-yaki, our group enjoyed dessert. On the griddle, our cook returned with a crepe-looking batter. Pouring it in the middle of the griddle, she formed a circle. Then after the pancake set up she added my favorite, chocolate.
The crepe was rolled up and cut into pieces for us to enjoy. As if a chocolate dessert wasn’t enough, she brought green tea ice cream too.
With full stomachs and new friends from Australia and Japan, we headed back to the Yurakucho Station where our tour began.
Meet outside JR Yurakucho Station.
Tour starts 5 p.m. and lasts until 8 p.m.
Tour price based on age, not for kids under 12.
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