‘What’s the best food you’ve had in Japan?’ – has to be one of the hardest questions I’ve received. Japan is full of unique dining concepts, super fresh, and not to mention delicious, food. It’s hard to pick one and impossible to list all, so here is my list of restaurants and food that you have to try in the quaint little Kansai district.
1. All Kind of Matcha, Uji
Tell me, What is better than trying all things Matcha right at its birthplace? This little town of Uji magically transforms the humble green tea leaves into fragrant Matcha that you and I love.
To taste Matcha in its full glory, try the 中村藤吉 (Nakamura Tokichi) Matcha & Hoji-cha (roasted tea) Ice Cream. It is the BEST in Uji. Generous amount of soft serve ice cream, tasty glutinous rice balls, and smooth red bean paste – what’s there not to like?
Note that queues can get really long on a hot summer day, but it will be worth the wait, I promise!
If you prefer your matcha in a savory dish, head further down towards そば処 ながの (Sobadokoro Nagano) for their hand-made Matcha Soba.
If you’re lucky, you might be able to watch the chef make his Soba right in front of you! This restaurant is so popular that it closes by 2p.m, so be sure to get there early!
2. Mouth Watering Beef, Kobe
This one is for hardcore carnivores. If you love your beef, you will be spoiled for choice here. Even the lowest grade of Kobe beef is meltingly soft. Head down to one of the many outlet shops in Steak Land in Kobe to try serve really good, value-for-money beef served Teppanyaki (hotplate) style. Talk about mouth watering!
3. Flowing Noodle, Kibune
Give your arms a workout and put your chopsticks skills to test here. In Kibune, you can enjoy traditional 流しそうめん (Nagashi-Soumen) where ice cold noodles float by you in a bamboo tube. What you catch is what you eat! Trust me, it is not as easy as it looks. Still loads of fun though. Just remember to leave some for the people down the line!
4. World Famous Omurice, Kyoto
I’m pretty sure you have seen videos about the famous Omurice (omelette rice) on Facebook. Watching him cook live is only 100 times more impressive! Watching him cook is nothing less than watching a magic show. More than just the showmanship, this chef proves why he is the master of the craft; his omurice was superbly flavoured with rich beef stock.
Be warned that 洋食屋 キチキチ is beyond popular and reservations have to be made weeks or even months before you are guaranteed a 60 minutes time slot. (You can make you reservations online via their website.)
5. Traditional Box Sushi, Kyoto.
What is Japan without Sushi? To try the most authentic Hako Sushi, or the ‘Box Sushi’, head over to 祇園いづ重 京都寿司 (Izuju Kyoto), the oldest Sushi restaurant in Kyoto. It’s situated just across the street from the Gion Streets. Served with uncommon ingredients like pike conger and mackerel, these sushi packed in a box form is a rare find in Singapore, so you’ve got to try it at least once here.
However be warned that every diner present must order at least one serving of ala-carte sushi, which can add up to a slightly hefty price tag. But, it is definitely worth to try it once!
Japan has so much to offer, other than Ramens and Sashmis. Give them a try!