Some Western culinary influences in Japan, including Portugal (tempura) and the Americas (teppanyaki), have been so integrated into Japanese cooking, it is difficult to differentiate them from more traditional Japanese cuisine like sushi and kaiseki. Standard Japanese meals usually include rice, soup, pickles and an entree, like fish or vegetables.
The Japanese people love to eat raw fish in the form of sushi or sashimi as a domestic delicacy. Sushi shops are among the most popular eating spots in the country. But fish of any preparation is not a staple food. Only rice enjoys that status. You may be surprised to discover an almost infinite variety of Japanese cuisine, which more than holds its own against the inundation of overseas ethnic cuisines that have "traveled" to Japan with immense success.
Restaurants and other dining spots offer tasty dishes in a very broad price range, from very expensive to very affordable. You can also rest assured of impeccable service, the highest sanitation standards, and safe tap water to drink. Sample some of the popular Japanese dishes to discover your own favorites.
From the heights of Chinese culinary delights to the peaks of French haute cuisine, Japan's premier restaurants are second to none. Most are located in the best hotels or in fashionable city districts such as Tokyo's Ginza, Roppongi, Akasaka and Harajuku. Gourmets may discover new taste sensations never before encountered.
More affordable restaurants abound in downtown office building basements, the dining floors of department stores, urban shopping centers, and the underground malls of the busiest railway stations.
At lunchtime, office workers crowd these dining spots. Many order teishoku, a low-priced complete meal on a tray. Most restaurants in the moderate to inexpensive price range have realistic plastic models of their dishes, with prices, in a showcase outside the entrance. If you don't know what to order, point to the dish you want to try. Some restaurants have bilingual (Japanese and English) menus. Paperback guidebooks to inexpensive Japanese dishes are available at major bookstores.
For people in a hurry, noodle stands, coffee shops, fastfood outlets and vending machines provide a variety of food and drink at very low cost.
At most restaurants, you receive a bill and pay as you leave. A few have you buy a meal coupon in advance and hand it to the waiter or waitress. Payment is made in cash except when credit cards are accepted. Inexpensive restaurants, coffee shops and fast-food outlets accept cash only. No tipping, please.
Unique Dining Novelties
from Kate's Global Kitchen:
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This page modified January 2007
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