Jodi is finding these yummy eats on our “Discover Japan” tour! Follow along with hashtag #jodieatsjapan
After many years of travel and eating, people have asked me why I had not yet visited Japan. I will be writing more about the country’s food in depth, but suffice it to say that I have celiac disease, and Japan is a country fond of its wheat.
Instead of sampling the katsu curries and gyoza and steaming ramen bowls, I’ve been sticking to onigiri – rice triangles filled with salmon, tuna or plum and wrapped in a piece of seaweed – as well as many places of sushi, soba (buckwheat) noodles, and delicious fresh seafood at the market.
What follows is a short recount from my Instagram photos of the foods I’ve enjoyed – and one that was not safe for me to eat but was so beautiful that I had to photograph it anyhow.
1.Standing sushi: Served on a banana leaf at several locations in Toyko, this standing sushi joint clusters its customers around the sushi bar, allowing you to get a great glimpse at what is coming your way.
2. Soba noodles: One-hundred percent buckwheat noodles, served cold on a beautiful tray with a dipping sauce made from the water that was used to boil them, which is mixed with spring onions and some wasabi. Non-celiacs also add a splash of sauce. While the name includes wheat, buckwheat actually has no actual wheat, and thus no gluten. Filling and delicious.
3. A beautiful set meal of broiled fish, rice, freshly sliced tuna, pickled vegetables, and more.
4. It’s not a visit to Toyko without seeing the enormous and bustling Tsukiji market. This was a donburi bowl of tuna and salmon, served over warm rice and accompanied by tea.
5. A very interesting dinner of Hida beef (like Kobe beef, but from the Hida region), an egg, vegetables, miso, and more cooked on a magnolia leaf that is placed on a grill. This was a traditional meal from Takayama and a really leisurely way to enjoy dinner.
6. Fresh raw oysters from the Kawazana seafood market, straight out of the water and into my belly.
7. Presentation is often everything in Japan, and this nigiri spread was from a market-adjacent restaurant in Kanazawa that wowed us with its layout. Contrasting colours and textures, and incredibly fresh fish.
8. Okonomiyaki from Hiroshima, different from the version in Osaka – this one is served layered and topped with spring onions and seafood in lieu of bonito flakes and mayonnaise. The Osaka version of this “Japanese pancake” is served all mixed up and then grilled, topped with mayonnaise and bonito fish flakes. I couldn’t eat it (wheat!) but those who did said it was fantastic.
9. More oysters, but this time from Miyajima, grilled on the side of the road and topped with another Miyajima specialty: conger eel.
10. And finally, you can’t fully appreciate the food without getting to know the people who make it. My favourite eel vendor thus far, superbly sweet and very proud of what he had on offer.