Travel Back in Time to Old-World Tokyo
Discover Tokyo's rich cultural and culinary traditions on a guided tour of the city's pastTues, Thurs, Fri, Sat: 12:45pm-3:45pm
Tokyo’s futuristic streets can be daunting, but just below the city’s surface is a culture that goes back hundreds of years. A trip to the Japanese capital is a jump into a melting pot of old and new, whether it’s witnessing the latest trends in technology before the rest of the world gets a glance, enjoying a sumo tournament or watching a show on the kabuki stage. This decadent mix of old and new has made Tokyo a foodie destination like no other. There are new gastronomic experiences at every turn, from the most expensive (and probably best) sushi you will ever taste, to delicious bowls of noodles on the street that’ll cost less than your bus fare.
Tokyo’s coastal location means that seafood is at the heart of the cuisine here. Japan’s most famous culinary export, sushi, comes naturally to this port city, and to get a sense of the importance of the ocean you only have to visit the Tsukiji fish market. It’s busy, and very much a working market despite being a popular tourist destination. Get there early for the tuna auctions and marvel at the sheer size of the beautiful fish on offer, then stay for a tasty sushi breakfast.
Tea is very important in Japanese culture and wherever you go in Tokyo you’ll see it proudly displayed on menus. Usually ‘tea’ refers specifically to green tea or matcha green tea and although most commonly had as a drink in its own right, it’s also used to flavour sweet dishes such as cake and ice cream. Beer is also very popular as an alcoholic beverage and as well as big brands like Sapporo and Asahi, a lively pop-up scene packed with micro-breweries is beginning to develop. Sake, or rice wine, is a strong spirit usually served with food, and placed in a decanter with small cups for each drinker. Tradition states that you serve your dining partners, using both hands on the bottle, rather than pouring for yourself.
Many restaurants in Tokyo specialise in one dish. For example, you might find somewhere only serves gyozas - steamed or fried stuffed dumplings - and another focusing on tonkatsu - panko crumbed, deep-fried pork cutlets - not dissimilar to schnitzel and often served with rice, pickles and miso soup. Ramen shops are plentiful in Tokyo and shoyu ramen in particular is a firm favourite. It’s a noodle dish soy sauce and a pork broth topped with meat and boiled eggs.
Tokyo is an assault on your senses in every way – It’s bright, noisy, colourful and full of flavour. It’s a city bathed in contradiction, as the modern tussles with age-old tradition. For any foodie, it’s the perfect destination with an endless array of culinary experiences to be had.