Thursday 18 July 2013

Eating in Japan

I was asked several times to write something about the food in Japan. I tried to make some photos of my dinner experiences. It can be a bit difficult to find a restaurant you like in Osaka. There are a lot of small shops which are specialized on a few things but you don't know which if you can not read Japanese. Some have English menus but normally not outside. I'm not sure if they had foreigners in mind but a very great invention for people not able to speak Japanese are models of the food. They take their models very serious. I even have seen plastic beer :-)

Large collection of available food.

Being a sculpture it easily ignores gravity.

It's very helpful to get an idea of a restaurants menu.
They difficult thing that remains is how to tell the waitress which dish you like. To be honest I mostly tried to prevent that by going out with people who are able to speak Japanese. When I was eating alone I had to hope that something like "Ramen onegaishimasu" does not provoke to many further inquiries.

Despite of easier ordering eating with many people is in general more fun. Especially when you try to go out with around 20 people when most restaurants do not have so many seats at all. During one of these trips we ended up in a supposedly Korean place. The funny thing was that you get raw meat and must cook it yourself on small fires at the table. The meat was very tasty. Some people even grilled shrimps but these had to be peeled before. In any case it was a good training for being fast with chopsticks. I think this idea of indoor barbecue could be very popular in Germany, too. 

Two former Insei enjoy food preparation.

This one is from a shop close by to the playing site and they have an English menu. That makes it a good choice for a quick lunch.
Donburi (rice bowl dish) with egg and beef.
The most interesting eating experience happened a few days ago. One of the camp participants is currently fasting because of Ramadan. That means he is just allowed to eat after sunset. Naturally he want's to get a proper meal then. Some of the guys discovered an All-you-can-eat-and-drink place which is perfect under this circumstances. The whole thing costs 3,000 Yen for two hours. In the first 45 minutes they serve some basic dishes like fries, pizza or kind of "snack beans". After that you can order from a large menu. The interaction with the waiters is reduced to a minimum at that place since you order by using an electronic pen.  You have to point this (magic) pen on the dish you want in the menu say how many of it and send the order. After some starting problems and a new pen we figured out in which angle the pen works best and then it was very convenient.

David demonstrates the electronic ordering.

We got a large variety of different dishes. The sausages in the front were ordered by me.

Since the waiter had nothing to do but delivering our food we asked him to take a picture.

And that's how it looked at the end of the party.
I could not check it out but I was still surprised to find a German place at all.

I found a German Grill but it was closed.
Next to traditional restaurants there are also the standard international franchises like McDonalds and Subway Sandwiches but with noticeable different menu. Subway for example has a sandwich with shrimps but none with salami which is a bad trade in my opinion. 
(I don't think you are interested in this but I still can not understand why they cut my large sandwich in halves before they added the ingredients. I worked shortly for Subways and I absolutely see no point in dividing it at the start instead of the end. Any guesses?)
After telling you about the mostly traditional and high quality restaurants here is a tip if you have less time/money or it is 3 am in the morning. There are so called convenience stores. As far as I know, they never close and they offer a decent supply of food, drinks and other stuff. The even have microwaves to immediately heat your food. Unfortunately when it comes to packed food like rice balls or lunch boxes you have to gamble about the ingredients again. Sometimes you can guess a bit from the picture :-)
These stores can be found everywhere. We have two in a distance of about 5 meters.

Convenience store close to the playing site - lifesaving place in a lot of situations


  1. Thanks for the post on the food! Makes me so hungry right now and it's alright 11:00PM here. Haha. What would you say is your favorite dish of the entire trip so far?

    1. My last dinner at the airport was Okonomiyaki ( which I did not had before but was very very tasty.
      I also liked the Ramen noodle soups quite a lot but I think you can get reasonable ones also outside of Japan.

    2. Awesome! Thanks again for writing these posts. They are fantastic!

  2. Finally, a food report! :-)

    Yeah, I love those wax food models too. They are both convenient and appetizing.