Javantea in Japan
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Eating Guide in Tokyo
by Joel R. Voss aka. Javantea
E-mail Addresses
April 24, 2006 10:31 JST
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It's 20 days into my trip and I'm still doing really well. The food is good, the price is right. I think you can be vegatarian over here if you know the language well and have a knowledge of what button connects to what ingredients.

My Favorite Ramen shop
I haven't been vegetarian, but I've been avoiding meat-only dishes. Even that may change. Curries usually have beef added. I think that they are cooked together. Ramen often uses beef or fish broth though it could be different in each shop. Beef is usually cooked with the vegatables. The keywords are:
ラーメン ramen /(n) Chinese-style noodles
天婦羅 [てんぷら] tenpura /deep-fried fish and vegetables/tempura
蕎麦 [そば] /(n) soba (buckwheat noodles)
饂飩 [うどん] udon/(n) (uk) noodles (Japanese)
焼そば [やきそば] yakisoba /(n) fried soba
冷麦 [ひやむぎ] hiyamugi /(n) cold noodles/iced noodles

If you're going for vegetarian, here's how to do it: first off, look for the cold soba noodles. They're usually around 200 yen. You can be confident that the noodles are just wheat cooked in water. That's just grain, so you'll eventually need some vegatables, beans, nuts, etc. You can get vegatables at the convenience store. If you're a good cook, you can get vegatables at the supermarket. They even have frozen vegis for bad cooks like me. Salted mixed nuts can be bought also, but are expensive. Osembe is rice crackers usually with peanuts. As far as I can tell, it's rice and wasabi.

My favorite ramen shop above is my favorite because it's cheap (300 yen) and close to my home (3 blocks). It's in a shopping street (cars not allowed) and you can see the southern entrance is quite noticable.
Entrance to Favorite Ramen Shop

My friend has shown me some really good dishes. A traditional Japanese meal homecooked is unbeatable. Many thanks for Haruko's amazing crazy good 8 course meal. Here's a list of common ingredients and dishes in Japanese. I don't know if this is terribly useful, but that's ok.

筍 [たけのこ] takenoko /(n) bamboo shoots
和布 [わかめ] wakame /(n) seaweed
生薑 [しょうが] shoga /(n) ginger
枝豆 [えだまめ] edamame /(n) green soybeans
胡麻 [ごま] goma /(n) sesame seeds
浅蜊 [あさり] asari /(n) short-necked clam
生ビール [なまビール] nama biru /(n) draft beer
ビール瓶 [ビールびん] biru bin /beer bottle
食べ物 [たべもの] tabemono /(n) food
薩摩揚げ [さつまあげ] satsumaage /deep-fried ball of fish paste
葱 [ねぎ] negi /(n) green onion
墨魚 [いか] ika /squid/cuttlefish
胡瓜 [きゅうり] kyuuri /(n) cucumber
玉蜀黍 [とうもろこし] toumorokoshi /(n) corn
人参 [にんじん] ninjin /(n) carrot/ginseng
梅 [うめ] ume /(n) plum
塩 [しお] shio /(n) salt
揚げ出し豆腐 [あげだしどうふ] agedashi toufu /(n) deep-fried tofu
なおこ naoko /long thin brown "naoko" mushroom
茸 [きのこ] /(n) mushrooms

On Sunday, a line of shops at Senso-ji
On Sunday, there is a line of good restaurants at Senso-ji, Asakusa. Since you're going to Senso-ji anyway, get some food there. Yakisoba is my favorite food there. Senso-ji also has a line of souvenir shops 7 days a week. Grab some souvenirs, but don't go crazy. If it isn't Sunday, within 3 blocks of Senso-ji is 50 good restaurants. I'm not kidding, they can fit 50 restaurants and 50 souvenir shops in 3 square blocks.

Whatever you do, don't go to ROX3 for food (except the 24 hour supermarket in the basement). ROX3 has decent fashion and an ok bookstore, I guess. But don't get food there.

Immediately after writing this, I found a good substitute for eating at ROX3. Behind ROX3 and across from Tsutaya (DVD/CD rental), there is my 3rd favorite ramen shop.
Across from Tsutaya ROX Asakusa
This same shop is in Akihabara near Suehirocho (north end) subway.
Across from Tsutaya ROX Asakusa
The name of the thing to get is Yasai tappuri Tan-men. This is vegatable soba ramen with a small amount of beef.

If you're slightly more desperate for food, there are plenty of 24-hour places. You just have to look for the 24. I know two logos for 24-hour places. The first is Yoshinoya (mainly fast food beef/chicken/pork bowls) which is orange with a white stripe and black text. You can get a mini vegi salad (serada) for 90 yen. The other is two kanji that I don't know on a white circle on yellow/orange background. I haven't been there, but they have shops here and there.

At the convenience store, (7-11, AM/PM, Lawson, etc) you will probably see Pocky. Go ahead and grab a pack. Just don't let this happen to you.

Todo list:
I haven't gone to a sushi shop yet, but I will soon.
I went to a yakiniku and got salad and soup. I should go with a group and cook a bunch of meat. ^_^;
Get more pocky.
Learn the list of food I eat.

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If you are interested in traveling Japan, feel free to e-mail me.