Monday, 5 December 2016

FoodPunk Visits Japan

Japan was without a doubt the most bonkers, craziest, surreal country I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. For such a tiny island, it's in a little bubble of its own where at times I either felt like I was transported twenty years into the future or had gone back in time visiting feudal Japan.
We had such a blast and we tirelessly soaked up and took in as much as we could in the nine days that we were there. Thank God for the bullet trains because without that mode of transportation, there was no way we could have done all of the things we did. It's so hard to explain what Japan was like because honestly you have to visit yourselves to really know what this country is all about. Not everywhere was the same and the cities and towns offered many different things. For instance Tokyo as you'd expect was mad but at the same time fucking brilliant. For a city that was so condensed and heavily populated it was remarkable to see how efficient, clean and chilled out it was. I mean, yeah it was busy but it didn't feel like we were rushed or in a hurry to get anywhere. However, it was bloody difficult trying to get to places because at the stations there no English translations on any signs or maps but luckily we worked together to get from A to B.
Not only that Tokyo was like a party 24/7 especially in the area of Shinjuku where arcades, shopping centres and bars fill the streets and my word were they ridiculous. But for us we smashed some really cool foodie places and bars. In small, tight  alley ways there were a  strip of small bars where we snacked on little finger food sized sticks, drinking some of the finest beers on offer. The food was amazing with a variety of small plates of meat, fish and vegetarian. No word of a lie, Japan did the best tofu dish ever. It was crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, drizzled with a generous helping of soy and garnished with spring onions. They turned something that has the reputation of being shit into something simple and special.
 Still with the food, Tokyo wasn't the only place that did great tasting stuff. In Kyoto, we went to a restaurant that was famous for its iron pot gyoza and it was incredible. It was crispy, meaty, mouth watering and again probably the best gyozas of all time....OF ALL TIME.
We all know about Wagyu beef and in Kobe, you can guess it, we had Kobe steak. If there's something better than sex, Kobe beef would be that something. It was just love on a plate and when the chef was preparing it fresh straight in front of me, my mouth just filled with saliva. Each bite got better and better and better and better. It seriously melted in my mouth, I hardly chewed at all and for two hundred grams costing nearly one hundred pounds, it was money well spent.
Osaka did these insane savoury rosti/pancakes called Okonomiyaki. I think it was a mixture of shredded mooli and potato, but anyways it was gorgeous and there were a few different toppings we had. One was overloaded with meat, topped with a fried egg and the other had shavings of meat with gooey, stringy melted cheese, topped with more meat.
Now obviously Japan is known for Sushi and its everywhere more so than McDonalds over here in London. Its to die for and I sound like a snob for this but after eating the sushi during my nine days, there's no way I can eat it over here. Moreover, the sushi in Japan costs a fraction of the price over here in London. Seeing the sushi chefs effortlessly slice fish and making different varieties in front of my eyes made the whole experience worthwhile.


As I mentioned earlier Japan has got so much going on for itself and if it wasn't for the bullet trains, it would have made life a tad difficult for us. For instance we landed at Fukuoka which is 684 miles from Tokyo. Now that's a whopping distance but because of how fast the bullet trains were, it only took us about six hours to get there and that was with a change. They were fantastic to be on. So smooth and ridiculously fast. Osaka and Tokyo were similar in character with massive tall buildings filled with bright neon lights and super sized screens, bars, clubs, restaurants and huge shopping districts but places like Nara, Kobe and Kyoto offered a more elegant and traditional touch.
Granted Osaka and Tokyo had beautiful palace gardens and castles which offered a peaceful vibe and a welcome change of scenery to the hustle and bustle of both the cities but Nara, Kobe and Kyoto had more traditional surroundings and areas. You cant get more traditional than seeing World Heritage sites such as the Imperial Palace and gardens. I even managed to sneak in a selfie with a deer.



  And there's no way I can finish this blog without mentioning the Japanese themselves. They for me would win the most polite people in the world contest. They're patient, considerate and friendly to the point of being OTT. They constantly bowed and cheered if we did something good. Take this for example, we arrived at our stop on the underground and I did the polite thing of letting this lady and her children off the train first, she bowed a few times and once I stepped off the train, she waited for me and bowed again. A small gesture went a long way. It was as if I performed some sort of miracle. Even when we played darts and one of us hit the bullseye, the whole place would erupt with cheer as if we had won a major tournament. The Japanese were a great group to be around, so approachable and friendly.
So my friends, that is the end of my little adventure in Japan. I had such  a memorable experience, eating some of the very best foods, learning so much about Japanese culture and visiting some breath taking landmarks. And without a doubt spending time and partying hard with my best friends was the icing on the cake to what was already an epic adventure.