If you are a seafood fan, then this article is for you. Check out the best seafood dishes around the world as suggested by my fellow travel and food bloggers.
Ueno Park is well-known for its rows of cherry blossom trees which turn the entire park into a canopy of white and pink petals during the Sakura season. I visited Ueno park in peak cherry blossom season and truly it’s one of the most beautiful scenes to behold despite the crowd.
Sakura-Hanami, a tradition of having a picnic under the cherry blossom tree, was in full swing. Rows and rows of blue colored tarp were spread under the cherry blossoms and people were having a merry time sipping Sake and consuming delicious food with their family. One look at all the food on display and my stomach rumbled. There are a few food stalls in the park, but the long lines discouraged me from joining them. I promised myself I would stand in line after the boat ride on the Shinobazu Pond at the other end of the park.
Street Food Stalls At Shinobazu Pond near Ueno Park
What I didn’t know was beside the pond, there was a street food heaven waiting for me. This was truly unexpected and a pleasant surprise to my hungry stomach. I wasted no time in exploring the delicious food in yellow colored stalls.
If you visit Ueno Park, here is some of the Japanese street food you should try:
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake/crêpe. The pancake flour is cooked on a griddle and topped with cabbage, veggies, pork belly, bacon or other toppings just like a pizza. The toppings differ across the different regions in Japan. Usually, the pancake is topped off by a sunny-side up egg. This is one of Japan’s famous street food.
Dango – Sticky Rice Cake/Balls
Dango is a sweet sticky rice dessert made from a special rice flour called mochiko. Here, three types of Dangos are being sold – the original (plain sweet dumplings with no additional flavor), a green-tea flavored rice ball (called Chadango ) and a cherry flavored Dango. Typically, 3 to 5 dumplings are loaded on a single-stick.
Deep Fried Seafood
One thing you have to try in Japan is obviously the seafood. This was the first time I tried fried octopus. Initially, I felt weird eating the octopus. Especially, I didn’t like to see the suckers on the arms/legs up close before eating it. I was very reluctant to feel the texture of the suckers against my tongue. However, once I got over the texture issue, It was actually not that bad. It had a strong sea flavour which I am not a huge fan but the soy sauce on top it reduces that a bit.
Chocolate Covered Banana With Sprinkles
I have a sweet tooth. Naturally, I ran straight to a stall selling bananas covered in chocolate and sprinkles when I spotted it. I was so excited when I got it, that I balanced a coke can, which I had previously opened, on a slightly unsteady ledge on a bridge nearby. Lo and behold! I committed my worst faux pas in Japan… the coke can fell from the ledge, spilling juice on the ground. Yikes! Several people around me audibly gasped. I didn’t dare meet anyone’s eye. I quickly picked up the can and escaped with my chocolate covered banana.
Pork and Chicken Skewers
These pork and chicken skewers were delicious and very cheap at 200 Yen( approx. $2). I had one of each. On a side note, don’t you think this video is kind of hypnotizing? I could watch that man turn over the skewers for hours!
One of my favorite food of all time is Noodles and I had a variety of it in Japan. I, especially, love the noodles fried on a griddle oozing with soy and oyster sauce. They are so yummy.
Can you believe how huge those crabs are! I think they may be artificial and not real crab shells. Stores in Japan usually use plastic food samples on their storefronts. May be this is one of those.
Corn On A Cob
There are also standard American street food favorites such as hotdog on a stick and corn on the cob if you don’t feel like trying new Japanese street food. The corn on the cob is also an excellent vegetarian option.
Unknown yet delicious looking food
One thing that was difficult for me was that most stalls didn’t have the name of the food in English. So half the time I didn’t recognize some unfamiliar foods. I wish I knew how to read Japanese or it would have been nice to have a Japanese local to help me out. Also, the food stall owners knew limited English, so they were no help either.
Some stalls like chicken/pork stalls had picture of a chicken and pig beside the Japanese lettering so I knew immediately what they were. I am not at all saying that people in every country should use English. However, using pictures to show what the food was, was immensely helpful. If I visit Japan again, I am planning to learn some basic Japanese sentences like What food is this? , Is this Chicken or Pork? and names of the different foods. I suggest everyone visiting Japan do the same, especially if they have some diet restrictions.
These white balls heaped on the frying pan look like small fried potatoes with some seasoning. They may also have been dough balls but less likely.
I assume that this is Tofu Fry. If it is, it’s a another option for vegetarians. I am not a big fan of Tofu so I skipped that.
What do you think of these Japanese street food? Which one would you try if you visited Ueno Park, Tokyo? Let me know in the comments.
I will leave you with one last video of Okonomiyaki to tempt you..
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Takeshita Street in Harajuku, Tokyo is lauded as the street where new Indie fashion trends originate and flourish, a place for teenagers to showcase their rebelious streak and a street of tasty delights. Is it really worth all the excitement? Read on and find out!
Where is Takeshita street and how to get there?
Takeshita Street or Takeshita Dori is directly opposite the Harajuku Station on the Yamanote line. From Harajuku Station, take the Takeshita Exit.
When is the best time to visit Takeshita street?
Takeshita Street was the first place I visited when I set out to explore Tokyo. Being the morning person that I am, my husband and I set out at 9.30 am on a Monday morning! We were there by 10 am and what do we see? The street was deserted and everything was closed except for the reliable McDonald’s. I later found out that Takeshita Street is not an exception and that most businesses in Japan open shop at 11 am. We waited out the hour munching our breakfast burgers in McDonald’s. After 11 am, all the shops opened and within an hour the street filled with people.
On subsequent visits to Takeshita Street, I found out that 11 am on a monday morning was indeed a good time to visit Takeshita Street. The worst time is obviously during weekends when the street and the closeby Harajuku station are so crowded that you will have very little space to move let alone explore the shops.
5 Fashion/Beauty Stores You Should Visit In Takeshita Dori
The fashion stores in Takeshita Street are mainly youth and teen oriented. This means that the items that you find here may not be of great quality. In fact, many of the stores I found on this street were selling clothes whose quality was similar to what you find in a flea market. However, the upside of this is that they are cost-effective and some of the pieces you find here are unique and trendy.
If you are looking for better quality/higher price tag and not teen/youth fashion, visit the stores in the neighboring Omotesando street. There were a few notable stores that caught my eye and were selling unique items which I considered buying from:
#1. Out Of The World
Among all the stores on Takeshita Dori, I was particularly attracted by this shoe store. Some of the shoes displayed in this store had a Punk/Rock vibe. Some of the shoes displayed were really out there and I would probably never wear them. However, the plain black ones and the black and gold shoes with the platform heels, with some resemblance to Stella McCartney’s platform shoes, drew my attention. Unfortunately, the women’s shoes in this store don’t come in all sizes.. I couldn’t find the shoe that I liked in size 8 (US)! Huge Disappointment :(.
#2. Liz Lisa and Body Line
You will find many young girls in this street and else where in Tokyo wearing dollish/Victorian style clothing and makeup. Some of the clothes are not just costume or cosplay as many might think but a fashion trend in Japan known as Lolita Style . There are stores in Takeshita Street like Liz Lisa and Body Line that cater specifically to this fashion trend. Body Line has some cosplay costumes as shown by the mannequins outside the store whereas, the clothes in Liz Lisa mainly adhere to the Sweet Lolita trend. If you don’t want to be dressed completely in the Lolita look, you can still choose some cute accessories and shoes that look great even with your regular wardrobe.
#3. Boutique TakeNoko
You can’t miss the colorful display of Boutique Takenoko as you walk down Takeshita Dori. This cosplay shop became famous in the 1970’s and 80’s when the dance group Takenoko-zoku shopped at Boutique Takenoko for their dance numbers.
Though, it’s not a place where you could shop for your everyday wardrobe, it’s still a fun place to visit.
#4. Etude House
Due to the emergence of K-Drama and K-Pop, South Korean beauty products have seen a huge boost in popularity. Being a regular user of these products myself, I was glad to find Etude House, which specialises in Korean beauty products. This store has a pink toy house-like rooftop and can be found just below the Totti Candy Factory store. You will also see this store in the video I have posted above. I loved the pretty pink interiors of Etude House. I found it inviting and very girly. They had loads of products samples which you can try before you buy.
#5. Paris Kid’s
Paris Kid’s is an accessory store that sells typical accessories like hair bands, bangles, ear rings, charms and other cute knick knacks(Lots of bow shaped items). The advantage of shopping at this store is obviously the price. You can find loads of earrings at $4 dollars or less. Sometimes they give away pre-packaged surprise grab bags called Fukubukuro that have loads of stuff in it for around 300 Yen(approx. $4). However, you don’t get to choose the items in the grab bags as they are a surprise. It’s definitely worth getting the grab bag as you normally pay around 300 Yen for a single item in the store.
5 Foods you must try at Takeshita Dori
If you are tired of non stop shopping in Takeshita Street, there are plenty of tasty food stops along the street where you can refuel your energy. Sometimes, the overwhelming sweet smell from the Cotton Candy stores can be nauseauting and unappetizing. For a person with a sweet tooth though, this is Heaven!
#1. Ginormous Cotton Candy at Totti Candy Factory
Totti Candy Factory is famous for their huge multicolored cotton candy. Many of you would have already seen photos of this Cotton candy splashed on your Instagram feed. I was very concerned when I bought the cotton candy, first because of its size and also due to the sweetness of Cotton Candy. I didn’t think that I would be able to finish it and would probably end up throwing some of it in the bin. Surprisingly, the candy was very light and not as sweet as I expected. So, I was able to finish the whole thing in minutes.
#2. Crepes with your choice of filling
There are a number of Crepe Shops such as Marion Crepes, Santa Monica Crepes, Angel’s Heart along Takeshita Street. The crepes are rolled up in a cone with your choice of filling in the centre. You can pick your choice of filling from the delicious looking fake-food display on the side of these shops. On busy days, the lines in front of the store can get long but the service is quick.
#3. The crunchy and creamy Croquant Chou Zaku Zaku
Another popular treat to try when you visit Takeshita street is the cream puffs from Croquant Chou Zaku Zaku. These crispy cream puffs are freshly made on the premises and remain fresh only for one day. So, its advisable to consume them immediately or within the same day. They have a crispy sweet coating on the outside made of almonds, egg white, sugar and flour filled with custard cream on the inside. Read a detailed review of these crispy cream puffs here: Appetite For Japan
#4. Chocolate French Fries at Calbee Plus
If you have had enough of the sweet treats and are craving some savory snacks instead, head to Calbee Plus. This store is famous for their freshly prepared potato fries and chips. There’s a selection of toppings to choose from such as salt and butter, chocolate, cheese or even ice cream! There are some seasonal flavors available as well such as vegetable fries.
#5. Omurice at Pompompurin Cafe
Pompompurin is a lovable cartoon dog and everything in this café is dedicated to this Sanrio character.
The interior of the café is very adorable and most people visit the café to experience the café itself rather than taste the food. Everything from Entrees to desserts is decorated to look like Pompompurin or his friends. The cute food is definitely Insta-worthy but the taste is nothing extraordinary.
What do you think of Takeshita Street? Are you ready to go shop and eat?
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Akihabara’s Electric Town is well known for three things – big electronics stores, Anime and Manga themed shops and Maid Cafes. In fact, one of the top touristy things to do when you visit Akihabara in Tokyo, is to visit a Maid Cafe.
What is a Maid Cafe?
A Maid cafe is a cosplay themed cafe, popular in Japan, where the waitstaff are usually young women who are dressed up in a maid costume. The cafes serve ice cream, coffee or entrees. What makes these cafe unique is not just the costume but also the rituals that are part of the service. Anywhere else in the world, the Maid Cafe could seem a bit creepy but they fit right in, in Akihabara’s Electric Town which is all about Otaku and cosplay culture.
Popular Maid Cafes in Akihabara Tokyo
Most Maid Cafe in Tokyo are concentrated in the Electric Town of Akihabara. There are a few in Shibuya and Shinjuku.
What NOT to do in a Maid Cafe?
- Don’t take pictures without permission. If you want to take pictures with the maids, there’s a standard cost on the menu. The picture session is towards the end of your visit
- Don’t touch the maids. Be respectful in your behaviour towards the staff.
- Don’t overstay your visit. To restrict the customers from staying too long, there’s a charge for every hour that you spend at the cafe.
- Don’t ask the cosplay actors private questions or contact details
- If you are drunk, you may not be permitted in the cafe
My Maid Cafe Experience at Maidreamin
As I strolled down the vibrant streets of Electric Town, I noticed many young women dressed up in a maid costumes handing out flyers and beckoning people to visit their cafe. When planning my visit to Japan, I came across these cafes and was very curious to find out what the experience would be like.
I chose Maidreamin, a cafe which serves light meals and desserts. I was ushered into the cafe by a “maid” who informed us that we could only take photos only during photo time. Even though I didn’t immediately understand what she meant by photo time, I nodded and signalled agreement.
Seating Charge – Pay Per Hour
Once inside the maid cafe, the waitress dressed in a maid costume approached us with the menu. She immediately informed us that there is a seating charge. A seating charge is a fixed amount per hour that is added to your bill on top of the charge for the food. In Japan, seating charges are common in many restaurants that are located in tourist locations.
Maid Cafe Menu
There were mainly two options on the menu: a meal set and the dessert set. For the meal set you have the choice of either Omelette Rice (also called Omurice) or Kuma Chan Curry. For the dessert set, you can order a Parfait(strawberry, vanilla, chocolate or matcha) or Cake. Each option comes with a drink of your choice.
You can either order just the food or go for the tourist experience, where you get a free gift and a photo with the maid.
If you like, you can also order a maid show – a performance by the maids with light sabers. If you are interested in dressing up as a maid yourself, there’s that option too.
Maid Cafe Free Gifts and Rituals
The free gifts that came with the Tourist Experience were animal ears that we had to wear in the cafe. My husband reluctantly chose the one with the smallest and the least embarrasing ears. I, of course, went for the opposite – huge bunny ears!
After we wore the animal ears, the maid cafe ritual began. The waitress asked us to repeat a song after her. It went something like “Delicious … Delicious…” followed by some japanese words. We hestitanly mumbled the lyrics back to her. As if singing a song not embarrasing enough, you had to repeat all the weird hand gestures and claps that accompanied the song too.
The icecreams and drinks took some time to arrive. However, when they did arrive, I was delighted. The parfaits had been decorated with animal faces and just like everything in the cafe, they were very cute. My icecream was a duck with a marsh mallow head and my husband’s icecream was a bunny with two cookie ears.
Once again, the waitress began her maid cafe ritual again. We followed suit now a bit used to the absurd ritual. The ice creams tasted as good as they looked. We finished them off with fizzy green melon sodas.
Photos at Maid Cafe
Once we had paid our bill, It was finally photo time! we were led to a small stage area at the back of the cafe. The two maids who had served us took turns taking a photo with me. Of course! I had to pose with ridiculous hand gestures again else it wouldn’t be a maid cafe experience, would it?
At the end of my visit to the Maid Cafe, I left feeling a little silly but with a huge smile on my face, not to mention bunny ears on my head.
What do you think of this maid cafe experience? Will you try it if you visit Japan? Would love to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comments.
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