culinary tour in Japan

A culinary tour in Japan: Kaiseki, Kobe beef, sushi making and all the good things you can imagine

Reader Mail: Hi Trisha! I love love love your Japan food stories on Instagram! I really want to try them all! I know you went on a culinary tour in Japan last year but couldn’t find the content on your blog. I also want to do the same instead of seeing popular sights in Japan. I know it will cost a lot so I am willingly saving for it! Can you recommend some places you did on your Japan culinary tour? Thank you for always providing great content! We love you here in Marikina!

Anne Marie Rodriguez, Philippines

Dear Anne,

Thank you so much for reaching out! And thank you for watching my Japan food stories on Instagram! I still want to add a lot but there’s a video limit on Instagram story highlights. I’d write about them all, soon!

Anyway, here are the top places I visited on my culinary tour in Japan. I know that they are expensive but these days, people are not willing to spend on food as you can find equally good food in Japan for less. In these Japan culinary experiences, you will learn how the Japanese are fans of fresh ingredients collected daily. A culinary activity in Japan is definitely a must!

I am glad you decided to travel for food and that you find paying for food a good investment when visiting another country. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll definitely hook you up!

I love eating in Japan with all my heart. I mean, who doesn’t? I hope you’ll love it, too!

Xx,
Trisha

Culinary Tour in Japan #1

Japan Guenpin Fugu Restaurant Tasting

culinary tour in Japan

This restaurant has branches in Tokyo, Kansai, Hokkaido, and Okinawa.

Fugu means pufferfish. And in Japan, this is the most famous delicacy. According to Business Insider, the Japanese eat 10,000 tons of fugu each year! Pufferfish is also known to be poisonous so the Japanese government is very strict in allowing/giving permits to restaurants to sell this. In order to prepare a puffer fish delicacy, chefs undergo years of training! Thankfully, that’s what they do at Japan Guenpin Fugu Restaurant in Tokyo. I was given a tasting menu on this tour with choices as sashimi, deep-fried, or barbecued (of course, I did them all.) The following set menu are available for this Japan culinary tour:

  • Guen set menu: pufferfish skin sashimi, pufferfish hotpot, Japanese rice porridge, and dessert. 
  • Daigo set menu: parboiled pufferfish skin sashimi, pufferfish sashimi, pufferfish hotpot, deep fried pufferfish meat, Japanese rice porridge, and dessert.
  • Tenraku set menu: parboiled pufferfish skin sashimi, pufferfish sashimi, pufferfish hotpot, pufferfish barbecue, Japanese rice porridge, and dessert.
Culinary Tour in Japan #2

Fine Dining in Japan: Kashiwaya, Osaka (3 Michelin stars)

culinary tour in Japan

Osaka is known to be the cuisine capital of Japan where authenticity is its number one branding. Kashiwaya’s menu is changed each month and Chef Hideaki Matsuo will also gladly create bespoke menus and private dinners on request for special occasions. This restaurant is a Ryōtei restaurant, a type of luxurious traditional Japanese restaurant that you can find in the outskirts of Osaka. Kashiwaya is known for serving Japanese food in a Sukiya style dining room, Japan’s traditional format for tea ceremonies. This tour offers 2 set meals (The Bamboo Meal and the Orchid Meal) but can change depending on the season. Remember that this restaurant changes its menu quite often! Each set includes a selection of appetizers, soup, sashimi platter, side dishes, BBQ, salad, steamed vegetables, main dish, selection of fresh fruits, and dessert.

Culinary Tour in Japan #3

Tasty Wagyu beef of Yakiniku Toraji Restaurant in Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka

culinary tour in Japan

Now everyone, listen up. If you are not familiar with Wagyu beef, let me tell you two things: (1) it’s expensive. (2) it’s worth every cent of your Japan travel budget! Yakiniku Toraji is a Korean-Japanese fusion restaurant so you can imagine the beef overload this culinary tour in Japan contains. In this tour, you will get to experience a candlelit dinner overlooking Tokyo Bay or Tokyo SkyTree. That is if you choose to do this tour in Tokyo. Yakiniku Toraji Beef restaurant has five branches in Tokyo, Kyoto, or Osaka. Prime meats such as Toraji beef tongue, a type of beef that melts in your mouth. Unique desserts like green tea and wasabi sorbets are also in the menu!

Culinary Tour in Japan #4

All-You-Can-Eat Yakiniku at Yakiniku-Tei Rokkasen Restaurant in Tokyo

culinary tour in Japan

When talking about Japanese food, you will come across Yakiniku, a Japanese term that means ‘grilled meat.’ It’s pretty similar to those unlimited beef Korean bbq that you and your family are addicted to every Sunday. This is one of my favorite culinary tours in Japan and is definitely a must add to your Tokyo itinerary!I’ve been to this place twice: one on my own and one on a tour. Rokkasen is a high-end restaurant that has bagged certificate of excellence awards 4 years in a row. This is the place where you can enjoy high-quality Japanese BBQ and a wide selection of all-you-can-eat options. This place is really busy and popular so make sure to book your tour before coming to Japan!

Culinary Tour in Japan #5

Hokkaido Himeshara Sushi Restaurant Dining Experience

culinary tour in Japan

You can simply search ‘how to make sushi’ videos on Youtube but doing it in Japan has the possibility of learning a more intricate Japanese technique. Himeshara Sushi Restaurant is ranked third in Tokyo Table Trip’s 10 best sushi restaurants in Hokkaido so you can see why this is a good place for sushi making. In this activity, you will get to try premium selected sushi meals with the best quality ingredients!

Culinary Tour in Japan #6

Osaka Kobe Aburi Bokujou

culinary tour in Japan

Now that you know about Wagyu, I should introduce you to another Japanese-melts-in-your-mouth-meat called Kobe, a type of Wagyu from the Tajima strain of a Japanese Black cattle. Kobe is also a place in Japan where I got to taste the same kind of wagyu. But if you don’t have time to swing by Kobe (there’s nothing there, really. Just the food.), you can definitely do this culinary tour in Aburi Bokujou, with three convenient locations: the Main Restaurant, Hankyu Higashidori, and Kita (Umeda). As expected, Aburi Bokujou serves fresh, high-quality, and pasture-raised Kobe beef in Osaka. In Japan, this type of beef is usually used for famous Japanese delights like teppanyaki, steak, sukiyaki, shabu-shabu, and sashimi. This tour has selections of Luxury Kobe Beef Sanmei Dinner Package, a Korean-style side dish platter, premium Kobe beef tenderloin, and grilled vegetable platter valued at $66 USD per person. The Kobe Dinner Package starts at $51 USD has Japanese black wagyu beef with yuzukosho sauce, beef Nigiri sushi, and stir-fried noodles. Finally, the Aburi Ranch Dinner Package (starts at $40 USD) comes with an assorted Japanese black wagyu beef and seafood platter.

Culinary Tour in Japan #7

Isomaru Suisan Seafood Izakaya

culinary tour in Japan

Izakaya is another Japanese cuisine term that we all should learn. In fact, Izakaya is my favorite type of dining when I am out with friends in Tokyo! It’s too common you probably did it in Japan without being aware of what it means. Izakaya is a type of Japanese bar where inexpensive and small dishes/snacks are served to accompany your drinks order. In the Philippines, we call this pica-pica or pulutan but the Japanese-style is way fancier and fresher. In Tokyo, Izakaya bars are everywhere, especially in Shinjuku. In this Izakaya culinary tour in Japan, you may find it a bit different because you will find yourself surrounded by an interior reminiscent of a Japanese beachfront house, filled with vibrant splashes of color from the signs and the flags traditionally flown from Japanese fishing boats. The Standard Set for a course is very popular (as this is hat I ordered, too). It consists of fresh seafood (sashimi, crab, and scallops) while the Upgrade Set for a taste of pork, chicken, and abalone. Don’t forget to order sake! It’s perfect with this set!

Culinary Tour in Japan #8

Unlimited desserts at Salon de Sweets

culinary tour in Japan

You’ve probably seen this spot with a long queue near the Skytree tower. Introducing Salon de Sweets in Tokyo – the first ever unlimited desserts I have ever tried in my life! It’s literally a dessert buffet! Here, you will find more than 30 kinds of desserts, with variations of how food, salad bar, soft drinks bar, etc. Space is really cozy and so Japanese it will make you sit there all day! I am not sure if ny of you fancy a $30 USD unlimited sweets thing but I am sure many people do. To avoid long lines and get a fast lane pass, purchase your tickets with KKday in the link below.

Culinary Tour in Japan #9

Kaiseki Meal Set at Osaka Umeda Nihonryori Kawakyu Restaurant

culinary tour in Japan

Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. The preparation of Kaiseki is based on the fresh produce of the season in Japan so the menu is very varied and experiential. Nihonryori Kawakyu Restaurant is one of the best places to have it as they have traditional Japanese rooms located on the 33rd floor of the Osaka Ekimae Dai-3 building. Now that’s a fantastic view for a $55 USD Kaiseki meal! In this tour, you can choose from 3 different meal sets: Kawakyu Meal Set ($56 USD), Deluxe Kawakyu Meal Set ($73 USD) and Shabu-Shabu Meal Set ($80 USD). All of these set menus include an aperitif, starters, sashimi platter, stewed vegetables, a grilled dish, a fried dish, soup, rice, seasonal pickled vegetables, and dessert.

Culinary Tour in Japan #10

Edo-style sushi at Roppongi Umi Japanese Restaurant in Tokyo

culinary tour in Japan

Edo-style sushi is a combination of fresh raw fish and cooked rice seasoned with vinegar. Edo is the former name of Tokyo and during the Edo period from 1603-1868, people were known as businessmen, hence, they have a very busy lifestyle. In this period, the fast-food business boomed creating other famous foods such as edomae tempura, edomae soba, and edomae unagi. Edo style cuisine is saltier and sweeter compared to other Japanese cuisines. At Umi Restaurant, the edo-style sushi is so authentic that you will get to sit at the bar and watch the show. In this tour, get to indulge on premium beef cooked in wine, juicu shrimp, and even sea urchin! Hot tea and assorted desserts will also be served. The courses are not fixed as there’s always a “chef recommends” menu. Surprise yourself at Umi!

Culinary Tour in Japan #11

Sukiyaki and Shabu-shabu Fujio Restaurant in Osaka

culinary tour in Japan

Sukiyaki and Shabu-shabu are both famous Japanese dishes prepared in hot pot style. Thinly sliced beef is usually cooked at the table (like Korean barbecue) and is normally accompanied by vegetables. In this tour, you will get more A4 grade Wagyu beef but cooked in Shabu-shabu/sukiyaki style. There will be three types of appetizers for whatever menu you choose but I chose the shabu-shabu set simply because it’s my favorite even if I’m not in Japan!

Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. Trisha is an ambassador of Girl Rising, a global movement for girls' education and empowerment. In no particular order, her favourite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong and Tel Aviv. Follow her life adventures on Instagram: @psimonmyway

Comments

  • Danik
    October 6, 2019

    Never done a culinary tour before but this one does look interesting. But I am not sure if I can stomach a lot of cold meats, I prefer them cooked and hot. The deserts defo looks yummy and would fancy some of that right now. However, not a huge fan of seafood. I havent been to Japan yet but I know when I get there, I got to try and change my mental state about seafood as I know there is a lot of it out there.

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  • Patricia
    October 7, 2019

    I’ll admit that I’m not a seafood fan, but it looks like your culinary tour revealed some yummy food options that I’d love (and my husband will try almost anything)! I’d definitely be on board for those desserts, and the wagyu at Yakiniku Toraji Restaurant sounds like a must!

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  • Andi
    October 7, 2019

    I love Japan and Japanese food, frankly, I would go there just for the food. I dream of spending a year there exploring all the different regions but you get the best of everything when you visit Tokyo or Osaka!

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  • Rosemary
    October 8, 2019

    I am all over this delicious post. Wow and yum!! Japan is my dream destination for food and I just can’t wait to visit. I am most tempted by the Kaiseki and I can’t wait to dig into Kobe beef from the country of origin. This is one amazing culinary tour that I hope to replicate soon.

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  • Nisha
    October 8, 2019

    It is always so much attending and participating in a cooking class and cooking your own food. I have done it in a few countries and it teaches you a lot.
    Preparing Sushi must have been fun. And I knew of Kobe as a place, not meat. Information comes in many ways. 🙂

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  • Hannah
    October 8, 2019

    I would love to eat proper wagyu beef at Yakiniku Toraji Restaurant – all that marbling must make it so tender and delicious! I haven’t had a decent hot pot in so long, so I would love to have shabu-shabu at Fujio Restaurant!

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  • vanessa workman
    October 9, 2019

    I didn’t know fish with rice was called ‘Edo-style sushi’. I have always just called it sushi, and I also didn’t know there was an ‘Edo’ period! Learn something new every day. 😀 I’m a huge fan of all Japanese food but I do lean towards ‘Endo style’ sushi and sashimi. I would absolutely love to take a Culinary Tour in Japan… #bucketlist

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  • Adonis Villanueva
    October 9, 2019

    Your food pictures are making me hungry. It looks so beautiful and delicious. You should be charging these restaurants a few bucks or getting a few free meals for showcasing their cuisine! Have you tried Chanko-Nabe? It’s like Shabu-Shabu but made for Sumo wrestlers 🙂 I had it in Nagano Prefecture.

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