I only had two goals in coming to Japan.
1. Eat sushi
Japanese sushi is nothing like American grocery store sushi. It’s not imitation crab and avocado wrapped in seaweed and white rice.
It’s a marshmallow size ball of white rice mixed with just a smidgeon of wasabi. On top is slapped some fresh sashimi and various sauces/toppings.
There are dozens of types, the biggest difference being what kind of raw fish is on top. There wasn’t a single one with cooked fish. I went from never having sashimi in my life to having it be a part of my regular diet for 5 days.
I don’t know my fish well enough to know exactly what I was eating. But my favorite was always the light pink ones.
You could buy sushi by the platter, but what’s the fun in that? We preferred the rolling cart sushi places. You walked inside to a round conveyor belt with chefs inside and stools surrounding it. You took a seat and just grabbed whatever pleased your eye. Chefs in the middle were constantly making sushi and refilling the belt.
The price depended on the ingredients and were determined by plate color. Each plate had two sushi and cost between $1-$2. It sounds expensive, but considering an average meal in Tokyo was about $7, you could have 6 rolls for approximately the same cost. And there’s nothing more filling than rice and fish.
When you were finished, you flagged down a chef and he counted your plates and gave you a receipt where you then went and paid the cashier.
But I ate a lot of other food too.
The food within our price range were hole in the wall places filled with stools. You ordered outside via vending machine. As in, you put in your money and pressed the picture. It spit out a receipt and you brought it inside and gave it to a guy. You had your food within minutes.
We also ate at plenty of fusion places.
How do you make Indian food Japanese?
How do you make American food Japanese?
But by far our most interesting experience was at a Maid Cafe in Shinjuku.
Wandering around the city streets, we frequently saw young Japanese women dressed in little maid outfits advertising cafes. Knowing how much I love themed cafes, my desire to go really isn’t that surprising.
A maid cafe is this weird mixture of cute and creepy. You want to squee and groan at the same time.
They make you want to squee because they are decorated like little barbie houses and the girls are in little maid outfits and bring you food that looks like this
The entire meal is a performance, from the electronic candle brought out to your table for wish-making, to the special fry-shaking song.
You pay for certain…services…from special dances to pictures with the maid.
It’s a perfect place for a 5-year-old birthday party. Or for some girls looking for some girl time.
But–girls aren’t the cafe’s main clientele.
No–the majority of customers are middle-aged men.
It’s creepy because the girls are purposely dressed to look 17, and may in fact be 17 I’m not sure, and they are waiting on these middle aged men. One guy was obviously there for a birthday party and he was so happy to have this little sexy girl pouring him a drink. His friends were embarrassed for him.
We left after an hour because you not only pay for your food, but also by the hour. This is what I mean by an “experience.”
I came to Japan only wanting sushi and I got to try a whole lot more.
Great. Now I’m craving sushi.