FOOD in Taito
Taito has long been a popular destination for Japanese visitors, making it a great area to try Japanese food, including many Tokyo and Kanto-style favorites. Some of the restaurants here are over 100 years old and the best ones often specialize in just one type of food. If you like seafood, try a sushi, tempura, unagi (eel), or dojo (loach) restaurant. For meat dishes go to a "tonkatsu", "yakiniku", or "sukiyaki" specialist. Try soba noodles and ramen. If you want to take a slow break, go to a Japanese café or have some Japanese sweets. Many international visitors come to Taito and now the area has the most restaurants in Tokyo that are certified halal (see shop list and map here).
"Kawaii" means cute. Old-fashioned "kissaten" and modern cafés in Japanese design serve kawaii sweets like carefully arranged parfaits, pancakes, "kakigori" ice, chiffon cake, pudding, and matcha ice. Many cafés have their own style and menu. You can find places that make cute coffee art and sweets shaped like pandas or cats.
In Japanese, "sake" refers to alcohol in general and Japanese sake is called "nihonshu". At specialty shops you can sample different types from all over Japan and try cold and warm sake. Ask the staff for their recommendations and try a few types.
Tokyo is famous for “nigiri sushi” with the fish placed on a small piece of sushi rice called "shari". Order your favorite seafood a la carte, have a sushi set, or let the sushi chef make a selection of the best seasonal fish for you in an "omakase" course.
Many Japanese ramen shops specialize in a certain style of ramen following their own recipes. Try the basic types: "shoyu" (soy sauce), "shio" (salt), miso, and "tonkotsu" (pork). Some shops serve ramen in a regional style, for example Hakata ramen, and you can try them without having to leave Tokyo.
Specialty restaurants serve it as "dojo-jiru" with miso, "yanagawa-nabe" with egg and burdock root, or "dojo-nabe". This is the fish cooked in dashi broth and topped with sliced green onions. Dojo is so soft that you can eat it whole.
Tempura is deep-fried shrimp, fish, or vegetable in a very light and crispy batter. It is served fresh and hot with a dipping sauce or salt. Try a set with rice served separately or order "tendon", several pieces of tempura served on a bowl of rice.
Soba noodles are made with buckwheat flower. Try the different hot and cold versions. The noodles are served in broth or with a more intense separate dipping sauce. Watch the chef make fresh soba noodles while you wait for your order at a specialty restaurant.
In the typical "kabayaki" style "unagi" (eel) is broiled on a charcoal grill with sauce and served on rice. Traditional restaurants that specialize in eel are called "unagi-ya". You can often smell the eel being grilled before you see the actual restaurant that prepares it.
Yakitori is chicken grilled on skewers over charcoal. Different kinds of meat such as thigh, breast, liver, or "tsukune" chicken meatballs are prepared in bite-size pieces. "Yakitori-ya" restaurants prepare them in different flavors like "shio" (salt) or "tare" (sauce). Beer and yakitori is a very popular combination
Yakiniku is Japanese for grilled meat. It is best at specialized restaurants where you have a gas or charcoal grill at your table. Yakiniku is usually beef, but pork, chicken, vegetables, and seafood are also served. You can choose from many different cuts of meat.
"Tonkatsu" is deep-fried pork coated in crispy breadcrumbs. It is often served with sliced raw cabbage, rice, and miso soup. "Katsudon" with the meat served on a bowl of rice is also popular. At specialty restaurants you can choose different flavors and cuts of meat..
Kanto-style "sukiyaki" served in Tokyo is usually cooked directly at the table in a soy sauce broth. Watch the thin slices of beef being prepared with vegetables, tofu, and "shirataki" noodles. The hot meat is dipped into beaten raw egg before eating.
Yoshoku is a style of Japanese cuisine that was inspired by mostly western influences in the late 19th century. For many it is nostalgic comfort food and includes now typical Japanese dishes such as hayashi rice, curry rice, crab cream croquettes, hamburg steak, ebi fry shrimp, and Napolitan pasta.
"Monjayaki" is a typical Tokyo dish made with seafood, meat, or vegetables. Cook the mixture of chopped ingredients and batter at your table on a hot "teppan" iron plate. Then eat the gooey "monja" directly from the grill with a small monja spatula.