A culinary tour in Japan: Kaiseki, Kobe beef, sushi making and all the good things you can imagine
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!
Japan Guenpin Fugu Restaurant Tasting
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.
Fine Dining in Japan: Kashiwaya, Osaka (3 Michelin stars)
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.
Tasty Wagyu beef of Yakiniku Toraji Restaurant in Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka
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!
All-You-Can-Eat Yakiniku at Yakiniku-Tei Rokkasen Restaurant in Tokyo
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!
Hokkaido Himeshara Sushi Restaurant Dining Experience
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!
Osaka Kobe Aburi Bokujou
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.
Isomaru Suisan Seafood Izakaya
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!
Unlimited desserts at Salon de Sweets
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.
Kaiseki Meal Set at Osaka Umeda Nihonryori Kawakyu Restaurant
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.
Edo-style sushi at Roppongi Umi Japanese Restaurant in Tokyo
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!
Sukiyaki and Shabu-shabu Fujio Restaurant in Osaka
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!