We’ve already established that Japan has some of the best food, well, EVER as evinced by our multitude of food-centric blog posts (we did see some traditional cultural sights too, those posts are to come, promise). Nevertheless, we wanted to stress that all this spectacular saliva stimulating goodness can be found almost anywhere and at any price — one just needs to know where to look.
The first of this two part series will highlight one of the best secrets (well, it was a mystery to us) of finding the meal that hits the spot without completely burning the budget. At the base of the all consuming world of Japanese shopping malls — tall, multi-floored structures that house innumerable designers, fabrics of every color and pattern, shoes almost too pretty (and dreadfully uncomfortable) to wear — lie basements filled with aisles and aisles of food stands!!
Have a craving? It’s pretty sure to be satisfied in this underground marketplace with a selection of everything from international treats like pirozhki and baumkuchen to more traditional Japanese fare like gyoza, fresh mochi and deep fried croquettes/calamari/chicken katsu/anything that can be breaded and dunked in oil. For the health conscious, there was even the ubiquitous smoothie bar and salad station.
The service is impeccable and an unceasing harmony of irasshaimase welcomed us as we walked from one stand to another. This can get a bit irksome since the workers almost start sounding eerily robotic, but this is just one example of the politeness exhibited by retail staff and we later learned that the staff practice these greetings every morning, repeating them after a recording. No wonder.
On one of our first days in Tokyo, we made the amateur mistake of dining at one of the restaurants on the top floors of the mall — the sit-down, waiter style spots. We wish we knew that a trip to the bottom of the escalator belt would give us what seemed like endless possibilities to munch, crunch, and slurp to our stomach’s content!
Every time we would step onto this floor we’d look at each other with the same mix of delight and bewilderment, uttering almost simultaneously, what do we do? (#flashpackerproblems)
Keeping our slowly widening waistlines in mind, we would usually do a quick loop and then share a bunch of smaller items from a handful of stores, until we’ve had our fill…or more realistically, when our muffin tops were next on the menu.