A Critique of Japanese Cuisine

It’s not all sushi and tea. Actually we only ever had sushi once during my whole three weeks in Japan. While they do love their fresh seafood, there’s a million other dishes to tickle your fancy in Japan:

Ramen, the other most renowned and internationally recognised of them all. You can never go wrong with noodles. Ramen is the thin style noodles in a nice hot broth -so great for the middle of winter. But that’s not all Japan has on offer. There’s also your udon and soba noodles, a different noodle style with other serving preferences. But ramen was our go-to and the one we found on every corner. Each place is going to add their own tang to the meal, but they give you the overall gist -a nice thick broth flavoured with a salty egg and the oils of the meat. And the best decision I’ve ever made was adding a whole egg to the dish.
On the JS scale: 8/10
On the Tina scale: 7/10 
It’s a good meal but not something that will blow your mind. But Inchiran was definitely a 10/10.

The first Okonomiyaki I ate was in Hiroshima, which has its own unique style. Okonomiyaki itself refers to a pancake with cabbage and a bunch of other ingredients. The specialty with the Hiroshima style is the pancake “base” is made of noodles, making it a very filling meal. The rest of Japan serves Okonomiyaki with a more traditional pancake base of flour and eggs, still quite a filling meal. But the fun of the dish is that you can cook it yourself! So this means you can add exactly what you want. Actually that’s where the name comes from, Okonomi means ‘what you like’, while yaki refers to the grill that you’re cooking it on.
On the JS scale: 9/10
On the Tina scale: 10/10 
“Beware of the Hiroshima style Okonimayaki, but when you could make it yourself that was definitely the best.”

 Takoyaki Balls are a great bite sized snack filled with delicious octopus gooeyness. We found both hard and soft balls, where the outer-coating was either crispy or soft. I really liked both versions, as either way you’ll be left with a mouth full of flavour.
On the JS scale: 8/10
On the Tina scale: 6/10
but when they’re fried on the outside it’s a solid 10/10.

Sushi. Well I can’t completely ignore this renowned dish. But I don’t actually have that much to say about it. It didn’t taste any better or worse to anything I’ve eaten before. All I’ll say is, good job Japan for inventing these nifty seafood and rice combinations.
On the JS scale: 7/10
On the Tina scale:
 6/10 “Nothing impressed me too much. Pretty much the same as Sydney.”

Japanese BBQ. This one gets a mention because Tina absolutely loved the beef. Personally it was nothing too special. Thinking back to the night we ate it, I can honestly barely remember what it was like. So really it was just an average meal with good variety.
On the JS scale: 6/10
On the Tina scale: 9/10 “Best beef I’ve had.”

By Curry, I’m referring specifically to Coco Curry, the curry franchise that take their spice seriously. The beauty about the order is you can choose your heat level. I opted with level 3 for my first dish, which was just a tad too hot. So now imagine level 10! They do advise to try no more than level 5 on your first go and work your way up. I do enjoy spice, but not if it overpowers the flavour. With Coco Curry you’ll get a very peppery spice with your rice and meat so if you’re opting for a high level you’ll be left mostly with the taste of pepper.
On the JS scale: 8/10 – an extra point because I won a spoon. 
On the Tina scale: 8/10
 “Good, just large portions, although it was good that it was customizable.”

Yakitori aka skewers. Honestly there’s nothing too special about the food itself, I was more in awe of the places we ate them in. When we were in Tokyo we went inside the, narrowest, cosiest eateries I have ever seen. Squished in next to each other we are surrounded by the smell of the cooking meat and the warmth from the stove that makes for a great escape in the middle of winter.
On the JS scale: 5/10
On the Tina scale: 5/10
 “Most of them were pretty dry. But the ones we ate in Shinjuku with liver and heart I would give it a solid 8 as they were good for offal.”

Shabu shabu. After a couple of days of 7/11 food and fried snacks, this Japanese hot pot was a well needed meal. Since we had a buffet it was definitely filling, but it didn’t leave you feeling fat but rather full with healthy goodness.
On the JS scale: 9/10
On the Tina scale: 10/10 
“Simple food done well.”

Mochi Balls were my life in Japan. I had at least one a day.. probably more like four of them over the day. They just had the perfect soft texture, the perfect amount of sweetness and the perfect touch to finish off your meal. My favourite flavour was strawberry with red bean paste.
On the JS scale: 10/10
On the Tina scale: 10/10 
“Ten for texture, ten for flavour because everyone I had was sweet. Always just good and reliable.”

Dango. Actually quite an unusual desert per say. The flavour is quite strange, but not too strong to be overbearing. Texture wise it’s like an off mochi ball, while flavour wise I can’t quite put my finger on it. I do think it is rather creative how the Japanese managed to use soy sauce for a sweet snack.
On the JS scale: 6/10
On the Tina scale: 7/10 
“I think that play on salty sweet is a little strange to me.. I just like sweet.”

Cremia, one of the best ice creams I’ve eaten. The flavour falls between eating cream and eating ice cream. It’s so smooth it just oozes into your mouth, seeping into all the right places in your taste buds.
On the JS scale: 9/10
On the Tina scale: 9/10 “One point off because it was realllyyy creamy.”

Jiggly Pancakes. We waited over an hour for these pancakes to arrive.. so they had to be amazing right? Well they were good, just not AS amazing as expected. They tasted really light (unless that was just the perception the wiggly-ness of the pancake gave away) and as a dessert added a pleasant sweet touch to finish off the meal.
On the JS scale: 7/10
On the Tina scale: 7/10 “They taste like egg.”


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