Like Asian Foods? Come to Japan!
When it comes to Japanese food, it's usually associated with sushi, ramen and tempura, but that's not all! As a lover of Japanese cuisine, this exchange program was a real treat. In this article, let me introduce how to find delicious and cheap Japanese food as an exchange student.
Contrary to my impression, not all Japanese people eat sushi for every meal. The price of sushi is on the high side among food, and sometimes 1000 yen ($10 USD) is not always enough.
But if you really want to try it, go to a “conveyor belt sushi” restaurant and get your favorite sushi off the conveyor belt. And the price of the sushi depends on the amount and color of your plate. My personal favorite is Tamago Sushi (Egg Roll).
Ramen is synonymous with Japanese cuisine. Originally, chicken bones were used as a base for soup, but in recent years, beef, pork and even seafood have been used, which has led to a growing variety of flavors. In addition to the traditional salt, Tonkutsu, soy, and miso flavored ramen, now curry-flavored broth has come out.
Every ramen shop in Japan has a ticket machine. You pick the flavor and toppings you want, give the ticket to the staff and enjoy the ramen. Typically, the staff will also ask about the strength of your soup and the hardness of your noodles. Some ramen shop will provide “つけ麺 (tsukemen)”, where you will dip the noodles into the soup to eat.
The picture below is the curry tsukemen. The noodles are cold but the soup is hot, so you can decide the way you like to eat it. The other picture is from Gogona ramen near Rikkyo University. You can have a big bowl of ramen and a drink for around 1000 yen ($10 USD).
"牛丼" (Gyudon) is a large bowl of white rice topped with slices of cooked beef. It is the Japanese food I eat the most and the restaurant I go to the most to eat gyudon is called "Yoshinoya". You can get a big bowl for around 600 yen ($6 USD). Typically, Japanese will buy a raw egg and mix it with the rice. The fragrance of beef and yolk, ah smells tasty! 丼 (Donburi: a rice bowl dish) is also a popular lunch choice for Japanese college students. Personally, I like curry pork chop rice the best. If you like the meal full with meat, go to “Katsuya” near Ikebukuro station and order their Donburi. You will like it!
Also, as a Rikkyo student, the place you will go to visit the most will be the canteen of Rikkyo University. The school canteen offers a variety of pre-made meals, ramen noodles and foreign dishes, along with the day’s special. The price is usually around 500 yen ($5 USD). You can add 100 yen ($1 USD) to add more portion. The cafeteria has the feeling of a western church and it is very beautiful. The downside is that there are so many students at lunch time, so sometimes it’s hard to find a seat. A Japanese friend of mine told me that's why people like to go to the convenience store for lunch.
Of course, although the food served in the restaurants are delicious, the taste of home is always the best. There is a kitchen under our dormitory building for everyone to share. People often share their country's food with each other and talk about the funny things that happened that day.
Japanese food always surprises me. Small savory snack dishes like たこ焼き(Takoyaki) and おでん (Oden) can warm your heart in the winter season and sweet snacks like 鯛焼き (Taiyaki) can bring you a good mood all day. And Izakaya can provide you a good place for evening dining. Even though I stayed in Tokyo for 4 months, I can still be surprised by all of the food, so if you want to try Asian food, Japanese food will not let you down!