I came to Tokyo with less than $500 for my allowance. The money was also used for transport, accommodation and food. In short, I have to be wise in spending my money or else, I’ll end up with nothing.
I could go busking, but unfortunately I have no talent in playing musical instruments nor have a voice that is beautiful or even decent enough to be heard by people. So, the adaptation of ultra-super saving mode was essential.
I pretended to be a thrifty ninja. However, a thrifty ninja also needs to eat. Thankfully, food stalls and Japanese fast foods abound in the streets of Nagoya and Tokyo.
A favorite was dango, a Japanese dumpling made of rice flour. The best was Mitarashi dango, a dango covered with syrup made from soy sauce, starch and sugar. I don’t consider it as a dessert because it was a bit savory for me. The combination of the saltiness, sweetness and texture makes such a unique melting flavor in the mouth. It’s also cheap.
Kakigori or shaved ice covered with syrup was also good. It was summer when I went to Japan. Kakigori was comfort against the heat. With that kind of heat I also wanted to ask for extra cup of shaved ice to dump it in my head. Of course, I did not to that. I don’t want them to think I’m strange plus I wanted to make an impression of a well-behaved traveler.
Taiyaki was also a delight to eat and look at. It is a fish shaped pastry filled with hot filling such as chocolate, custard or red bean paste. The pastry is designed intricately that it made me feel bad eating it.
Another comfort food against the summer heat was the matcha cone or green tea cone. If you think that it is a mere vanilla ice cream with just faint flavor of matcha, then you are wrong. There was a very full flavor of the green tea present in the ice cream. I like it but some of my friends did not like it as they considered the flavor to be too strong.
One of the guilty pleasures I had in Japan was Japanese curry. In my opinion, the Japanese offers the best curry. The curry has a simple but very flavorful taste, especially good paired with a serving of steaming white rice.
Coco Ichibanya offers a variety of curry dishes at an affordable price. Aside from selecting their desired curry base, customers can also modify the amount of rice, spice level and the toppings of the curry based on their preference. The spice levels can be determined using the scale of hotness from one to ten.
Small restaurants can also be found near the train stations. Here is a restaurant which serves really good miso-katsu. I had a combo of miso-katsu, tempura and rice for $11. You should not miss miso-katsu when you are in Nagoya.
Miso-katsu are breaded and deep fried pork cutlets covered with tangy, hatcho miso (red miso paste) sauce served with cabbage and white rice. The red miso paste is made from steamed soy beans, which can be fermented up to three years. This was one of the best dishes I had in Japan, I had a miso-katsu hangover even when I went back in Melbourne. The sauce is so rich and has that umami flavor exploding in your mouth as you bite into it. They say the flavor can be overpowering to first-timers but that is just nonsense as this dish was ridiculously good.
Japan is an expensive country to visit but when it comes to food, you can easily manage with at least $30 per day. Whether you prefer noodles, rice dishes or sushi, small and inexpensive eateries abound in the area.You just have to look around, there are menus outside that have photos so even if you cannot speak Japanese, these photos can give you hints.