One of my requests for food in Japan was tonkotsu ramen, a noodle soup with broth made from pork bones. Aunty and her husband took me to a small ramen shop on the outskirts of Tokyo.
When I say small, I mean small. The little shop consists of a kitchen area and a bar where diners sit. The hustle and bustle of the kitchen in such an enclosed space made for a lively, fast-paced environment. This is the kind of place where you might pop in for lunch alone on a break from work, maybe bringing a friend for a quick meal. Because it can’t seat many people at once, there was a little bit of a waiting time, and we had to wait outside, hungrily watching the current diners through the steamy sliding glass door.
We finally got seated, and I was surprised at just how small this place was. Like the sushi-go-round I went to the previous day, you were literally sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with the stranger next to you. Compared to America, everything is so tiny in Japan – the streets, cars, seats, people…
My ramen was so delicious! I mean, I think the above picture says all.
After the meal, you place your dirty dishes on the counter so that the kitchen staff can retrieve it without going to the other side of the counter (which actually involves leaving the building through the kitchen and re-entering through the front door. What a bother!).
But that’s not all. That night, we went to eat at a yakitori restaurant in Shinjuku. That’s right, this is two food posts in one. Lucky you!
The place we went to was like a little bar in an alleyway. We ordered several different types of yakitori (skewered chicken, sometimes other meat too). Each skewer was small but surprisingly filling.
I like to think that the best way to understand a culture is through food, and eating at a Japanese ramen shop and yakitori bar were interesting glimpses into the Japanese lifestyle 🙂