The smallest eggplant I've ever seen
The smallest eggplant I’ve ever seen

Everyone says Japanese restaurants are expensive, but I’ve found them to be rather reasonable. Of course, I’m also used to Jersey City and Manhattan restaurants. This doesn’t mean I haven’t seen the expensive restaurants here in Tokyo–I don’t go for meals like that unless I have someone to go with or know what I’m ordering.

Don’t ask me where I’ve eaten here in Tokyo–I know what neighborhoods these restaurants are in, but they don’t have English or even Romanized names and I can’t read Japanese. But I have found some interesting little restaurants. Some of the restaurants I’ve been to have meals for less than $10 (most are noodle shops). As I haven’t been here long, I haven’t found anything exceptional, but I have been satisfied with my dining experiences.

The first meal I had was in a very small restaurant near my hotel. I pointed to the pictures on the menu and ended up with gyoza (fried dumplings) and grilled squid. I’ve had gyoza plenty more times because they’re cheap–usually $2-3 for six of them.currysoup

When I wandered in the rain through Shimokitazawa, I stopped in a curry soup restaurant. It was a great choice at about $10 because it was hot and a little spicy for a chilly, rainy day. I liked that they asked for spice level–I chose 8 because I wasn’t sure what their levels were; next time I’d probably go with 10 or more (yes, their spice level goes above 10, just like Spinal Tap’s volume).seafoodpancake

On my first visit to Machida, which is three train stops away, I ate at a yakitori and sushi restaurant. The atmosphere was great–they even have some cool shoe lockers with odd wood keys. I’m not sure what I ordered, but I had some grilled asparagus wrapped with fish and a seafood pancake that had some large chunks of shrimp and squid. It was good, but I probably should’ve ordered more.

How could I turn away from such a sign?
How could I turn away from such a sign?

While hiking Mt. Takao last weekend, I stopped to try Devil’s Tongue. It’s some sort of glutinous sesame snack that’s cooked over charcoal and covered with a bit of what I think is teriyaki.

Devil's Tongue is cooking
Devil’s Tongue is cooking

Anthony Bourdain also posted on his Twitter that Lawson has some oddly wonderful egg salad sandwich. Of course, when I visited the Lawson store around the corner they didn’t have any for me to try. I’ll go with the theory that Bourdain is just tormenting me with a sandwich that no longer exists.

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