This is a gallery of some of the meals, snacks, and drinks I enjoyed on my eight-day trip to Japan.
Grocery and convenience store meals
Taking trips to the grocery store in favor of buying meals at restaurants can save you a good amount of money. The Fresca a few blocks from the hostel in Kyoto had a big selection of onigiri (rice balls), some for as low as 100 yen. I bought one with salmon flakes filling and paired it with gyoza (dumplings). Pictured here is only half of the pack of gyoza. I put aside the other half for another meal.
Family Mart carries a wide variety of ready-to-eat meals. This one is perfect for someone who can’t (or doesn’t want to) choose what to eat. It has four rice balls wrapped in strips of nori (seaweed), half a boiled egg, a dumpling, a small sausage, a beef patty, and some tonkatsu (breaded pork) on top of a little serving of pasta in red sauce.
On another occasion, I got a hearty serving of teriyaki, white rice with sesame seeds, and a small side of potatoes and pasta. I pushed it all down with milk tea, also purchased at Family Mart.
The streets of Dotonbori are lined with food stalls, offering everything from barbecue to seafood to desserts. The takoyaki came highly recommended, and every Asian knows that a long line means good food, so I joined the queue. This takoyaki stall was attached to a tiny restaurant where you could take your order inside, sit down, and order a drink. I did exactly that – for the full experience, and because my feet hurt from walking all day. The takoyaki was savory, smothered in sauce and mayonnaise, and piping hot.
In between cities, carrying my huge backpack and small every day bag, I didn’t want to be bothered to go far off-route to eat lunch. I checked out of the Osaka hostel and stopped at a McDonald’s near the train station. I can get McDonald’s just about anywhere, so I thought I should at least try something specific to McDonald’s in Japan. I got an eguchi or egg cheeseburger, which is exactly what it sounds like – a cheeseburger with a fried egg in the middle.
Drinks from cafes
The tickets I nabbed from a seat sale happened to be for early August, right in the middle of summer, so I carried my water tumbler everywhere yet still wanted to buy more cold drinks throughout the day. In between the Osaka Castle Park and Kuchu Teien Observatory, I stopped for a matcha frappe at Starbucks. The barista and I had a miscommunication and she rang up a Grande instead of a Tall. I decided to just go with it. The extra couple of ounces weren’t a problem. I often order green tea based drinks at home, but the matcha in Japan is different, especially when it comes from Uji, a tiny city known as the best place for growing tea in the whole country.
Tully’s Coffee is a chain of coffee shops that originated in Seattle, Washington. Since opening in 1992, they’ve opened branches all over the world, including in Kyoto. Their Japanese branches offer flavored slushy drinks with soft-serve ice cream on top. This one is milk tea-flavored slush with matcha soft-serve.
Ichiran is famous around the world for their high-quality ramen. They’re also known for their unique solo dining style. After you place your order at a machine and take the ticket it produces, you’ll be seated at a long table with dividers in between each place and a curtain in front of you. They call this the “Ramen Focus Booth”. I opted for the “Ichiran Select 5”, which includes their regular ramen, a soft boiled egg, kikurage (mushrooms), nori sheets, and Char-siu pork.
After a fun but exhausting morning exploring temples and being chased down by hungry deer at Nara Park, I headed back to the Kyoto Station. I only had two more days in Japan by then, so I wanted to splurge a little. I found a restaurant in Eat Paradise with a short line and ordered one of their lunch specials: beef gyudon and a few slices of steak on a bed of rice. It was served with some vegetables and a little cup of soup on the side.
Amid many Google searches and recommendations from friends, my last dinner in Japan ended up being a random find. I was walking back to the hostel from the bus stop one day and the Yayoi Teishoku menu display caught my eye. The sashimi looked so good that I decided to come back before leaving. Like Ichiran’s, their menu is automated. I pressed the button for the tuna sashimi bowl set. The screen showed that I had a little extra money, so I also ordered tamagoyaki (rolled omelette). This ended up being one of my favorite meals in my whole trip – a sweet (and salty) ending to my Japanese adventure.