It’s all about the convenience, packaging, the product and the price. Yep, you heard that right, price.
3 weeks ago, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend almost 2 weeks in Japan as part of a business school study tour. We traveled to Tokyo, Kyoto, Kobe, and Osaka. Of course, I spent time talking to businesses, but secretly I’ve been wanting to go to Japan because I’m a self-described marketing junkie who just so happens to love food. I could not wait to see what Japan had to offer! On top of this, the conversion rate for the US dollar to the Japanese yen was $1 to 120 yen, so that just meant I could try more food.
So let’s just start with the pictures, because I know that food really draws people in with visuals. So here we go:
BREAKFAST – The Most Important Meal of the Day
- 7am at the Tsujiki Fish Market near Tokyo – Wow this was good, I think I ate that small little bowl of Uni by myself and all of this was for $20.
- Oh the Japanese lunch! This is where packaging and price really comes to play here. You have everything from your catered lunch – where you can see my nicely packaged sandwiches, marinated chicken, pasta salad below, to a 7 course meal for $13!!!, to of course the Japanese staple tasty ramen. This meal by far, was my favorite because I never had to think twice about the tradeoff in taste, cost, and service. Everything was still top notch!
- Below: Left, The best ramen I had during the whole trip – not salty at all! Right, My catered lunch box which included egg salad sandwiches with no crust, pasta salad, fruit and even fried chicken!
- Below: Left, My 7 course meal which included sashimi, vegetables, miso soup, rice, and more. Right, Japanese Fast Food.
- The best meal I had by far was at an Izakaya place (many little dishes) that cost around $60. This included food and drinks. Our classmate, Taku, really treated us well by ordering many different types of fish – grilled, steamed, broiled, and even showed us the real way Japanese drink sake. You start with beer and then move on to your sake. What’s interesting to note about the beer in restaurants there, there’s only one type of beer in the whole restaurant. So when you go there and ask for beer, there’s no room to ask for what type because they only have 1 type of beer on tap! (Completely different experience from the US I’d say, no room for brewies in Japan!). It was a great meal – I’d say my favorite was the steamed fish, soo good!
- Service was truly impeccable – here the chef tried to explain all the different types of fish we were eating: apparently a. gurnard was one of them, never heard of this before! But it was sure tasty! He later even ran out to hand each of us a rice ball with seafood as a thank you! Truly one of my favorite dining experiences in Japan!
- I saved the best for last! Part of the experience was also seeing Costco in Japan.
- Most of things were similar – aisles of food, membership, big carts, food court setup – but there were many things that were different. You’ll see the pictures below of the awesome sushi selection they have at Costco. Queue lines at the food court, rather than single lines for each register, it was a wraparound line. Even the food court, while people were eating carts were neatly parked side by side in 2 rows versus the chaotic carts we see in Costco in Seattle. Finally, BULGOGI BAKE! You heard that right, instead of the Chicken Bake we get here in the States, Costco Japan serves Bulgogi Bake and it was so good!
- Other interesting tidbits: parking garage on top of Costco due to the limited space, most of the shoppers are moms with the children and they tend to share Costco purchases among many generations within the family due to lack of space at home.
- Kobe beef in the city of Kobe
- Coffee in Juice Boxes, Hot Coffee from Vending Machines
- All you can eat $1 Chicken Karaage
Japan was truly an amazing foodie experience as you can tell by large volume of pictures. If you haven’t been, I would strongly recommend it!
I apologize for the layout of the photos- need to work on finding a new interface to document my foodie travels!