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Home > Tokyo's Attractions > Dining in Tokyo > Traditional Japanese Cuisine

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Traditional Japanese Cuisine

Sophisticated and authentic cuisines


Among several serving styles of sushi, the best known is "nigiri-zushi," which is a bite-size oval ball of rice flavored with sweetened vinegar and Topped with a piece of ingredient called neta. A variety of neta includes raw or marinated seafood as well as tamagoyaki <rolled egg>. At a sushi restaurant, you may be seated at a counter, choose neta you like from a front showcase and tell your order directly to a chef behind the counter. You may also choose a course that includes various neta of the chef's selection. Most high-end sushi restaurants are in this style. Some varieties of neta can be very expensive at these places, however. Prices for neta in early or mid season are especially fluctuant due to the market situation and the actual figure of these items are not always given and indicated only as "price varies daily" instead. Be sure to ask for the price of the day before you order such items to avoid any troubles at checkout.

Kaiseki Ryori

Also known as kaiseki-zen, "kaiseki ryori" is a full-course serving style of Japanese traditional cuisine. The origin of kaiseki ryori is "honzen ryori," which was established as manners for samurai warriors to entertain their guests. The kaiseki menu is composed of basic "one soup and three dishes (sashimi, yakimono <grilled dish>, and nimono <stewed dish>)" and often includes additional dishes such as zensai <appetizer>, agemono <fried dish>, mushimono <steamed dish> and such. The course is generally completed with rice, miso soup and kounomono <pickled vegetables>. Plates and bowls carefully selected and food tastefully arranged, every dish served for the kaiseki menu is visually entertaining too. When written in different kanji characters, "kaiseki ryori" also indicates a simple set menu that was originally served at a tea ceremony. You may enjoy this kaiseki style dish and its unique way of presentation at some washoku <Japanese cuisine> restaurants.

Casual Japanese dining


Kaiten-zushi is a casual style of sushi restaurant where they serve sushi for reasonable prices. It is very popular in Japan and numerous kaiten-zushi restaurants are found throughout the metropolitan area. At the restaurant, customers may be seated at a counter or a table and serve themselves by choosing their favorite plates of ready-to-eat sushi that are circulating on a conveyor belt through the tables. In addition to standard fresh seafood sushi, many kaiten-zushi restaurants serve sushi made with canned tuna or hamburger steak and also varieties of dishes other than sushi from karaage <fried chicken> to dessert cakes. For a drink, cups and teabags are provided at each table along with hot water so that customers can make and serve green tea by themselves. At checkout, a restaurant staff counts the number of plates on the table, which are color-coded for prices.


Teishoku is a set menu that usually includes a main dish of meat or fish accompanied with a side dish, rice, miso soup and tsukemono <pickled vegetables>. Popular items for the main dish are sashimi, yakizakana <grilled fish>, tonkatsu <breaded pork cutlet>, karaage <fried chicken> and such. The price range for teishoku menu varies but usually is from 600 yen to 1,200 yen. While there are many casual diners specializing in teishoku, some Japanese restaurants and other higher-class restaurants occasionally serve reasonable teishoku menu for their lunch service.

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