Sushi hopping in Japan

A situation that posed a bigger challenge that I expected was trying to order without someone who could read and/or speak Japanese. How silly of me to assume that the menus would have pictures or English versions. On one hand, what a great sign clearly proving we weren’t settled for the tourist spots. On the other hand, it found us with empty stomachs, holding a menu of Japanese characters with a shy waitress eagerly waiting for our order.

I didn’t feel appropriate taking photos in some of the places we chose to ate at, but here are some shots from a few of our successful and “attempted” meals.

This dining experience turned out to be a noodle specialty house with only 2 tables and 3 tatami rooms with a chabudai (a low setting japanese table with no chairs). We took off our shoes and climbed in.

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To order, we literally pointed to a picture on the wall and gave a thumbs up (with fingers crossed). She walked towards the kitchen and giggled as she relayed our request. Returning gently with our bowl of delightful goodies, she properly served us after watching our awkward attempt.

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This was a restaurant that provided you with your own grill and a menu of fresh foods including pork, beef, chicken, tofu, vegetables and more. All served to you raw for you to cook at your preference. The boys went with beef and chicken and I complemented their choice with fresh veggies.

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As if that wasn’t enough, Brandon added a bowl of spicy noodle soup. We thought it was going to come out in a cute mini “miso” cup… We were wrong, but it was delicious!

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I just wanted to show the amount of grill smoke that was constantly floating around. I also smile every time I look at the sweet girls face to the left of the picture, adorable!

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With this evening attempts, we decided to jump on the train and “sushi hop” around a new city. The rule was to split a sake or a beer and order one thing before we move to the next place. We were joined by a willing friend Maddox that was along for the ride! The adventure began…

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Snack #1: 7 seats total, one famous chef with a cheerful assistant, a local couple (who loved Brandon’s Halloween mask), an order of grilled peppers with fish flakes and of course… local sake.

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Stop # 2: American classics decorated the walls including Elvis records in the restroom and “The Marlboro man” ads lining the hallway. Hey look! We found another local that liked his mask.

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Sushi #3: When was the last time you had a beer at a bar with no shoes on… Legally?

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#4: We had a hard time figuring out to get into this one. The entrance was a sliding glass door which had a covering that you had to duck under. Following that was pebble stones to stand in before taking off your shoes to be seated. I caught the giggles here (if you know me well, you understand how hard this can be to maintain) and the more confused that Maddox looked, the worse it got. He couldn’t figure out what was so funny!

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Last stop: We were the only ones here except the sweet woman chatting it up with Brandon. Friendly bartenders, a funky Dj’s booth and different decor made this upstairs gig a unique one.

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The walk home presented a tiny debate (maybe from all the sake). What do you think… Is the character on the sign an elderly man with a beard or a hamster?

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