If you’re a foodie traveling in Tokyo, you must visit Tsukiji Market—the world’s largest seafood market. It’s a mad rush of activity, especially in the early morning when most of the commercial purchasing takes place. Forklifts and small trucks whiz back and forth, workers stack enormous piles of empty Styrofoam containers for recycling, and every type of seafood imaginable is on display. The sheer volume of seafood sold daily is astounding—over 5 million pounds!
Milk-Braised Pork Shoulder at the Purple Pig
I lived in Chicago for three years, and while I don’t miss the brutal, unrelenting winters, I certainly do miss the food scene. Chicago houses some of the nation’s best restaurants and markets. Whether you’re seeking a magically creative fine-dining experience or delicious craft beer and food in a fun, urban environment, you can easily find a restaurant (or three) to suit your mood.
I recently had the chance to travel with my sister to Chicago and revisit some of my old haunts, but only for a few hours between flights. It was a mad rush, so we had to come up with a game plan that would allow us to hit as many eateries as possible. This was my version of Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover, only much, much shorter.
Tonkatsu Pork Filet and Prawn at Katsukura Shinjuku
Katsukura Restaurant is located on the 14th floor of the Takashimaya Mall in Shinjuku, a short walk from Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens. Katsukura specializes in tonkatsu—a Japanese dish consisting of pork that has been coated in flour, egg, and panko breadcrumbs, and then deep fried. This preparation produces delicately airy pork with a crispy exterior. If you visit Japan, you must try tonkatsu at least once!
Katsukura is a tourist-friendly restaurant. Upon arrival, they brought us cold barley tea (commonly served in the summertime in Japan) and offered us English menus. Fans of Japanese whiskey will be happy to see that you can order a high-ball of Yamazaki or Hakushu for around ¥650 (~$5-$6 USD). This is not bad at all given the price of Japanese whiskey in the States!
Special Tsukemen with Extra Chashu Pork at Fuunji Restaurant in Shinjuku, Tokyo
Despite howling winds and lashing rain from an approaching typhoon, Corey and I braved the streets of Shinjuku in search of a delicious meal. It was our second night in Japan and we couldn’t let two days go by without having any noodles!
Originally, we’d planned to eat soba in memory lane our first night in Tokyo at Kameya Shinjuku, but that had been thwarted by the Obon holiday. So we weren’t going to let the weather stop us from eating at Fuunji!
Interior of Crane Ramen Restaurant in Gainesville, FL
When my mother called and told me that Crane Ramen—the first ramen restaurant in Gainesville, Florida—had opened, I decided to check it out. It’s hard to find a ramen restaurant outside the big cities, though with the increasing popularity of ramen, that may change. I’ve been spoiled by all the ramen joints in Chicago (Santouka being my favorite) and Atlanta, so it was exciting to see one open in my little hometown.
Crane Ramen’s Atmosphere and Setting
Crane Ramen features a vibrant, modern interior with an open kitchen, illustrated placemats showing how to eat ramen (the secret is to slurp and slurp quickly!), and ceiling banners featuring the restaurant’s logo—a crane stretched proudly over an empty stack of bowls. This may be a reference to longevity, as cranes are fabled to live 1,000 years in Japan, and noodles symbolize longevity in some Asian countries.