Two years ago I did an amazing food tour of Paris and I discovered they now have a Tokyo option, so I was super keen to book on this. https://www.secretfoodtours.com/tokyo/
Our guide Kyoko meet us just before 11 at Ueno station and we were able to have a introductory chat and meet the other people doing the tour with us. The group was small with only 5 people in total. This was great as it was easy to move around with a smaller group and get to know the people a little. Kyoko was such an excellent host answering all the questions we could possibly come up with about Japanese food and life during the tour.
Overall this was an amazing tour and fantastic value. It went for over 5 hours and we ate so much food.
We learnt Ueno is one of oldest parts of Tokyo. After WW2 when things were scarce and the area was known a place to get things on the black market. During the older Edo period when there were lots of single men in the area it was known for street food vendors as the men had no one to cook for them. There are still lots here and the streets are full of food outlets
The first Resturant was a sushi place. I was a little apprehensive as I’m not a seafood eater, however Kyoko helped order a few things that were not all seafood. I did still try the shrimp and red meat tuna. I was actually surprised how non fishy they tasted. Also had some pickled ginger, lotus root and Burdock. I’ve never had the last two before. I chose cold green tea given how hot it was today. Very nice
Place 2 – Japanese Croquettes (Menchi katsu). Two words. Fast and delicious. From a street vendor in Ueno. Picture probably describes it better than words. I would probably have walked straight past this without giving it a second thought.
After this walked past a place selling lots of seafood. This is a sea pineapple. Never heard of it before.
Stop 3 – Tea. A stop at a shop selling green tea where we got to sample. I learnt something new. The green tea was sweet and delicious, not bitter like it is at home. The key is water temperature. Let it seep at 80c, not 100c
Stop 4 – Dashi. We stopped by a place that sold ingredients for Dashi made from dried kelp, dried bonito, dried shitake mushroom & dried whitebait. The way it was described it’s used in many dishes similar to how we would use vegetable or chicken stock. I sampled some dried kelp
Stop 5 – Secret Restaurant. Wow so much food. A sit down place where we were each given a drink of choice plus massive tray containing
- Egg custard
- Dashi soup
- Salad with sashimi
- Sea bream
- Green tea pudding
- Fried chicken
- Pickled ginger
Stop 6 was a preserved food store, has been in business for 300 years. Most interesting was dried grasshopper. Unfortunately I’m just not that adventurous and didn’t get any of that.
Stop 6 Ueno Park. We wandered around the park to walk off some of the food and checked out a few of the temples
Stop 7 – Gyoza Restaurant. Had some delicious Gyoza washed down with Shōchū mixed with frozen fruits. (Shochu is a Japanese traditional hard liquor, distilled spirits made from grains and vegetables. The most common base ingredients are sweet potato, barley, rice, buckwheat and sugar cane)
Stop 8 – An izakaya (place for standup eating and drinking) where we had yakitori sticks and another Shōchū
Stop 9 was a place selling fruits, I chose some pineapple. After this i mentioned to Kyoko we wanted to go to Kappabashi street and she kindly showed us how to get there.
This was a fantastic tour I would highly recommend if you find yourself in Tokyo.
Some other pics from around Ueno. This one indicates the restaurant is open from 11am till 5am the next morning.