Different types of Japanese restaurants

I find it fascinating that restaurants have different service models. Service as in: (1) how to take a seat
(2) how to order
(3) how to get your food
(4) how to pay

In Japan I have experienced a lot of different types of restaurants. In this post I will give you an overview. Enjoy!

Ticket machine restaurant

How to order(2) and pay(4): There is a ticket machine where you can get tickets for different dishes. You put in money for example ramen and a side dish. The machine can give money back, so you don’t need to pay the exact amount.
How to take a seat(1): If the place is not busy, you can just take any seat. Or the waiter will guide you to a seat.
How to get your food(3): the food is made very fast, like ramen or a ‘fast food’ dish. The waitress will bring it to your table.

Self service: Tully’s Coffee, Starbucks

How to order(2) and pay(4): You buy your drinks and food at the counter and you pay there.
How to get your food(3): You wait at the counter till the foods and drinks are made.
How to take a seat(1): After getting your food and drinks, you pick any free seat. In Japan, if it’s very busy, you can already occupy a seat beforehand with you bag or even an tissue pack. People will not steal your stuff.

Full service restaurant (Western style)

How to take a seat(1): When you arrive they ask whether you have a reservation. Your jacket will be taken away from you.You will be guided to your seat.
How to order(2): You will receive two menus: drink and food. You will get some time to pick your drink and food. The waiter will come back to check all the details of what you have ordered. Hot or cold drinks?
How to get your food(3): If you have a course menu, your food will come one by one including the needed cutlery. The waiter pays attention to when you are done with a course. The empty plates and cutlery will be taken away and the next course with cutlery comes. If you are in a teppanyaki or sushi restaurant, the chef will prepare the food in front of you.
How to pay(4): You wave the waiter and you ask for the bill. You pay at your table.

Special restaurants

Sushi belt, Kura Sushi

How to take a seat(1): You get a ticket with a number from a machine, where you can choose “Table seat” or “Counter seat”. The waitress at the counter will call your number and give you a table/seat number. You have to find your table in the maze.
How to order(2): There is a tablet at your table and you can pick your dishes via the tablet.
How to get your food(3): Your dishes will come to you on a conveyor belt. There are two conveyor belts, one goes to every table and you can pick any sushi from there. The top conveyor belt brings the food you have ordered.
How to pay: The fun thing of Kura Sushi is that you are cleaning your plates in a playful way (gamify!). There is a gachapon machine (capsule toy machine) at your table and you can put in 5 plates as 1 try to get a toy. The tablet will play a short movie where you will beat the villain (or not). If you beat the villain you will get a toy! I got an ice cream eraser. Simon and Martina have a nice movie about Kura Sushi. When you are done eating, you push a “Call waiter” button on the tablet, the waiter will check the number of plates and extra stuff. She will print a receipt for you. You take this receipt and table number to the counter and pay.

Famous restaurant with waiting line

How to take a seat(1): Wait in line for about 30+ minutes. You will be guided to your seat when there is a free spot. At some restaurants you need to take of your shoes to sit on the floor.
How to order(2): When a restaurant only has a few options, they might already take your order in line. Else, they will take your order after you are seated.
How to get your food(3): The waiter will bring your food.
How to pay(4): When they bring your food, they also give you a (handwritten) receipt. When you are done eating, you go down to the cash register and pay. (If you are sitting on the second floor.)

Every restaurant gives you free water or tea. Except the fancy Kobe Beef restaurant actually…

What do you prefer more? A self service restaurant or full service restaurant?

I am more of the self service: food comes fast, no small talk hassle. Eat and gooooo~ to eat more food. Hehe..
Have a good weekend!

Japan travel costs for 2 weeks

Hi foodlovers!

I have calculated our costs and we have spend 5335 euro in total for two weeks. So 2667 euro per person. This included: plane ticket, JR pass (train), hotels, ryokan (fancy hotel), meals, Kobe beef meal, sight seeing stuff, souvenirs, snacks and metro.

Japan trip costs

Average Japan travel costs for 2 weeks

I also made a calculation for an average trip, then I come to 2533 euro per person. I am guessing then you can go way cheaper than 2500 per person for two weeks if you pick cheap eats and stay at a hostel or capsule hotel.

Japan travel costs for two weeks

Tips for planning your Japan trip

  • Plane ticket – Check flights early, e.g. 6 months before your trip, to find the cheap dates. Direct flights are nice, but if you can save some money with a transfer, buy the transfer ticket. You can use that money to eat fancy food (Kobe beef = 150 euro).
  • JR pass – This is a pass for traveling for free on the JR trains, bus and ferry. You can save a lot of money with it. 14 days pass = 355 euro. One big train trip, like Tokyo to Kyoto, already costs 110 euro. So when you are planning to travel to 3 big cities, this pass saves you a lot of money. You can only buy the pass 3 months before the trip. Check their website.
  • Hotels – If you are staying a week in one city, the hotel might cost a lot. You can save money by staying a few days in one hotel (60 euro per night) and a few days in a capsule hotel (40 euro per night). A capsule hotel is like a bunker bed, but closed. Check out Abroad in Japan’s video about capsule hotels. In Tokyo we stayed in the Akihabara area. This area is nice and quiet in the evening, close to Tokyo station and has a lot of anime, arcades, computer stuff and games. In Kyoto we stayed close to Nijo Station in a self-service hotel (Grand Japaning Nijo).
  • Ghibli museum – If you want to go to the Ghibli museum during your trip. BOOK TICKETS 1 MONTH BEFORE YOU VISIT. Check out their website very early (>1 month before visit). You can only buy a ticket on the 10th of the month for the next month. So if you visit in November, buy ticket on 10 October. We checked too late, so we missed our chance T.T
  • Food tips – Watch a lot of Youtube videos about all the delicious food in Japan. It can give you inspiration and it prepares you tongue mentally for all the good food. When you ARE in Japan, you can use Google Maps to pick out 4+ stars restaurants. These are usually the best. When you have Wi-Fi you can load the map and “Save/Star” the restaurants. When you are walking around without Wi-Fi, you can still use GPS to find the “Starred” restaurant.

The Japan trip was really fun. I hope these tips can help you prepare yóur Japan trip. Or use them to convince your partner how ‘cheap’ Japan is 😉

Looking back: Japan trip 2017

Looking back

So sad the trip is already over for a week. It was one of my favorite trips so far, next to Hong Kong 2016. The food was just fantastic. The people are nice and so mindful. There is a lot of sun. Toilets are the best, a very important factor when visiting a country. You can find toilets everywhere in Japan and they are so clean!

I have a lot of video footage and photos of the trip, so I have some ideas for posts. I also thought it is nice to give you guys an overview of the costs in Japan for a 2 weeks holiday. I highly recommend Japan; such a lovely, beautiful and hardworking country.

Posts planned:

  1. Japan costs for a 2 week trip
  2. Sushi video at やまに寿司 千本店 Kyoto
  3. Shichisai Tokyo ramen video
  4. Other random ideas…

Fun things of Japan

  • Anime stuff. Japan is the mother source of anime and manga. There are so many stores with merchandise of Ghibli, Yotsuba&, One Piece, Fat pig cat, Dragonball… everything..
  • Food. Everything tastes good. Ramen heaven. Yes, I got fat while eating 3 hot meals per day. No regrets…
  • Temples. I really like the simple style of Japanese temples. Not too much decorations, just simple and clean forms. Like Muji.
  • (Shops) Muji, Uniqlo and Loft. Simple style clothing and stuff. Loft is like a small mall of cool stuff.
  • Train traveling. The stations and trains are organised very well. Clean stations, clear signs of where to wait. The shinkansen (high speed) trains have comfortable chairs and clean toilets.
  • Sunny weather. In November is usually sun every day. It can become cold, so wear winter jackets in November. I thought it would be 15 Celsius degree, so we only brought our summer jackets.
  • Nature. We did not see a lot of nature in this trip. But the Fushimi Inari Taisha in the mountains was really nice to see. I know from Youtubers that Japan has beautiful nature.
  • Fashion. The people in Japan are so fashionable. The material they use for jackets is really pretty, it looks very high class. Maybe because we mainly stayed in big cities I have only seen the fashion crowd. Of course the million businessmen look fabulous in their suits.
  • Cute, kawaii. Japan is also the mother source of cuteness. I want all the kawaii stuff! Plushies, toys, stickers, pens, stationary. Oeh. They have so much stationary shops. I would have bought everything if I was still in school.

That’s it for this reminiscing post. Tomorrow I will work on the “costs in Japan” post, so hopefully I can post it tomorrow. Have a good day!

Japan day 14: Lazy Bear bday

It’s Lazy Bear’s birthday today! Hooray!

Here is a drawn cake.

Feeling lazy to blog. But we ate delicious fresh ramen noodles. Photo and story will come later.

Tomorrow we will be going back home. Have a good Friday!

Japan day 13: knife and Kappabashi

Toshimi Saitou, chef of Yokohama Ramen Saito, suggested me to visit Kappabashi “Kitchen Town” in Tokyo. Lazy Penguin suggested to buy a good Japanese kitchen knife. So today’s mission: buy a knife in Kappabashi.

The street is close to Ueno Station, this blog has a detailed story about the location. Today is Labor Day, so most people are having a free day.

When I arrived at Kappabashi, half of the stores were open.

I found a knife shop (Kitchen World TDI Knife shop) and I was overwhelmed by all the Japanese knives.

The owner told me that any knife is good. The prices range from 4000 yen to 40.000++yen (30 euro to 300 euro). Probably even higher, but I didn’t dare to look at those.

My budget: 10.000 yen. I picked a knife which looked nice and was nice to hold and cut. The curly waves in the blade come from 37 layers of steel. It’s called Damascus steel. Wikipedia says: This “Modern Damascus” is made from several types of steel and iron slices welded together to form a billet, and currently the term “damascus” (although technically incorrect) is widely accepted to describe modern pattern welded steel blades in the trade.

I bought the 4th one from the left, a black handled knife with dimples. The dimples create air between the ingredient, so it will not stick to the knife. For example, when you cut a cucumber, the slice will fall from the knife easier.

I can’t wait to use it at home! Internet says it’s very sharp and it stays sharp for a ling time. When I am going to sharpen it, I will need to do some research to do it properly. So I won’t damage my precious. I will let you know the experiences by then!

Have a lovely day!

⬆ One of the kitchen shops

Japan day 12: Tokyo Gyukatsu Motomura

We are back in Tokyo again. Tokyo is really a metropolis compared to Kyoto. Broad roads, tall buildings, big and hip shops..

But Tokyo also has the smallest restaurants like Beef Kontatsu “Gyugatsu Motomura”. I think I found this restaurant on Google maps with 4+ stars. The place has one stroke of walking area, with the kitchen across of the eating counter. There are 9 seats I believe.

When we arrived there was a short line, about 40 minutes waiting. But it was really worth it; soft beef in a thin crispy dough layer. You could dip it in soy sauce and wasabi, which reminds me of sashimi. And there was a horse radish sauce, which was my favorite. We ate very fast, because people are waiting outside and it was so quiet. Everyone was just enjoying the food.

The price for all of this? 1200 yen, which is about 9 euro. So cheap for such high quality meat. Lazy Bear and I agree, this was more delicious than Kobe beef. 😬

When we left, the line was twice as long. But it’s worth it!

That’s it for today. Let’s end it with a smore ice cream from Dominique Ansel Bakery.

Japan day 11: food bucket list

Yesterday I talked about a food bucket list and a reader asked what else there is on my list. The list didn’t exist (yet) on black and white, only in my head. So here is my food bucket list for Japan.

To eat:

– good sushi, tuna sashimi, salmon sashimi [✓ ate today]
– desserts from Dominique Ansel Bakery Japan
– tempura, fried stuff
– yakitori, meat on a stick [✓ ate today]
– chicken wings from Yamachan
– natto on rice, fermented soy beans

Already ate:

– Kobe beef
– onigiri from 7eleven
– flan from 7eleven
– curry bang
– ramen
– okonomiyaki
– takoyaki
– meat over rice, beef don
– udon
– shabu shabu, hotpot
– Coco curry
– Kura Sushi, win a toy
– ekiban, lunch box in the train

Good sushi

Today we finally ate sushi. It was at a small store near Nijo castle. When we arrived no one was there yet. So I have been able to film some sushi action. I will make a video about the restaurant, because the experiences were so pleasant.

Inside there were three old chefs. One chef could speak some English, so he took our order. Luckily the menu had photos. We picked a sushi set with tempura and one with a mini hot pot. Two chefs skillfully started making the sushi in front of us. And in the back the third chef was preparing the hot stuff.

The sushi was just perfect. Soft tuna with fluffy, light flavoured rice. Every sushi piece had the perfect mouthfeel and taste. There was a small bowl of rice with egg pancake slices, fish eggs, unagi and fish meat. The taste was so well balanced. Every bite was perfectly flavoured. The hot pot soup was also very good, sweet and salty. This has been one of my favorite food experience here in Japan. One chef also advised us how to eat the sushi, which sushi not to dip in the soysauce and how to eat the hotpot. Very nice of him to teach us some food culture.

Yakitori, meat on a stick

For dinner we had stick food. It was not that mind blowing. Just okay sticks. The chicken+leek was the best. I think we need to go to a better place to eat yakitori. So my food bucket list for Japan is almost done. Still 4 things I want to try.

Tomorrow: back to Tokyo. More ekiban on the train!