I visited Japan (specifically Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Osaka) in July with my brother and my best friend. It was an incredible experience. This was the first international vacation I’d taken in a while (not counting visits back home to India) and I had a lot of fun.
If you’re planning to visit Japan (and I’d highly recommend doing so) here are some tips that might help you:
Visit Hiroshima. It is an intense, heart-wrenching, and emotionally moving experience. It will change you.
Get a Japan Rail (JR) pass. It allows you to use Japan’s excellent public rail system an unlimited number of times for a flat fee for 7, 14, or 21 days. It makes traveling between and within cities in Japan effortless. Make sure to also install the HyperDia app to help you plan your travels.
Throw out all your clothes before you leave for Japan and be prepared to acquire a whole new set of clothes when you’re back. Why? Because the food in Japan is SO GOOD that you’re going to eat A LOT and none of your old clothes will fit you anymore. To say that every meal I had in Japan was excellent would be an understatement. Highlights for me included my meal at Len, fatty tuna, Wagyu beef, tsukemen, and ochazuke.
One of the many highlights of my recent visit to Japan was a dinner I had at Len (also called Ren). Len is a two Michelin starred restaurant in Tokyo and I managed to get a 6pm dinner reservation there on my second last night in Japan.
The meal was phenomenal. I love Japanese food, and in my mind this meal exemplified everything that attracts me towards Japanese cuisine – simplicity, elegance, and the freshness of ingredients.
Restaurants that “ruin” a food item for me hold a special place in my heart. By “ruin” here I mean that they serve me such a perfect version of the food item in question that subsequent versions I eat elsewhere will (most likely) pale in comparison. This first happened to me at Quince where I had the best mac and cheese I’d ever had in my life, and it happened again at Len, where I had the most sublime and incredible rice and eel I’ve ever tasted. This is a simple dish, but in its simplicity lies perfection.
I had my first taste of good whisky in 2013. It took me a couple of months after that to get accustomed to and develop an appreciation for this spirit. By 2014 whisky had become my preferred choice of alcoholic drink.
Got a chance to check out Portland’s food cart scene today. I was quite impressed. I’ve eaten at a lot of food trucks in San Francisco so I was looking forward to trying something new/different in Portland. I was not disappointed.
The first cart I ate at was Mumbo Gumbo. Their seafood gumbo was quite excellent. I was starving and totally forgot to take a picture. But it was delicious.
Cart #2 was Kargi Gogo. I’ve never had food from the country of Georgia before so this was a first for me. I ordered the khinkali and it was amazing. It reminded me of xiaolongbao, another dish that I absolutely adore. Highly, highly recommend trying this place out.