“I know this is a tough one, but can you define the Tokyo “flavor” in a word or phrase?” he nonchalantly writes.
Tokyo… flavor? How am I supposed to sum the tastes of Tokyo in one phrase. More or less one word??
Tokyo. Is. Massive.
There are more than 200,000 soba, ramen and sushi restaurants. 45k bakeries. 10k produce (fruit and vegetable) stores. Over 5k butcher shops and 4k fish markets.
…just in Central Tokyo (meaning this doesn’t count all of Tokyo, so for the sake of a simple comparison, these are stats only for Manhattan minus Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, etc.)
And to add, these stats are from the 70s. 70’s! Meaning in 2015, there are probably double that?
That is a lot of darn choices.
The best answer I could come up with, was: think of Tokyo like a Las Vegas buffet.
There is everything from high end to low end from all regions of Japan and the world. There are millions of choices and just like the Vegas buffets: you get what you pay for and can custom cater your meals to fit your palate. Do you like Italian? French? American? Asian? One can easily find that on any of the spreads. Prefer seafood? Stick to the raw bar of the buffet. Love meat? Beeline to the carving table. Vegetarian? There’s another bar for that!
Then there is the distance issue. If I’m staying all the way at the Wynn, I will not Uber or cab it down the strip just for the Bacchanal at the Caesar and instead, settle for the buffet inside of the Wynn (which if I recall correctly, has Wagyu beef and Alaskan crab legs).
Since I live in Central Tokyo, I will not travel out of my way (20 minute train ride) and stand in line for another 1.5 hours, sometimes 2 hours to eat Rokurinsha’s tsukemen beloved by David Chang. (I swear, if someone asks me to go there with them one more time, I will Hulk Smash my screen.)
Instead, I would much rather walk five minutes to Afuri for their yuzu tsukemen that is equally delicious (and the noodles aren’t as fat and gummy).
So you see, my advice – and challenge – to those who are planning visits: make your own Tokyo. Build an experience that is all yours.
Because Tokyo really is, whatever you want it to be — or how I affectionately say: it is Disneyland for food lovers.