Before we begin, let me make one thing very clear: Tokyo is the greatest food city in the world, period. There simply isn’t a counter to this statement. If you love your food and know your way around food, there isn’t a better city for you to indulge yourself in; and anyone who argues otherwise either know nothing about the food they eat, or simply have bad taste, and at this point, it is best that you do not associate yourself with such an individual. Well, for the next ten days, Wong Eats Hong Kong will be indulging himself in the greatest food city in the world, and my God I cannot wait.
The stats and figures certainly agree with me that Tokyo is the greatest city for food. The Japanese capital boasts more Michelin stars than any other city in the world, bagging an impressive 227 establishments with one star or above. For your reference, Paris, the culinary capital for the West has a meagre 92 Michelin stars, while our beloved Hong Kong has a total of 61. And in fact, the difference between Tokyo and the rest of the world cannot even be quantified by statistics alone. There are over 30000 restaurants in Tokyo, many of which, hidden in one of the city’s many alleyways or residential buildings, serve exquisite meals to a select few. Speak to any resident in the city and they will insist that for every Sukibayashi Jiro, there is a tiny, hole-in-the-wall, members only restaurant more deserving of the penultimate culinary status. Sadly, these restaurants are inaccessible for foreigners. In fact, many locals are denied entry as well, as the right to being a customer is a privilege bestowed by the restaurant rather than simply possessing the credit card to pay the bill. Members are invited personally by the chef patron, and often times, meals can cost more than a kidney and half a liver. While researching for my upcoming journey, I discovered a tiny restaurant named Mibu. It is not registered in the Michelin guide. Hell, there aren’t proper reviews of it in English, save for a particularly interesting Eater article where the author was invited for a meal by a regular customer. Yet, many esteemed chefs in the world regard this tiny restaurant as the best in the world – Ferran Adria fell into tears upon tasting the restaurant’s signature dashi stock. Sadly, like many other fine restaurants in Japan, Mibu is no reservations, members only establishment, and there is no way to eat in the restaurant unless you are invited by a regular. In short, the best restaurants in Japan are the ones you probably have not even heard about, and even if you do discover it, there is nothing you can do other than salivate at the images on your computer screen.
But then again, Japan is also the best city in the world to eat cheap. For two years in a row, Michelin has awarded a Michelin star to a ramen-ya, where an average bowl of ramen costs less than HKD100. It is simply a testament to how diverse and versatile the Tokyo culinary scene is. For every piece of expensive, hand crafted sushi you find in Ginza, you can find the same satisfaction indulging in a hot bowl of rich, soothing ramen, or a big bowl of gyudon the size of your face.
For the next ten days, I will be dining in sushi restaurants, ramen stands and popular little izakayas serving mouthwatering pieces of yakitori. Like anything else on Wong Eats Hong Kong, there will be a mix of expensive and cheap places.While I won’t be able to eat in places like Mibu, there are still plenty of goodies available for me, such as the Michelin starred Sushi Kanesaka. Unlike last time in Singapore where I failed to report much of my culinary experiences due to unforeseen circumstances, this will be a more detailed, up to date account. As I sit on an uncomfortable chair in O’Leary’s at the airport, I am literally buzzing with excitement. So, sit back, relax and enjoy Wong Eats Tokyo. It’s going to be a fun ride.