Indulge in Authentic Japanese Cuisine for Less Than $2
Think Japan. What comes to mind? Geisha, temples, Mt. Fuji, wood block prints?
Computers, robots, super high-speed trains, and anime?
Exotic food that leaves your credit card crying in the corner, begging for mercy?
Are you ready for a shock – in a good way?
You can indulge in the pleasures of authentic Japanese cuisine for pocket change… if you know where – and when – to look.
While you can certainly dine out on less than $10 in eateries for the locals, you can scale your food budget farther back if you hit a local grocery store.
Head over to the cooler section. Here you’ll find fresh noodles of many types – soba, ramen, udon. Typically wrapped in little packets, they’ll run you about 15 yen. (At the time of writing, that’s less than $0.12 USD!! Yes, TWELVE CENTS!) Look right next to the fresh noodle bonanza and you’ll see several types of fish cake. These delicious, protein-packed morsels run about 30 to 40 yen. And they’re ready to eat right out of the packet.
Heat up the noodles in your hotel room in a large mug (if you don’t have a bowl) and the hot water from the ubiquitous electric kettle. (Usually on your dresser next to the free tea and instant coffee.)
Here’s another secret that’ll take away those travel food budget blues. When you shop plays just as an important role as where. Typically after 7:00 p.m., you can find bargain bins at the supermarket. Hit those for all sorts of discounts. Put on your creative cooking cap and open your mind. You’ll be able to mix and match your way into all sorts of tasty experiences. Take note that you’ll be competing with Mrs. Watanabe and Mrs. Takahashi to get the best bits, though. Don’t be fooled by the stereotype that says the Japanese are a meek lot. Get in there!
What about the flavors and sauces? Pop over to the deli section where you can find sushi wrapped in boxes, ready to go and you can pick up complimentary soy sauce and wasabi packets… And you might be surprised at what you will find in your hotel room…
If you don’t have time to wait until 7:00 p.m., the produce section typically sports fruits and veggies that are just slightly past their prime, but still perfectly fine to eat.
What could be more authentic than participating in the daily preparation of inexpensive, healthy meals that millions of Japanese housewives (and VERY limited number of husbands) carry out daily?
Sure, you might not be a master of the five basic flavors (sugar, salt, vinegar, soy sauce, miso – that is, sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and fermented), but shop in a local market and experience comradely and competition that comes with finding good deals on your food, and you’ll be off the beaten tourist path for certain.