Local Eats | August 19-28, 2013
Don’t look any further, food lovers – this is a tour to give visitors a unique culinary view of Japanese cuisine as well as visits to the best “hole-in-the-wall” establishments in Japan, including the restaurant run by Iron Chef Italy himself, Kobe Masahiko. This isn’t a tour to show off high-class cuisine, but a tour for travelers that are looking for food that’s all about taste. Pricing includes practically all of the meals you see here, so you won’t need to worry about splitting the bill and can just enjoy the food.
We won’t just be eating food, but also learning about food and making it too. Don’t forget, the tour prices INCLUDES the meals listed on the itinerary, so you don’t have to worry about your wallet while enjoying a feast!
The tour includes:
- R/T airfare from Los Angeles
- All meals listed on the itinerary
- 8 nights accommodations: 5 nights hotel in Tokyo, 1 night ryokan in Nagoya, and 2 nights in Osaka
- Stops in Tokyo, Kamakura, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto
- All transportation (train, bus, shinkansen/bullet train) within Japan
- Professional bilingual guide services
- Custom tour guidebook
- Admission to all activities
- Much, much more!
Day 1: Departure! (August 19)
We meet up at the Los Angeles International Airport and depart for Japan! Incidentally, we’re pretty sure that whatever we eat in Japan will be a vast improvement over whatever is served on the plane.
DAY 2: Arrival
After arriving and settling in, we’ll begin our culinary adventure at a popular izakaya. For those of you not in the know, izakaya are akin to a Japanese pub – a place where there’s lots of drinks, lots of little dishes that are shared by the group, and a variety of tastes to experience. Hopefully you’ll agree that this is a fantastic way to recover from a long international flight!
DAY 3: Fluff and Fancy
On our first full day in Tokyo, we’ll begin our day at one of the ubiquitous pan or bread shops in the city. After filling up on some sweet and savory offerings and a cup of coffee, we’ll have a little time to explore Tokyo’s bizarre Namjatown amusement park, where they have a mind-boggling selection of potstickers (“gyoza”) and ice cream, including such delectable flavors as squid and eggplant (we wish we were kidding)! In the afternoon, we’ll visit the Kikkoman Soy Sauce Factory to see where one of the world’s most famous condiments is made.
DAY 4: Fantastic and Plastic
We begin our day with a visit to the Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo’s famed venue for seafood where fish buyers from all over the nation come to bid on the catch of the day. After a fresh and tasty sushi breakfast, we’ll visit the Kappabashi shopping area, where most of Tokyo’s fake food displays (and other bizarre kitchen accoutrements) are sold. For lunch, we’ll get a lesson on how to make our own soba from a professional soba maker! That’s right – you’ll be eating what you create!
In the afternoon, we’ll take two sidesteps into Japanese interpretations of western cuisine. For starters, you have the option of trying some of Harajuku’s famed crepes as we check out the neighborhood. For dinner, prepare yourself for a true treat as we visit Ristorante Massa – home to Iron Chef Italy himself, Kobe Masahiko!
DAY 5: The Finer Things
We begin the day in Ginza, at one of the traditional birthplaces of An-pan, the red bean-filled bread adored all over Japan. After hanging around Ginza, we’ll take a train to Kamakura to sample Nagashi Somen – noodles served in a stream of water that runs by your seat. You’ll have to grab your lunch as fast as you can, so get those chopsticks ready!
After exploring some local shrines, we’ll participate in a “reimagining” of the traditional tea ceremony at one of Kamakura’s finest tea shops. While there may be a little less pomp and circumstance in your tea, there WILL be a lot of flavor involved. After having tea, we’ll gravitate back towards the city and have dinner in Shinjuku.
DAY 6: Free Day!
A free day to explore a part of the city you might have missed. If you feel so inclined, join your guide for a fancy breakfast at one of Tokyo’s finest patisseries, some of the city’s finest ramen and a look at Tokyo’s department store food shopping areas.
DAY 7: Hops and Miso
Our tour checks out of Tokyo and heads to the city of Nagoya, where we’ll sample the local delicacies of Miso Katsu – fried cutlets of pork with a sweet miso sauce – and Ebi Fry, or fried shrimp. All the fried food might make you want a beer, which is why our next stop will be the Kirin Beer Factory! Check out the factory floor, and take a taste of the finished product at the end of the tour.
In the evening, we have something special lined up for you: a kaiseki or seafood dinner served at a traditional onsen (hot spring) ryokan. After our multi-course meal, take advantage of the relaxing baths and views offered by our ryokan.
DAY 8: Kuidaore Capital
We’ll be picking up our bags and migrating to Osaka today, where we’ll drop our luggage at our hotel before heading to the city of Kobe for a lunch of the region’s famous beef. After wandering through Kobe’s Chinatown, it’s back to Osaka to visit their famous Dotonbori area and explore. For Dinner, you’ll be sampling two of Osaka’s finest delicacies: Takoyaki – an octopus-filled dough dish, and Okonomiyaki – a dish often compared to pizza and pancakes, but we think that Okonomiyaki easily surpasses both of them!
DAY 9: Traditional Flavor
It’s off to the old capital of Kyoto today, where we’ll be visiting the famed Kiyomizu Temple and the nightingale floors of Nijo Castle. Along the way, we’ll check out the traditional snacks offered in the city and have a delicious hot pot lunch. Shabu-shabu, sukiyaki, and yakiniku will all be available for lunch. We’ll also visit the futuristic-looking Kyoto Station, where donut shops share space with high end tea and snack retailers.
For our final night in Japan, we’ll head back to Osaka to sample another Osaka specialty: fried skewers, or kushiage!
DAY 10: Returning Home (August 28)
Return home, and become the person who tells your friends every time you go out for Japanese food: “I’ve had better.”