Chef David Chang has a love affair for Tokyo and he should. He is responsible for bringing awareness of ramen to America. I remember returning to the states after living in Tokyo in the late 90’s and it was impossible to convince people that real ramen and cup-o-noodles aren’t not the same. Now when I return to the states people want to drag me to their favorite ramen shop.
Tokyo is a food lovers city and yes it does have the largest amount of Michelin starred restaurants in the world and Tsukiji Market is great! I was living about a 10 minute walk from the market and would fight the crowds to get great seasonal fish and vegetables. A lot of people don’t realize that they sell more that just fish. http://www.citymarketcuisine.com/food-blog/tsukiji-fish-market
A big thank you for noticing their convenient stores, which are nothing like the ones in the states. I love going into the stores in the wintertime, as you enter you are welcomed with the aroma of oden.
Fast food is better, it’s not thrown together and tossed in a box. It is prepared properly and placed into position and carefully put together and presented to the customer.
There are bad restaurants in Tokyo, just like any city, it isn’t perfect, (http://www.citymarketcuisine.com/food-blog/2014/9/6/my-least-favorite-restaurants-in-tokyo-havana). Most of them serve non Japanese cuisine and can fool some customers, who don’t know the cuisine.
The real reason why Tokyo is such a great food city isn’t the city, but the standards of the people who live in. Yes, Japan has a different work mentality than the states, but the customers also have different standards. Now that I am in Los Angeles, I often find myself saying, “This would not be acceptable in Tokyo”.
It’s no secret of how they do this, it’s pride for themselves to do the best job, respect for the ingredients and all the time knowing that they have some of the most demanding customers that expect the best quality for the price and if not delivered, they’ll see it as an insult to them as a customer and will not return.
For me, it’s disappointing to make a nabe with seasonal ingredients and dashi, only to watch people obliterate it with a dose of siracha before even tasting it. Food starts with the ingredients and the chefs, but it needs the development of the customer’s palate to reward the chef and the restaurant and in return the ingredients.