Food extra: Off to the Rugby World Cup? Here are the dishes to try if you’re going to Tokyo

Off to the Japan? After a trip to Tokyo, Ella Walker outlines the best things to eat between matches.

Japan – and Tokyo in particular – can be overwhelming. Hectic, crammed with people, and something of a culture shock – but if you’re visiting during the Rugby World Cup (September 20-November 2), you needn’t be befuddled by what to eat too.

Here’s what to try when you get peckish between matches…

1. Tendon

A comforting bowl of tempura – usually a mix of veggies (yam, green pepper) and fish (prawns especially) on a mound of rice, drizzled with a sweet-sour soy sauce.

2. Omakase

This is chef’s choice sushi, where you’ll be presented with bite after bite of delectably hand-made, super fresh sushi.

3. Okonomiyaki

A rosti-cum-omelette stuffed with cabbage, topped with ponzu sauce, mayonnaise and katsuobushi (dried, fermented tuna flakes, also known as bonito, that appear to dance when they come into contact with heat), that are cooked on a hot sheet of metal at your table.

4. Ramen

A big bowl of noodles in broth, with chunks of meat, preferably eaten at 4am after karaoke. Always order an extra ramen egg, and extra green (spring) onions.

5. Yakitori

Nab a seat in almost any izakaya (a small Japanese ‘pub’) and you’ll likely be presented with skewers, spearing anything you might imagine: Chicken breast, thigh, wings, liver, beef, foie gras, gingko nuts – you name it, they’ll happily skewer it.

6. Unagi

Aka eel, it’s a speciality, and more meaty and less squeem-inducing than you might expect.

7. Mochi

These sweet, gooey rice balls stick to the roof of your mouth, and are made with bean paste and come in multi colours.

8. Kobe beef

Often at burger joints, you’ll be given the choice between your usual beef, and kobe (which ratchets the price up), as it’s that perfectly marbled cut, otherwise known as wagyu.

9. Matcha tea

This is what you’ll sip if you’re lucky enough to attend a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, but it comes in every form imaginable everywhere else – ice cream, candy, juice, smoothies…

10. Melonpan

Pappy, quite bland, strangely comforting and crusted in sugar, these melon buns are always found at service stations.

11. Karaage

If you’re ever stumped by what to order, trust in karaage – it’s basically crispy-fried chicken and almost always comes with lemon slices.

Ella was a guest of YO! Kitchen – YO!’s first non-belt, full-service restaurant launched as YO! Kitchen White City (London) in September, followed by YO! Kitchen Dundrum (Dublin) in autumn. Visit yosushi.com.

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