Few things in life drive us crazy like Japanese food halls do.
If you have ever been to Japan, you would probably understand that feeling. The food hall is incredible to say the least, and the sheer food options will make you bewilder you. We often find ourselves spending hours in there, just going around – one lane after another, and becoming more and more excited, like a kid in a candy land.
When in Japan, take a trip (or two, or three, or one every day) to the Japanese food halls – usually located at the basement levels of departmental stores – and be lost in the wondrous world of Japanese products. We promise it will be a quintessential experience, and one that will leave you speechless. From Daimaru and Takashimaya to Tokyu and Isetan, Japanese Food Halls definitely has to be on your check list when you are in Japan. Just remember to bring more cash!
If Willy Wonka was real and there was really a chocolate factory like the one we saw in the movie, then this is the Japanese food equivalent – extremely colourful, nothing short of amazing, totally kawaii, and unbelievably fascinating. It is like the best of Japan all under one roof.
#1 THE FANCIEST AND MORE ELABORATE BENTO BOXES
We are not even kidding when we say you can find all sorts of bento boxes here. Every one is plated so attractively, and whatever you have a taste for, there will be something for you. And there is a bento box for every budget! We love to take these on the go, especially when we’ve got an inter-city train to catch.
#2 VERY FRESH AND COLOURFUL SUSHI AND SASHIMI
What is Japan without sushi and sashimi? And because the Japanese really take pride in their sushi and sashimi, you can be rest assured that even at food halls, the quality is high and the raw fish you are paying for is easily better than those you get in restaurants in Singapore!
#3 TONKATSU AND CROQUETTE AND ANYTHING DEEP FRIED
We prefer our tonkatsu fresh from the fryer – piping hot and ready to burn our tongues. But the ones at the food hall are pretty decent and the ala carte ones on stick make great snacks. Oh, the croquettes are lovely too. They are usually still very crispy even if you buy them nearer to closing hours.
#4 DELICATE MOCHI SWEETS
Are you a fan of Japanese sweets? Powdery mochi for you, maybe? You will find lots of them in the food halls – in all sorts of flavours, and they come in very exquisite packaging. These make great gifts and souvenirs!
#5 MATCHA, MATCHA AND MORE MATCHA
You’ll love a good matcha when in Japan. The powder is so fine, slightly bitter, and very robust in flavour. Look out for stalls and counters that sell matcha products; chances are, you can find almost any sort – ready-to-drink matcha tea and latte, matcha sachets, matcha sweets, matcha cookies…
#6 FRUITS OF JAPAN
Literally. Japan grows many of its own fruits throughout the year, and every season has its unique offerings. Their fruits are free from pesticides, and are extremely sweet, juicy and rich in colour. A few of our favourites are yubari melon, kyoho grapes, fuji apples and ichigo (strawberries).
#7 WONDROUS CAKES GALORE
We have a love-hate relationship with the endless shelves of cake displays. The Japanese are highly skilled in beautifying their food, and the cakes no less. Fruits, cream, meringue, chocolate… the cakes galore in a Japanese food hall will make you go weak in your knees, and even a supermodel would cave in to the damned cakes! No adjective suffices to describe that sort of magnificence.
#8 AND CHOCOLATES TOO
As if cakes are not bad enough, they’ve got tons of chocolates to play with your heart too! It is wicked, but we would gladly sin. Chocolates anything, anytime. Yes, shut up and take our money!
There are many renown home-grown patisseries in Japan, and they often have booths and counters within the Japanese food halls. You may also find international favourites. Think Henri Charpentier, Tokyo Banana, Pierre Hermé, Yoku Moku, Gramercy, Fauchon…
By the way, would it make you happier if we told you that you can try almost everything for free? The Japanese will not judge you. In fact, they are always so hospitable and welcoming, and they would eagerly offer you samples. That is just another reason to love Japanese food halls.