Each Tuesday I will be exploring a new location to satisfy my wanderlust while my feet remain firmly planted on Canadian soil. I’m so excited! I hope you’ll join me in these new adventures.
When I planned my first big trip it was a life-changer: A year in Australia. Job left, apartment given up, almost everything into storage. I knew I wanted to explore the world, to get away from everything that was getting me down…and I wanted to go somewhere I could potentially surf every day.
Another place I had always wanted to visit was Japan. I am captivated by the culture, the language, the food… Lucky for me, my super knowledgeable travel agent scored me a flight with multiple stopovers on the way over and on the return route. So my first big stop on my first big trip was Tokyo!
I’m not going to lie—when I first arrived in Japan I was dealing with some serious separation anxiety. While I had been nothing but excited and well prepared in the months leading up to my trip, suddenly I was alone in a foreign land with a VERY heavy pack on my back. A pack that had to go EVERYWHERE with me. It had my whole life in it. Suddenly I was very aware of everything I was carrying with me—physically and emotionally.
Add to that a horrendous case of jet lag and the uncertain future that lay ahead and you can imagine how I felt. I was scared, lonely and exhausted. What I immediately noticed was that a huge comfort that I normally relied in stressful times, food, was missing.
Of course, they have food in Tokyo (in case I started to worry you!), but it was food that was so very different from what I am used to. I consider myself a very adventurous eater, but I’ve never been in a situation where everything is strange and new. Even breakfast was different. No comforting toast or buttered bagels, no muesli or strong coffee. We’re taking miso soup, rice, green tea…all great foods, but not my kinda foods…well, not for breakfast anyway.
Getting used to this new way of eating actually took much less time that I thought, and I began looking forward to rice for brekkie (especially because it was included in the price of my hotel—I’m a girl on a budget after all!). During this trip I realized that eating local, traditional foods can bring you closer to a new culture more quickly. You are inviting this new world into your life not just through your eyes and ears, but you are allowing it to become a part of you, through your stomach. And by eating these foods and exploring this charming city, Tokyo grew on me more and more each day that I was there and eventually found a permanent place in my heart.
It was these happy memories (albeit slow to come by) that prompted this week’s Travelling Tastebuds post. While I somehow came away from this trip without any great pictures of food (oh how I have grown since then!), I was inspired to recreate the experience at my favourite Toronto sushi stop, Sushi Inn.
I may sound like a bit of a sushi snob here, but this is the only place I eat sushi in the city. Not because I am unwilling to try new things–there are plenty of good sushi places in the city–but because I am just so enamored of this place.
The staff is friendly and efficient, everything on the menu is a hit, and the neighbourhood can’t be beat. Plus, the prices are fantastic. What else is there?
This time I sat right at the sushi bar, and got to watch the men masterfully preparing our meals with care and attention. It was like a dinner theatre experience! I was immediately transported back to Tokyo, with its intoxicating mix of hustle and bustle combined with a measured calm. And the kindest, most helpful citizens around.
My go-to order is the Dragon roll, with avocado and salmon. Oh, how I love salmon sashimi. Oh, and gyoza, those steaming hot Japanese dumplings. Then, for dessert, banana tempura and ice cream. What’s your favourite sushi dish?