BENTO BOXES AND SUSHI ON THE HOP

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

Break­fast: Many ho­tels of­fer buf­fet break­fasts, but if you pre­fer to eat out, try one of Tokyo’s chain cafes, such as Dou­tour (black and yel­low sig­nage), Cafe de Crie (orange awnings) or Ex­cel­sior (green Star­bucks look-alike) for a light morn­ing meal with cof­fee, tea or fresh juices. Most of­fer break­fast set deals for Y=300 ($2.95) to Y=500 a per­son.

Lunch: Im­press the chil­dren with a trip to a kaiten-zushi (carousel sushi) restau­rant. Choose from dozens of seafood va­ri­eties, but beware the hot wasabi that ac­com­pa­nies squid and oc­to­pus. Side dishes such as udon noo­dles, rice, fresh fruit and ice cream are also avail­able. Shion, near Kirin City on the west side of Shin­juku Sta­tion, is one of Tokyo’s cheap­est and best run. Ex­pect to pay Y=100 a sushi serve, Y=200 for larger dishes.

An­other idea is a bento box pic­nic lunch. De­part­ment stores such as Daimaru, Jusco and Takashimaya have base­ment food courts where you can buy freshly made bento for Y=500 to Y=800. Grab a bot­tle of green tea at a street vend­ing ma­chine and you have lunch to go.

Din­ner: Iza­kaya restau­rants are the main­stay of the Tokyo fam­ily who dines out. Th­ese are lo­cal eateries serv­ing typ­i­cal Ja­panese dishes such as yaki-tori, sim­mered fish, tofu, fresh sal­ads and steamed or fried rice with pickles and miso soup.

The restau­rants range from an­cient to mod­ern in decor (and staff), but nearly all are wel­com­ing to fam­i­lies, though some­times din­ing ar­eas are a lit­tle smoky. In­di­vid­ual dishes are usu­ally small, so or­der­ing a se­lec­tion is a great idea if ev­ery­one wants a taste.

For drinks, Kirin and Asahi lager beers are al­ways avail­able by the bot­tle ( bin-biru ) or off the tap ( nama-biru ), as are flasks of warm and cold sake. Pop­u­lar non­al­co­holic drinks in­clude oo­long tea, fruit juices and Calpis, a yo­ghurt-flavoured soft drink Ja­panese kids love.

Nuts and bolts: Restau­rant hours are gen­er­ally 11am to 11pm, though iza­kaya open their doors about 6pm. Sumi-masen (ex­cuse me, I’d like to or­der) is the most use­ful phrase for get­ting a waiter’s at­ten­tion. Tip­ping is not nec­es­sary but when you pay (at the cash reg­is­ter) a 5 per cent con­sumer tax will be added to the bill. More: www.bento.com/toky­ofood.html. Si­mon Rowe

Child’s play: Keep the young­sters happy in the Ja­panese cap­i­tal with Poke­mon-themed trains and ki­mono-clad Mickey Mouse at Tokyo Dis­ney­land or there’s al­ways time for Fris­bee or a fun swim

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