While I feel extremely lucky to live in Brisbane and enjoy all the dining options it has to offer, Japan was something else entirely. During our trip, I took note of the differences that are a little quirky but also could (read: should!) be enjoyed worldwide.
- Welcome to the sea of soy versus the perfect little splash – for some reason soy sauce in Australian restaurants comes out in a flood, whereas in Japan it’s the perfect little splash you need. Not sure how they design it but I approve!
- Machines for ordering – both ramen and curry joints had these and it was brilliant. Remove the middle man, all you need is a machine to pick your dish, pay and get a receipt and the chef whips it up. Ah technology…
- Vending machines – speaking of machines you had to know this one was coming. Better prices, better options and one on every corner, Japan’s vending machines are as good as you think! And the unusual drinks are an added bonus.
- Wet wipes – napkins are for peasants. Almost every dining experience came with wet wipes and now it’s really not the same getting a napkin back home…
- Reusable chopsticks and disposable ones with picks – restaurants didn’t give you the cheap and nasty, you got to step it up with a plastic pair (yeah, okay, still cheap but… the environment!). On the other hand, convenience stores (conbini) liked to include disposable sticks WITH a pick for your teeth. Spoiled.
- Cheaper, larger main meals, yet appropriate sized desserts – apart from a few exceptions, every meal was HUGE yet desserts were a nice few bites and it was just the right amount every time.
- Pictures in menus – yeah, so we sometimes have pictures, for some of the menu, but how often do you see a menu where every item has a photo? Even for the smallest places? Such a brilliant idea to overcome the language barrier. What you see is what you get!
- Staff personalities – speaking of language barrier, it’s amazing how much you tune in to body language and just the nice side of yourself and those around you when in a foreign country. Almost every person servicing us in Japan was sweet, friendly and grinning ear to ear. Everyone really is as polite as you are led to believe.
- “We welcome foreigners!” – that beautiful signage outside so many restaurants. Reading it now it seems tacky but this kind of sign just makes you feel a little more comfortable.
- Themed restaurants – perhaps one of my favourite things about Japan is their themed restaurants. Brisbane is slowly stepping up its game (I will have a blog on the alternatives here soon!) but the variety and effort in Japan is unparalleled.
Want any more info on any of the things I listed? Is there anything I missed (I’m sure I did!)? Leave a comment!