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Exotic/Bizarre/Interesting Food in Tokyo??

I will be heading to Tokyo next year and I would love to try things that are uncommon to a westerner. Any suggestions or recommendations?? After reading some threads I will def look to try some horse sashimi.

Also, any sushi/sashimi I should look to try besides chicken, horse, and whale?? Those 3 I have read are a treat.

Also, any suggestions on getting around when you speak and read 0 japanese?

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  1. There is a whale restaurant in Shibuya that has an English menu (I think!)

    1. Try the tonkatsu sando, if you want bizarre.

      14 Replies
      1. re: Uncle Yabai

        Fried pork cutlet sandwich? Why is that bizarre? LOL Sounds like a chicken parm sandwich without the cheese and sauce.

            1. re: tjr

              I heard somewhere that taste is subjective...

              1. re: Uncle Yabai

                Hence why it looks appetizing (or not), depending on perspective :-)

                1. re: tjr

                  Never know tonkatsu sando would arouse such passionate debate...

              2. re: tjr

                If you want a truly bizarre sandwich, you can do a lot better than tokatsu sando: strawberry or banana sandwich. Yes - slices of bananas or strawberries with a bit of a white cream sandwiched between two slices of bread. While with a tonkatsu sando the sando bit is superflous, it is positively offensive with fruit.

                1. re: Asomaniac

                  "Vegetable" sandwich with a slice of ham is baffling as well.

                  1. re: tjr

                    Many years ago out of the goodness of their hearts the overlords of my old office supplied us with free sandwiches. One particular sandwich I will never forget was hotaru ika (whole baby squid) and potato salad on white bread. I don't think there is anyplace you could actually buy one, but I can testify that such a thing did exist.

          1. re: Uncle Yabai

            Weird, that's a go to sandwich for most people I know.

            1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

              It's my go to sandwich since I was like 3 years old.

              1. re: kobetobiko

                Yeah, that and Japanese style Chow Mein sandwiches.

                  1. re: tjr

                    Yeah, sort of. Only not in a hotdog like bun. More on some ghetto japanese home cooked style that doesn't outright have a specific name. But yeah, basically.

          2. While I do not enjoy any of the chicken, horse or whale sashimi, how about some fish milt (白子 shirako) ?

            6 Replies
            1. re: skylineR33

              While others may want to indulge, I think I draw the line at mollusk sperm. LOL Unless of course it is delicious? What about Funazushi or any kind of salted fish roe sacks?

              1. re: FoodDude2

                I don't think it is delicious, its taste and texture are not for everyone. For roe, maybe you want to try out Karasumi (mullet roe) ? It is kind of expensive, but it is also a famous food that can be found in Taiwan and Greece..etc, not only Japan.

                1. re: skylineR33

                  I love karasumi. My Italian grandmother used to cure it from scratch (called Bottarga in Italy) and we'd eat it with crusty bread and butter.

                  1. re: Uncle Yabai

                    Bottarga can be tuna roe as well, and yes, it's delicious.

                2. re: FoodDude2

                  Dont be too quick to write it off though. Remember, Uni is actually Sea Urchin gonads. In whole form... And Uni is delicious.

                3. re: skylineR33

                  LOVE shirako. can't get enough in Japan or NYC!

                4. You can always try Konowata (sea cucumber insides) or Konoko (sea cucumber ovaries). There is also Takonoko (octopus ovaries). As far as fish milt goes, Mashirako is best.

                  If you're interested in sacks the ovaries come in cured sacks called Bachiko.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                    Thanks. Those sound like exactly what I was looking for. Any suggestions on places to get these items??

                    1. re: FoodDude2

                      Hmmm, when I have them it's usually a special occasion/holiday with family, or it's included in Kaiseki meals I've had. I can't however recommend a restaurant that would specialize in any of these items.

                      Getting around speaking 0 japanese and being able to read 0 japanese won't be a huge problem cause most things are in english. However, not being able to speak/read japanese will limit you a bit as a lot of the best places gastronomically speaking don't have employees that understand english and don't have english menus.

                      You can pick up quite a bit in a year though...

                      1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                        Most of the items like shirako and Konowata are available in the US! Horse, Whale are indeed limited in Japan (or at least very very rare in the US)

                    1. Would suppon qualify as exotic? It's winter delicacy and it is really good as nabe. This guy at Maki speaks English or their staff did anyway.

                      1. Also, you could try Okoze, which is scorpion fish. SImilar to Fugu in taste and texture.

                        1. If you are into crazy riffs on the burger, there is this random place called Monster Burger in the Decks Mall in Odaiba. Their burgers are more like small sandwiches on rectangular toast, but the Monster Burger is a stack of three pinned together (blt, teriyaki, and regular) It kind of oozes mayonnaise, because they really love that stuff over here. It's fun to share and definitely unique.
                          (real life pix) http://www.somewherethesunisrising.co...
                          (rest. info) http://www.musclepark.jp/monsterburge...

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: somewherethesunisrising

                            My brother really disliked his Monster Burger when he visited a few years back. I didn't try it, but he mentioned that the toast was more like french toast, kind of sweet. If you do go for burgers, I suggest MosBurger or Freshness Burger. Cheap and different

                            1. re: lost squirrel

                              You can always go to Wendy's as well to see what the featured burger is. I've had Curry Chicken and Aspara Bacon burgers in the past.

                              1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                I think now they have a 'bacon mushroom demi-glace _____something i forget burger'

                                  1. re: lost squirrel

                                    Pseudo demi-glace sauce is one of my weaknesses.

                            2. Just had raw pork brains for the first time and it was actually very good. Similar to shirako but creamier and softer (if you can imagine that). We had it as Shinjuku Sanchome's Saiseisakaba, a famous tachinomi (standing bar).

                              1. I've had horse sashimi in Osaka. It was very good but not that bizarre-tasting. Think steak tartare. The horses are raised for their meat.

                                1. Pork liver sashimi-it's usually drizzled with sesame oil and shoyu, not my favorite but interesting texturally.
                                  Super fresh shirako all the way!
                                  Does mayo on pizza or tacos count as bizarre?!

                                  1. Last time I was in town, a local was going to take me out for chicken sashimi somewhere in Shinjuku.

                                    There's also a restaurant that specializes in turtle somehwere in Ginza I believe.

                                    1. Oh, and if you're in the mood for some atypical ice cream, head on over to the Sunshine City Mall in Ikeburo, home of Ice Cream City (within the food-oriented Namja Town theme park). Some 300 flavors ranging from the straightforward to the downright bizarre (crab ice cream anyone?). When I visited, I picked up five exotic flavors and then headed back to my The Peninsula where I sampled them and recorded my reactions.


                                      Uh, interesting.

                                      1. Here is an a list of some hormone (naizo) restaurants in Tokyo:


                                        1. A lot of yakitori places have other dishes that might be bizarre to a Westerner - Toriyoshi in Meguro does GREAT gristle, also hearts etc and they serve chicken sashimi too!