How does one know how to pick the good ones in a foreign country?
We found that the best way to find a restaurant to eat at in Japan is to move away from the main streets/central touristy areas and wonder down some other streets, and then take the paths that lead you down to the smaller streets/alleyways. You will find tucked away down these small streets and alleyways, quaint little restaurants that seat no more than 10-15 people and are also highly unlikely to have an English menu.
We felt that if the restaurant didn’t have an English menu, then you would be eating authentic Japanese food that the locals ate and not tourists.
Ordering food can be a challenge so it’s good idea to learn some simple Japanese words of the foods that you like eating, specifically the main component of a dish like fish, chicken, pork, tofu…then just say to the waiter “chicken” in Japanese (toriniku or chikin) and the waiter will mumble in Japanese some chicken dish. You will not understand what he/she is going on about but it doesn’t matter just say “hai” (yes in Japanese).
Take whatever dish the waiter tries to recommend to you. You will have no idea what they will bring out but I can assure you that whatever it is, it will be good because you can’t really fault Japanese food - so much importance is placed on the process of preparation and the presentation of food, it is bound to taste good.
So the best way to go about eating in Japan is to just let your ignorance guide your way…the results will be surprising….surprisingly good!