Our editors have scoured the globe to bring you the top destinations to satisfy your every craving. Whether you're hungry for exotic cuisine or thirsty for a cold one, we've got you covered.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Photograph by Mark Eden, Alamy
The sidewalks of Ho Chi Minh City are crammed with food vendors; as you walk down the street, you’ll find yourself surrounded by cars and customers seated in plastic chairs. Innovative street cooks boil soup over simple burners and grill meat over charcoal grills. But even these humble delicacies strive for the Vietnamese culinary ideal—a balance of sweet, sour, spicy, bitter, and salty.
This beguiling cuisine is a fusion of some great culinary traditions, like French and Chinese, combined with tropical ingredients and fresh herbs. The country’s culinary culture is now opening up to more influences as Vietnam increases trade with foreign countries. The government has also made it easier for Viet kieu, or Vietnamese who have lived abroad, to return. They’re often coming back to start businesses like XU Restaurant and Lounge, run by Bien Nguyen, an Australian born to Vietnamese parents. As Vietnam’s largest and most dynamic city, the biggest impact is felt here.
What to Eat: Order pork and crab spring rolls and shrimp paste wrapped around sugarcane at Nhà Hàng Ngon while you dine inside a colonial mansion. Try báhn xèo, rice flour crepes filled with pork and shrimp, at Quan 94. Follow the line of motorbikes to Bánh Mì Huynh Hoa for classic Vietnamese baguette sandwiches. The bread is toasted over charcoal and filled with cold cuts, pâté, and pickled vegetables.
What to Drink: French colonizers originally brought coffee to Indochina during the 19th century. Today, creamy Vietnamese-style iced coffee is typically brewed with a metal filter placed over a glass holding spoonfuls of sweetened condensed milk. One of the nation’s largest coffee chains, Trung Nguyen, has outposts all over Ho Chi Minh City.
Edible Souvenir: Cacao has been widely cultivated in Vietnam since the 1990s, but the industry didn’t receive serious attention until recently. Now French expats Vincent Mourou and Samuel Maruta, the owners of Marou Chocolate, are buying beans straight from the farmers in Vietnam and making single-origin chocolate bars at their facility in Ho Chi Minh City. Buy them at design-focused L’Usine—a combination store and café housed in a historic building.
Food Experience: The piles of mysterious mollusks stacked next to some food vendors are both alluring and intimidating. Vietnamese-Australian couple Barbara Adam and Vu Vo operate Saigon Street Eats and specialize in guiding tourists through these sidewalk treats, offering three different tours. Motorbikes shuttle participants to a meeting spot on famous Nguyen Thuong Hien Street. With the couple’s help, tourists order crab, oysters, mussels, and scallops from vendors. Occasionally, tour participants will get a chance to try fertilized duck egg topped with tamarind sauce.
Cultural Tip: Vietnamese meals aren’t paced as a succession of courses. Even at restaurants, dishes are usually brought to the table whenever they’re ready.
Fun fact: Fish sauce is so vital to the country’s cooking that there are at least four different ways to say it in the Vietnamese language.
By Meredith Bethune
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Photograph by Lola Akinmade Åkerström, Redux
A much more cosmopolitan city has emerged in Belfast, Northern Ireland, ever since the Good Friday Agreement brought peace to the city over 17 years ago. This new prosperity has contributed to many positive developments in Belfast, including a vibrant food scene. Pub culture has always been strong here, but now residents are learning to appreciate craft beer thanks to the Hilden Brewing Company, while local restaurants Ox and EIPIC were recently awarded Michelin stars.
Belfast’s easy access to top-notch food products keeps the local culinary scene buzzing. Northern Ireland’s immaculate farmland yields heirloom produce, grass-fed meats, and dairy fit for artisan cheesemaking, while shellfish and salmon are harvested from the surrounding seas. The government has designated 2016 the “Year of Food and Drink” in Northern Ireland, and Belfast will celebrate the region’s food traditions while looking to the future.
What to Eat: Sample products from across Northern Ireland with the “Taste of Ulster” board at Robinson & Cleaver. It includes Irish ham hock hash, duck liver pâté, homemade Guinness wheaten bread, and Madeira wine jelly. Try smoked salmon from nearby the Glenarm Organic Salmon farm at Mourne Seafood Bar and a classic Ulster fry of breakfast meats, egg, tomato, mushrooms, soda bread, and potato bread at Cast & Crew.
What to Drink: The Irish maintain that the first whiskey was made in Ireland, not Scotland. Try Irish whiskey at the Old Bushmills Distillery, located about an hour north of Belfast. In operation since 1608, it’s said to be the world’s oldest legal distillery.
Edible Souvenir: Robert Ditty is a second-generation baker and general booster for Northern Ireland’s local foodways. Buy his beloved triangular oat biscuits in flavors like celery and pepper at fine food store Arcadia Delicatessen. They’re the perfect complement to Ireland’s many artisan cheeses.
Food Experience: On Saturdays (and some Fridays and Sundays), locals lead groups on tasting tours. Belfast Food Tours includes samples of 20 local foods and drinks, stops at specialty shops, and introductions to food producers at the St. George’s Market.
Cultural Tip: Many pubs and some restaurants are closed on Sundays in Northern Ireland. Yet Sunday lunch remains popular, so consider making reservations at an open restaurant.
Fun Fact: A rich baking tradition spread across Northern Ireland when Scottish settlers immigrated to Ulster—part of present-day Northern Ireland—in the 16th and 17th centuries. There are small bakeries thriving in almost every town and village.
Photograph by Tueremis, laif/Redux
Thanks to periods of both Christian and Muslim rule until the 15th century, the cuisine of beachside Antalya blends influences from both cultures. Surrounded by the snowcapped Taurus Mountains, the city also boasts nearby olive groves, citrus orchards, and fresh seafood pulled from the turquoise Mediterranean Sea.
Tourists dine seaside on fish kebabs, octopus, and plates of colorful mezze. With a large variety of both casual lokantas and upscale restaurants, Antalya is the ideal location for hosting this year’s Expo 2016, which covers horticulture, agriculture, and other topics. More than five million visitors are expected to attend.
What to Eat: Experience Turkish flavors in European dishes at Vanilla Lounge. The restaurant serves white bean and tahini soup and lamb, mint, and pea risotto in a sophisticated setting. For more traditional fare, seek out grouper kebabs or fried red mullet from the Mediterranean—usually available between July and October—at seaside restaurant İskele. Complete the meal with a round of mezze plates like hummus, red pepper spread, or purslane salad.
What to Drink: Raki, an anise-flavored brandy that is quite similar to Greek ouzo, is Turkey’s favorite drink. It turns cloudy when mixed with water or ice, and it’s typically consumed with a meal of mezze and grilled fish. There’s no better place to try it than at one of Antalya’s oldest restaurants like 7 Mehmet, a waterfront spot specializing in seafood.
Edible Souvenir: Jams are a key component of lavish Turkish breakfasts, and Antalya and the surrounding region are particularly well known for making the sweet spreads. Visit Yenigun, one of the country’s biggest producers, for a huge selection of jams in unique flavors like eggplant, watermelon, and rose.
Food Experience: Try catching some seafood of your own with Green Canyon boat tours. The tour company provides all of the equipment for the fishing expeditions around the emerald waters, located about ten miles from Antalya.
Cultural Tip: It’s best to avoid using your left hand when eating from a communal dish in Turkey. Use your right hand to dip bread into communal bowls.
Fun Fact: Although many Americans associate baklava with Greece, the pastry was likely first made in what is now Turkey during the 13th century.
Photograph by Peter Jordan, Alamy
Sicily is historically a culinary crossroads. Greeks brought olives and grapes, Arabs added sugarcane and spices, and the Spanish threw in tomatoes and chocolate. Thanks to beloved volcano Mount Etna, the island’s fertile soils have regularly produced a bounty of olives, pistachios, and fruits, while the surrounding seas are brimming with seafood.
The island is also a new frontier for Italian wines. Innovative young winemakers are taking advantage of Sicily’s reasonable property costs and rediscovering many of the island’s indigenous grape varietals like Nero d'Avola, Cattarratto, Nerello Mascalese, and Grillo.
What to Eat: Family-operated Pasticceria Palazzolo has operated in Palermo since 1920. It’s renowned for Sicilian specialty cassata, a sponge cake with layers of sheep’s milk ricotta, almond paste, and white icing topped with candied fruit. Also try Sicily’s many deep-fried delicacies—a legacy of Arab influence—like arancini, meat-filled rice balls, at I Cuochini in Palermo and crunchy cuttlefish, shrimp, and squid at La Tavernetta da Piero on the island of Ortigia in Syracuse.
What to Drink: Sip fragrant Marsala wine, which is traditionally served as an aperitif, in the city where it’s produced. Local bar La Sirena Ubriaca serves sweet, dry, and every variation in between alongside snacks like bruschetta topped with pistachio pesto, mulberry jam, or bottarga pâté made with cured fish roe.
Edible Souvenir: The west coast of Sicily is home to some of Europe’s oldest salt marshes. Trapani sea salt is unwashed, untreated, and hand processed using traditional salt pans and is said to retain a distinct flavor. Buy a bag of it at gourmet shop Bazar del Miele in the city of Trapani.
Food Experience: Visit one of Sicily’s up-and-coming winemakers. Stemmari in Sambuca offers guided tours in English Monday through Friday. The winery also offers guided tastings of their wines, like the native Sicilian Grillo or a rich Nero d’Avola. Schedule in advance by e-mail.
Cultural Tip: Sicilians take pranzo, the main midday meal, quite seriously. Stores often close from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. so employees can return home to eat.
Fun Fact: According to legend, the famous Sicilian dish of pasta con le sarde (bucatini pasta with sardines, fennel, pine nuts, and raisins) was first assembled in 827 when Admiral Euphemius of Messina returned from Tunisia.
Staff Tip: Whether you travel to Sicily by plane or boat—your two options—among the first things you'll see when you arrive are vineyard-covered slopes and fields of fruit and olive trees: Wine and fresh produce are central to Sicilian life. In fact, Sicily now ranks as one of Italy's top wine producers. Typical foods to try: Chicken Marsala at a restaurant in the town of Marsala; pasta with sea urchin; caponata, made with local eggplant and pine nuts; pasta with Trapanese pesto (basil mixed with Sicilian almonds); and hand-crafted chocolate from the southern town of Modica. To drink, it's wine and more wine. Indigenous grape varietals to look for include Nero d'Avola, Zibibbo, Malvasia, Grecanico, Grillo, and Nerello. Keep an eye out for local labels such as Spadafora, Donnafugata, Planeta, Graci, and Occhipinti. —Jayne Wise, senior editor, National Geographic Traveler
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
Photograph by Tyler Darden, Rappahannock Restaurant
Southern cuisine can trace its roots back to Virginia, home of the first permanent settlements in the American South. While nearby Washington, D.C., and southern culinary titan Charleston, South Carolina, are both regarded among the U.S.’s best food cities, Richmond’s blend of English, Native American, and African-American influences help the city stand out.
Chefs in this capital city with plenty of charm are now whipping up southern cuisine with a contemporary flair. Simultaneously, purveyors are rediscovering colonial-era Virginia ingredients like local peanuts, old-fashioned country ham, and seafood from the Chesapeake Bay. Those in the industry are also taking notice of their booming craft brewery scene. Local brewers such as Ardent Craft Ales and Strangeways Brewing have made a name for themselves, while California-based Stone Brewing Company plans to undergo a massive expansion to the city in early 2016.
What to Eat: Indulge in pork “fries”—deep-fried logs of pulled pork—at trendy Heritage and try Chesapeake Bay oysters at Rappahannock, products of a recently restored population (although the populations are still suffering). You can get peanut butter pie or an appetizer of pimento cheese, BBQ pork rinds, and pickles at the Roosevelt, run by local restaurateur Kendra Feather.
What to Drink: It’s said that Thomas Jefferson considered cider a necessary table drink. Artisan cider, with as many subtleties and nuances as wine, is currently undergoing a revival in the third president’s beloved home state. Visit the tasting room at Blue Bee Cider in downtown Richmond to try their rotating selection of small-batch ciders.
Edible Souvenir: Stop by Belmont Butchery for some of owner Tanya Cauthen’s famous handcrafted bacon. It’s cured simply with salt, sugar, and spices and then smoked over hickory wood.
Food Experience: Explore the city’s thriving craft beer scene with Richmond Brewery Tours. Tickets include round-trip transportation, complimentary snacks, a guided tour of one of the breweries, and a tasting flight at three different breweries. Tours are given Thursday through Sunday.
Cultural Tip: You will sometimes see country ham called Virginia or Smithfield ham on Richmond restaurant menus. This traditional product is cured with salt and seasonings and then hung to dry in a smokehouse for several months.
Fun Fact: Mary Randolph of Richmond published one of the earliest southern cookbooks in 1824. The Virginia Housewife contains some of the first written recipes for classic dishes like fried chicken, stewed okra, and corn bread.
Staff Tip: Richmond is all about the beer scene right now. Stone Brewing, a popular West Coast staple, is planning to open its first facility on the East Coast in the Greater Fulton area of Richmond in early 2016, adding to the list of well-established brewers in the area. Their plans include a brewery, packaging hall, and farm-to-table restaurant. Looking for something more immediate? Richmond is also home to Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, where you can sample award-winning libations, including my personal favorite—the Great Return, a West Coast-style India pale ale. Head to their tasting room every Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m. for seasonal drafts and their year-round food-truck court. —Megan Heltzel Weiler, @MeganHeltzel, producer, National Geographic Travel
Photograph by Lutz Jaekel, laif/Redux
Morocco's lush cuisine is full of textures and colors rooted in Berber, Moorish, and Arab influences. There’s always a rainbow of raw salads and plenty of sweet and sour ingredients like saffron, preserved lemons, and dried fruits in Moroccan cuisine. These are paired with ingredients like olives, olive oils, and herbs.
Lively Marrakech is an ideal place to learn about Morocco’s flavors. The “Red City” has a long tradition of tourism, as visitors wade through the kebab stands and other food vendors on the chaotic Djemma el Fna main square. Today Marrakech is home to young chefs who are reinterpreting old standard dishes, as well as multicourse tasting menus that are appearing at stylish restaurants inside boutique Moroccan riad hotels.
What to Eat: Splurge on chef Omar El Ouahssoussi’s five-course tasting menu at Gastro MK. His European takes on Moroccan cuisine include beetroot-cured gravlax with preserved lemon puree and ravioli of lentils and cauliflower. Make up for the pricey meal at the food stalls in Djemma el Fna with inexpensive egg and potato sandwiches, lamb tagine, and bowls of Morocco’s famous harira soup.
What to Drink: Admire a view of the main square while sipping on mint tea at Café de France. Morocco’s most popular drink is made by soaking tea leaves in a pot with boiling water to remove bitterness. The water is then discarded and fresh water, more leaves, and sugar are then added. The process is repeated several times, and the tea is then poured from metal pots into elaborately decorated glasses.
Edible Souvenir: Every Moroccan spice vendor sells his own signature blend of ras el hanout, often used as a meat rub or added to couscous. It can contain up to 20 aromatic spices such as coriander, cumin, dried orange peel, fennel seeds, caraway, cinnamon, cardamom, or peppercorns. Buy it in the Mellah, the city’s old Jewish quarter, which is said to be home to the best spice dealers in Marrakech.
Food Experience: Decipher the city’s food culture with the help of Moroccan-American couple Youssef and Amanda Mouttaki. Marrakech Food Tours guides tourists through a progressive meal of street food dishes like merguez and kefta, pastries, and the Marrakech specialty of slow-cooked lamb, or tagine. Those who want to try Morocco’s offal specialties—think spleen sandwiches and roasted sheep head—should opt for an evening tour when these vendors come out.
Cultural Tip: Non-Muslim visitors aren’t expected to fast during Ramadan, but it can be considered offensive to eat or drink in public while the rest of the city is observing.
Fun Fact: Moroccans typically start a home-cooked meal with four different salads, but you can expect to see at least a dozen small plates at high-end restaurants in Marrakech.
Photograph by Mariana Bazo, Reuters/Corbis
Many travelers are visiting the Peruvian capital right now simply to eat. Last year, three Lima restaurants were included in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. These inventive, chef-driven restaurants often do playful takes on Peru’s many distinct culinary traditions. Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino seeks out obscure Amazonian ingredients, while Gastón Acurio thinks nothing of cooking up traditional cuy, or guinea pig, in his trendy establishments. There’s a growing interest in cocktail mixology using pisco, a type of brandy. Despite its trendy reputation, Lima still has plenty of rustic neighborhood huariques, laid-back cevicherias, and informal chifas that specialize in Peruvian-Chinese fusion cuisine.
What to Eat; Experience fried guinea pig and empanadas filled with lomo saltado at Panchita, a restaurant owned by Acurio, one of Peru’s most famous chefs. Get ceviche of sole, salmon, and tuna with lime juice and chili peppers at Pescados Capitales. Also try Schiaffino’s giant Amazonian snails in sofrito and chorizo sauce at Amaz.
What to Drink: Jewel-toned chicha morada is made from purple corn and pineapple and then flavored with cinnamon and sugar. The beverage dates back to pre-Columbian times. Try it at the Centro Histórico location of Tanta, which overlooks Lima’s City Hall.
Edible Souvenir: Pick up a bottle or two of pisco, the most popular spirit in Peru. The brandy was first distilled during the 16th century, when Spanish colonists brought grapevines to Peru to provide an alternative to the fermented corn drinks made by indigenous people. Get it at Almendariz, one of the most well known liquor stores in Lima.
Food Experience: Participate in a one-hour ceviche and pisco sour class with Lima Gourmet Company. It includes an introduction to the history of the spirit, a tasting, and a hands-on class for making pisco sour and ceviche.
Cultural Tip: Before the days of refrigeration, ceviche was only eaten during the day because fresh fish would spoil before nightfall. Most Peruvians still eat ceviche only during the afternoon, and many of Lima’s traditional cevicherias are only open for lunch.
Fun Fact: Chifa cuisine—which includes dishes like fried rice, wontons, and stir-fry—is the legacy of Chinese contract laborers that came to Peru during the 19th century.
Photograph courtesy Ester Restaurant
Although Sydney was founded over 225 years ago, the city’s dining scene didn’t come into its own until recently. Since World War II, migrants from countries around the world have come to Australia’s largest city and left their culinary mark. The city has natural assets and a varied climate, yielding raw products like pineapples, avocados, berries, beef, and lamb, as well as seafood like barramundi, prawns, and oysters.
It’s no wonder internationally renowned chefs have decided to set up shop in Sydney. David Chang opened his first restaurant outside of the United States with Momofuku Seiōbo in 2011. Now famed Danish chef René Redzepi is hosting a ten-week pop-up version of his restaurant Noma in Sydney, starting in January.
What to Eat: Slurp oysters at the Sydney Fish Market. Try the seasonal menu of Chinese and native Australian cuisine at Billy Kwong, with menu items like crispy saltbush cakes with chili sauce and red-braised caramelized wallaby tail. Ester does a spin on Australia’s favorite dessert, the pavlova. The chewy, wood-fired meringue is filled with ingredients that change regularly; think passion fruit curd, elderflower cream, macadamia nuts, or freeze-dried oranges.
What to Drink: The wine industry has been thriving in Australia since the 1950s. The vast country has many types of soil and climates, and it boasts over 100 grape varieties. Some of the most common grapes are Chardonnay, Shiraz (or Syrah), and Pinot Noir. There’s also been a recent increase in Mediterranean varieties like Tempranillo and Sangiovese. Explore some of these less common wines at Nomad, where the entire list hails from Australia.
Edible Souvenir: Australians have been eating Tim Tam cookies (or biscuits) for over 50 years. The sandwich cookie is filled with chocolate cream and then covered in chocolate. Fifty years after Arnott’s starting producing it, it remains Australia’s most iconic sweet treat, with Australians consuming 45 million packs per year.
Food Experience: Australia is one of the nations with the highest per capita consumption of meat in the world, so it’s no surprise Sydney is home to a world-class butcher shop. Victor Churchill, established in 1876, is like a pristine shrine to meat. It boasts a floor-to-ceiling glass-walled cool room, where specialty cuts are kept on display as they are aged. Check the online calendar and register for a butchery class, or attend one of the meat cookery classes the shop holds periodically.
Cultural Tip: “Teatime” doesn’t necessarily mean consuming the hot drink. It can refer to the evening meal, or what Americans would call dinner. Australians also have “afternoon tea” and “morning tea”—both light snacks in between meals.
Fun Fact: Aboriginals traditionally relied on kangaroo meat, but most Australians aren’t interested in eating it today. More than 70 percent of this exclusively wild-harvested meat is exported.
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Photograph by Peter Frank Edwards, Redux
With its distinct cuisine, New Orleans has always been an American food destination. The rich and soulful cuisine was shaped largely by the American-born descendants of French settlers, as well as by Spanish and African-American cultures. Another influx of immigrants left their mark in the form of German sausages, Caribbean peppers, and seafood harvested by Croatian fishermen. Classic New Orleans restaurants like Arnaud’s and Galatoire’s are still in operation today. Ten years ago, this gastronomically inclined city was heavily damaged after Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters inundated the city. Today there are actually 75 percent more restaurants in the city than there were before the disaster.
What to Eat: The newest addition to acclaimed chef John Besh’s family of restaurants is a surprising one. Try chef Alon Shaya’s Israeli cuisine at Shaya. There’s ikra (paddlefish caviar spread with shallots) and hummus with lamb ragù. Next, indulge in a hot roast beef and gravy po’boy at Parkway Bakery and Tavern. Go to Commander’s Palace, a Garden District classic, for its rich bread pudding soufflé with whiskey sauce. It’s their most popular dessert and is always made to order.
What to Drink: The Vieux Carré cocktail, a combination of rye whiskey, cognac, vermouth, and bitters, was supposedly invented by bartender Walter Bergeron in New Orleans in 1938. Order one where it was first mixed—at the bar at the Hotel Monteleone. Grab one of the 25 seats at the spinning Carousel Bar if one is available.
Edible Souvenir: New Orleans’ other famous sandwich, the giant muffuletta, is a legacy of Italian immigration to New Orleans in the 19th century. It’s comprised of a round loaf of bread sliced in half and filled with cold cuts, cheese, and an oily salad of green and black olives, carrots, peppers, and herbs. You can buy jars of the salad to take home at Central Grocery, the originator and most famous maker of the sandwich.
Food Experience: At Langlois Culinary Crossroads, chef and cookbook author Amy Sins offers classes on gumbo, seafood boils, and otherLouisiana favorites at her facility in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood.
Cultural Tip: The Gulf Coast is home to some of the largest Vietnamese-American communities in the country. Bánh mì sandwiches are easy to find in New Orleans, but they’re often called “Vietnamese po’boys.”
Fun Fact: The Choctaw introduced filé (sassafras powder) to the Louisiana Creole cooks. It’s now a vital ingredient in gumbo and valued for its thickening properties.
Staff Tip: For a more homegrown and low-key version of Mardi Gras, skip the French Quarter and search out one of the smaller neighborhood celebrations, like the Society of St. Anne parade in the Bywater. My friends Janelle and Krista did that, writing about their experience for Traveler magazine. Be sure to wear a costume, because you can't just watch the St. Anne parade—you have to dance in it, too. For non-Mardi Gras things to do, read "The New New Orleans" by Traveler contributing editor Andrew Nelson, who lives in the city. —Marilyn Terrell, @Marilyn_Res, chief researcher, National Geographic Traveler
Photograph by EDU Vision/Alamy
Food is everywhere in Tokyo—you’ll find huge selections of onigiri (stuffed rice balls) in train stations and colorful pieces of sushi passing by on conveyor belts. There are more than 100,000 restaurants in this sprawling city, including casual spots specializing in modestly priced meals like hot pots, soba, tonkatsu, and tempura. Yet Tokyo’s cuisine can seem nearly impenetrable to the foreign visitor.
Tokyo’s food often incorporates many unfamiliar fish ingredients. In fact, 2,000 tons of seafood passes through the famous Tsukiji market daily. The world’s largest fish market has operated in the heart of Tokyo since 1935, but next year it’s moving several miles away to Toyosu, Tokyo’s tourist district, for a variety of political and logistical reasons surrounding the 2020 Summer Olympics.
What to Eat: Experience the ultimate in Japanese cuisine with a visit to Waketokuyama, a kaiseki restaurant run by famous chef Hiromitsu Nozaki. Meals include anywhere from eight to fourteen courses, which change daily depending on the availability of painstakingly sourced and plated ingredients. Casual Japanese restaurants typically specialize in one dish, perfecting it over years and years. Try Mentsu-Dan in Shinjuku for fresh udon, made right behind the counter, or Tempura Tsunahachi, where you can sit at the counter and watch your food get fried.
What to Drink: Japanese whiskey by brands like Suntory and Nikka are gaining popularity throughout the world. The most popular way for the Japanese to drink it is in highball cocktails, where the gentle spirit is combined with ice and sparkling water. The ideal way to serve it is in a stainless steel glass that keeps the drink cold. Try the Black Freezing Highball at the Nikka Blender’s Bar, which is owned by the famous whiskey brand.
Edible Souvenir: Rice is a vital staple in the Japanese diet and is essential to the cuisine. Suzunobu is the city’s most famous rice shop. Owner Toyozo Nishijima’s shop carries over 120 brands from across the country.
Food Experience: Explore the confounding world of Tokyo’s depachikas, sprawling food markets found in the basements of department stores, with Yukari and Shinji Sakamoto. Yukari is a chef, sommelier, and the author of the excellent Food Sake Tokyo guidebook, and the food professionals offer tailored tours through the food emporiums.
Cultural Tip: It’s normal to hear diners slurping while eating in Tokyo ramen or soba shops, as the behavior is not considered to be bad manners. Actually, it’s completely acceptable behavior that shows enjoyment of the dish.
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