Japanese cuisine
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Food and drink in Japan

Like many things in Japan, eating and drinking doesn't come cheap. However, don't let the expense take away from the enjoyment. With the multiplication of Japanese restaurants and sushi bars over here, you're unlikely to be entirely unfamiliar with some of the food, but there's a lot more to Japanese cuisine than raw fish and rice. Drinking is a popular recreation among the diurnally industrious Japanese, and in every isakiya (the Japanese version of pubs) you'll be able to nibble on yakitori - skewers of meat and vegetables ­- as you sip your expensive beer or sake.

On the subject of Japan 's national spirit, sake is served atsukan - warm in a small flask. In theory, it can also be served reisho - cold, in a little salt-rimmed box, but that is rare nowadays. Be careful - sake is very strong and hangover-inducing. It's easy to over-indulge, and if you do you'll wake up feeling like you've gone ten rounds with a Sumo.

Japanese food often comes with picture-perfect presentation, but there are plenty of hearty options if you're feeling too hungry to appreciate art. Ramen(Chinese-style noodle soup) bars proliferate and are often visited by hungry workers at the end of an evening. Niku jagga, a delicious beef stew flavoured with - you've guessed it, sake - is another filling option, as is tofu soup.

Soups are very popular in Japan, particularly the ubiquitous soy-based miso. If you're visiting Hiroshima or Osaka, you can compare the two different styles of okonomiyaki pancake. In Hiroshima, they fill it with cooked meat and vegetables, while in Osaka, they mix it all up. It's traditionally accompanied by yakisoba, fried noodles in a black sauce.

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