Tune into Tokyo Food

Tune into Tokyo Food

We had the opportunity to immerse ourselves in Tokyo recently. We left feeling beyond energized and a bit frazzled due to the language barrier, but inspired nonetheless. Here are few stand outs from walking down dark alleys and hanging out in small rooms over four days.


Japanese Beverage & Food Packaging Design

SQUEEZE PACKS GALORE!

While we have seen these slowly taking off State side, typically in the form of kid’s snacks, they have hit the Japanese market head on with unusual food/drink categories. It was an eye opening experience to see all kinds of products including water, cold brew, ice cream, energy packs, and protein. It made us think we are a bit behind the curve on the squeeze pack trend. One of the juice spots we visited, Sunshine Juice, even put their freshly made smoothie in a to-go pack.

02-inic-instant-coffee

INSTANT COFFEE

We’ve been eyeing instant coffee in the States recently, with the launch of Alpine Start, Sudden, and INIC, seen here in Tokyo. We are seeing this as the third wave of instant coffee, post Folgers and Starbuck’s VIA.

03-vending-machine

VENDING MACHINES

The convenience fueled beverage theme in the Japanese market continued as we saw vending machines everywhere. These mostly contained coffee, water, and juice.

04-shots-shots-shot

SHOTS, SHOTS, SHOTS!

We spotted tons of shot-sized servings on the shelf, with various benefits including ginseng, energy, and amino acids, which differ slightly from the commonly seen ginger shots in the US.

05-juice-shelf-shot

SHELF MADNESS

We were baffled by this juice shelf set. While it’s extremely organized and many of the brands have dual facings, it felt very cluttered coming from the US, where we have different structures, images and hierarchy to help avoid this mess.

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TRUST IN AMERICA

Japanese based brand, Lombard Popcorn, touts San Francisco quality on the front of their packaging to bring authenticity and trust.

07-sambazon

MIX BEAUTY

While we did notice a few US brands in Tokyo, they weren’t very prevalent which emphasizes that understanding your market is key. Sambazon Acai went as far as renaming one of their products Mix Beauty, as Japanese like to associate antioxidants with beauty.

08-donuts

US BRANDS IN TOKYO

While there were few US brands in Tokyo as we noticed storefronts belonging to US brands around Tokyo, including Portland, OR based company Camden’s Blue Donuts (known as Blue Star Donuts) and San Francisco’s well known Blue Bottle Coffee.

09-farmers-market-unu

FARMERS MARKET

As we always do when in foreign local, we discovered Tokyo’s Farmers Market. Quite similar to what we see in the states, the Farmers Market at UNU offered a blend of fresh produce, craft beer, packaged goods, and food trucks.

10-blue-moon

BROOKLYN IN TOKYO

We stopped by Commune 246, an outdoor food court and experienced a vibrant area hopping with hipsters eating various Asian cuisines. AB’s owned Blue Moon had a booth, and of course there was some flare touting Brooklyn’s Brooklyn Fries.


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CRAFT BEER

The Japanese love their craft beer; craft brews galore, whether they were imported or Tokyo’s own Spring Valley Brewery.


12-paletas-menu

POPSICLES!

Popsicle shops are all the rage in Tokyo; with unique flavors that are all over the map, like Salty Mango and Tamato Basilico.

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TEA PAIRING

We had many different dining experiences in Tokyo but two especially stood out. During our lunch at Narisawa, we opted for their tea pairings instead of thewine/sake, as we still had hours of walking the city. We tasted over 9 different teas throughout the meal with each course. Each tea went perfectly well with each flavor. We believe teas have the opportunity to play a larger part of dining beyond traditional black iced tea.


14-use-this-sawada

 

OVERALL

A general theme we felt throughout our trip is Japanese are extremely passionate and dedicated to their craft. This was very apparent during our two-hour sushi meal with Koji Sawada, ownerand head chef of Sawada. Koji slowly prepares individual sashimi pieces for dinner at his six seat sushi bar. He works six days a week and offers only two sittings per day and his only employee is his wife who is the sous chef. There were very few words spoken throughout our meal, predominantly smiles and head nods. As a parting gift, theyleft each of us with a custom painted napkin, of which Sawada’s wife had hand painted. We left with a feeling of deep respect for the individual who does so much with so little. (Side note… we found this pic online as we were respectful of Sawada’sno phone/no picture policy.)

Always remember to stay curious and ask questions when interacting with the world; this helps us stay true to what is happening within the world around us.


Have you enjoyed a unique food experience in Japan? Share with us at blake@interactonshelf.com!