1. Okutama wasabi tour
    Photo: Kisa ToyoshimaOkutama wasabi tour
  2. Soba at Yama no Furusato Mura Village
    Photo: Kisa ToyoshimaSoba at Yama no Furusato Mura Village
  3. Farm Watado
    Photo: Kisa ToyoshimaKomatsuna at Farm Watado
  4. Tokyo Edo vegetable soup
    Photo: Kisa ToyoshimaSoup made with fresh Edo Tokyo vegetables
  5. Tokyo Riverside Distillery
    Photo: Kisa ToyoshimaTokyo Riverside Distillery

Get behind Tokyo’s food and drink scene with these 4 foodie experiences

These unique activities reveal a lesser known side of Tokyo’s vibrant dining and drinking culture

Written by Time Out Tokyo. Paid for by Tokyo Metropolitan Government
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The culinary diversity in Tokyo is just incredible thanks to the countless restaurants, bars and foodie hotspots that call the city. For a true taste of Tokyo however, you'll want to seek out the speciality food and drink items that are grown and made right here in the city. 

Tokyo is best known as a vibrant concrete jungle, but the Greater Tokyo region occupies a diverse range of terrain, ranging from lush forests to sprawling farm fields. Whether you’re interested in trekking deep into nature to a local wasabi farm in Okutama or visiting a sustainable urban gin distillery in Kuramae, here are some of the amazing food and drink experiences that allow you to taste the best of Tokyo’s homegrown cuisine.

Okutama

Take a tour of a wasabi farm with the Wasabi Bros

Wasabi is an indispensable part of Japanese cuisine. It's most commonly enjoyed as an accompaniment to sushi or sashimi. The root requires extremely specific conditions to grow and flourish, and it’s pretty interesting to see how it moves from farm to table. 

If you want to learn more about Tokyo-grown wasabi, you can join an in-depth tour with the Wasabi Bros in Okutama. With the number of wasabi farmers decreasing year by year, the Wasabi Bros are hoping to get people interested in the green delicacy by sharing their knowledge and practice of traditional wasabi cultivation.

During the tour, the two brothers will take you on a trek deep into nature, where you’ll find their self-built farm along a picturesque river. You’ll get to see how wasabi is grown in this unique environment as well as have the opportunity to harvest and taste wasabi pulled fresh from the ground. With the resourceful knowledge of the Wasabi Bros, you'll discover that all parts of the wasabi plant can be eaten, and that the zingy condiment pairs wonderfully with cheese. It can even be made into a refreshing tea.

Tours cost ¥11,000 per person plus rubber boot rentals for ¥500. To apply for the wasabi tour experience, visit the website.

Make soba noodles at Yama no Furusato Mura Village

Soba or buckwheat noodles are a must-eat when visiting Japan. If you’ve ever wondered how these deliciously nutty noodles are made, consider joining a soba-making workshop at Yama no Furusato Mura Village in Okutama. Nestled amongst lush nature, the village functions as an information centre where visitors passing through Okutama can learn more about the area as well as join nature experience programmes and workshops.

During the class, you’ll get to learn the basics of making noodles from scratch, from mixing the soba flour with water to rolling out and cutting the dough. After the noodles are made, you’ll get to enjoy them with wasabi and tsuyu, or soy-sauce based dipping sauce.

The workshop costs ¥500 per person. Reservations are required in advance. For more information, visit the website.

Central Tokyo

Enjoy fresh veggies from Farm Watado

Venture through Tokyo’s peaceful suburbs and you’ll come across a surprising number of farm fields right here in the city. The neighbourhood of Nerima in particular is home to numerous farms and orchards that grow and sell local produce – specifically Edo Tokyo vegetables. These are traditional greens that have been cultivated in and around Tokyo since the Edo period (1603-1868), and currently include 52 types of vegetables such as Nerima daikon radish, Magome Sansun carrots and Goseki bansei komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach).

At Farm Watado in Nerima, you can take a peek at where some of these vegetables, including komatsuna and daikon, are grown. The farm also has a small store out front where you can chat with friendly locals and pick up fresh produce to take home with you.

To make the most of these fresh vegetables, you can enjoy them in a variety of ways including salads, stir fries and soups. Komatsuna greens are particularly versatile; they work well in soup when cooked with bacon, potato, onion and a little bit of cream and milk. When it's all blended together, you can savour the fresh, sweet flavour of these Tokyo-grown greens.

Taste sustainable gin at Tokyo Riverside Distillery

Craft gin is having a moment in Japan, with numerous distilleries producing original spirits made with unique botanicals that work beautifully with gin’s signature juniper berries. One of these innovators is Tokyo Riverside Distillery in Kuramae, a producer known for its inventive spirits made by distilling food byproducts and leftovers and other unorthodox ingredients. Some of the quirkier things they’ve used to make gin include sake kasu (leftover lees from sake production), beer, sansho pepper, coffee and even cacao husks.

As a way to promote sustainability and be less wasteful, the distillery also prides itself on using ingredients sourced from all around Japan. Through this process, these ingredients become useful again as key components in the making of gin.

To try some of these spirits for yourself, you can order cocktails at the shop counter for takeaway, or take a seat at the distillery’s stylish second-floor bar and dining area, Stage, where you can sample a curated food menu developed to match the label's distictive gin. You can also pick up bottles of gin at the shop, available in 200ml, 375ml and 700ml.

Tours are held on an irregular basis. Check Instagram and the website for more details.

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