November 1st, 2013
08:00 PM ET
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World-renowned chef, author and Emmy-winning television personality Anthony Bourdain visits Tokyo, Japan in the next episode of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," airing Sunday, November 3, at 9 p.m. ET. Follow the show on Twitter and Facebook.

"Maybe the most important thing you need to know about Tokyo, from my point of view is, every chef I know – every high end chef, from Spain, France, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles basically every chef I’ve ever met. If you asked them, 'If you had to spend the rest of your life, in one country, eating one country’s food for the rest of your life, where would that be?' They’re all gonna say the same thing. Japan. Tokyo. Period," says Anthony Bourdain.

"For me, that’s an argument ender. It is a humbling experience," he says. "You come here and you see how much precision, you see how much perfection is possible – with so few components. And you come away from that changed, and a little frightened."

During Bourdain's trip to Tokyo, he searches for (and finds) sushi master Naomichi Yasuda, takes a late night / early morning jaunt to Tsukiji - the city's massive fish market, savors the salty, savory, pickly delicious snacks of an izakaya and gets all knotted up over the city's fetish and manga-reading subculture.

Now that he's showed you his side - here's the Tokyo we know:

Are you being served? Tokyo's 'butlers' spruce up cosplay cafes
Being waited on hand and foot now comes at an affordable price in Tokyo. A new butler-themed cafe in the Japanese capital is proving a hit with young females in search for a relaxing afternoon, an English lesson and just as importantly the chance to interact with friendly foreign men. (Read more)

The best sushi restaurants in Tokyo
Ask five Tokyoites to name the best sushi restaurants in the city, and you’re likely to get five different answers – the old "how long is a piece of string?" quandary.

But the great thing about Tokyo is its sheer breadth and depth of choice when it comes to eating out. Sushi is no exception, and at least one of these five restaurants or chains is sure to please just about any hungry visitor; just don’t expect to be chowing down on California and spicy tuna rolls. (Read more)

Manga maids need not apply: Japan’s high-end concept cafés come of age
You’d like a teenage girl to serve you tea while dressed in a cutesy maid outfit? You got it. You want to dine on a gurney in an Alcatraz ER-themed restaurant or eat burgers surrounded by life-size anime characters? No problem. Just get yourself to Tokyo, the city seemingly teaming with 24-hour cartoon craziness and the embodiment of "wacky Japan."

But away from these Japanese stereotypes, there is a growing scene of altogether more grown-up concept cafés fusing areas to eat and drink with spaces for business meetings and relaxation. (Read more)

B-grade dining is tops in Tokyo
Think back to your younger, broker (or possibly drunker) days, when you enjoyed home-cooked beans folded into instant mashed potatoes and eaten hot from the pan, or ice cream piled onto your favorite donuts. It's cheap, tasty and satisfying as all get-out, but most definitely not about to find itself on any Michelin or Zagat lists.

The term "B-grade food" sounds just plain weird, implying something less than great. Yet stroll into any Japanese bookstore and you’ll spot dozens of magazines and books emblazoned with the characters "B級グルメ" – "B-kyu gurume." So why is second-rate dining so hot right now? (Read more)

Step up to the plate: from baseball bats to chopsticks
A chopstick making company has whittled down broken baseball bats so sushi can be shoveled with a swing.

Hyozaemon specializes in traditional hand-crafted eating utensils and in 2000 introduced their "kattobashi" chopsticks. The name is a play on words combining the Japanese word for chopsticks, "hashi," with a familiar chant heard at Japanese baseball games. (Read more)

Thirsty? Read all about Japan's glitzy whiskey scene, age-old tea rituals and burgeoning craft beer industry and then learn how to drink sake.

Previously on "Parts Unknown":
- South Africa
Taste the Rainbow Nation
- Sicily
Sicilian food to soothe the soul
10 things to know before visiting Sicily
- Copenhagen
A sense of place in Copenhagen cuisine
- New Mexico
In New Mexico, choose a side: red or green
Bourdain cops to mistake on Frito pie canned chili claim
10 things to know before visiting New Mexico
- Granada, Spain
Traditional tapas in Granada
11 things to know before visiting Spain
- Israel, the West Bank and Gaza
In Jerusalem, even food origins are contentious
10 things to know before visiting Israel, the West Bank and Gaza
Bourdain has traditional Palestinian meal
- Congo

SPAM and coq au vin on the Congo River
- Peru
Peruvian food, from guinea pigs to pisco sours
Peruvian food is having a moment
Make perfect pisco sours and ceviche
South America's pisco enjoys North American revival
- Libya
Breakfast in Libya
Where fast food tastes like freedom
- Morocco
iReport: In Morocco, eating is the spice of life
Street snacking in Morocco
- Canada
O Canada! Our home and delicious land
Come for the strip bars, stay for the poutine
- Colombia
Colombian cuisine – from aguardiente to viche
Americans just don’t understand the potato. Colombians do.
- Los Angeles Koreatown
The ever-changing flavor of L.A.'s Koreatown
Bridging generations and cultures, one blistering bowl of bibimbap at a time
Los Angeles food trucks are in it for the long haul
- Myanmar
Fall in love with Myanmar's cuisine
In Myanmar, drink your tea and eat it too

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Filed under: Asian • Japan • Japanese • Parts Unknown • Sushi


soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. jj

    Glad to see that Bourdain is going to Detroit!

    November 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  2. Brett

    Japanese looks fun to eat. I'd love to chow down on some Hitomi Tanaka.

    November 6, 2013 at 3:30 am | Reply
  3. Erika

    Seafood in Japan these days.. hmm.. after Fukushima radiation traced in the Pacific Ocean..

    November 2, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Reply
  4. Ray G.

    innertron, If you eat pork you are disgusting to 1/3 of the world's population (Muslims). If you eat beef you are disgusting to all the Hindus worldwide. Japanese eat whale as a traditional food. But, on the other had, they and all other countries' increased demand for non-whale seafood is causing depletions in natural populations and leaving some areas "dead."

    November 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Reply
  5. innertron

    These people kill whales and here CNN is promoting what they eat! It seems CNN is very happy about the losing battle the Whale Wars is having to help save whales ... hey y'all lets promote Japan's disgusting eating!

    November 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Reply
    • AGeek

      So you're going to skewer an entire society and an amazingly broad spectrum of amazing food based on one myopic bit you learned from TV. Bravo. Well done. Do the rest of us a favor and stop breathing through your mouth.

      November 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Reply
    • csiko

      What makes a whale more important than any other animal? Do you realize how dumb you sound?

      Also, CNN, please make the whole episode available online. I've only been able to catch the 2 you've posted in full so far. I'd like to watch this one!

      November 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Reply
      • KAS

        What makes a whale more important than any other animal is a) they reproduce very slowly so every time one is killed you have increased the likelihood of them going extinct, b) they are very intelligent and family oriented creatures (more so than many people in the U.S.) and c) they don't taste good to begin with.

        Only a human would continue to try and eat something which doesn't taste good just to make a point.

        If you're going to say why are whales more important than any other animal, what makes humans more important than any other animal? There are enough of us doing all kinds of horrific deeds to each other and everything else, why not whack a few million here and there just because we can? After all, we're just another animal.

        November 4, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Reply
    • C

      Not all Japanese eat whale meat. I don't like that some do, but I'd never hate Japan for it. I think an equally bad problem, if not worse is that they are overfishing the Pacific. Also frightening is the Fukushima reactor situation. But being an island country, fish is a large staple of their diet and foundation to their cuisine. It's quite a predicament, but it is up to the Japanese to think about what they should do.

      November 3, 2013 at 12:31 am | Reply

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