Interview with the Author
Tell us more about yourself.
eka: I’ve been passionate about Japan for at least the past one and a half decades. It started off with a trip to Tokyo with a guidebook in hand. From there, it took off like a bunch of fireworks. I was insanely interested in anything related to Japan and decided that I must learn Japanese as that was the gateway to learning more about its food and culture. I picked up Japanese mostly on my own, aided by the kind waiters and waitresses who would patiently wait to let me finish my poorly constructed sentences and help me when needed. Apart from my long-standing interest in Japan, I love photography, videography, poi-spinning and poetry.
What inspired you to write a travel guide about Tokyo?
eka: I’ve been to Tokyo more times than I can possibly count with my two hands. When I explore the food scene there, I feel like Alice exploring Wonderland. Mesmerised. Each time I travel to Tokyo with my family and friends, I aim to take them to a new area, a new restaurant, and try something unique. The satisfied smiles on their faces made me addicted to doing travel research on Japan and all my friends know "Japan" is the magic word that will get this introvert talking for hours. It came to a point where even friends of friends would ask me for recommendations if they were going to Tokyo. Each time I took a trip to Tokyo, my recommendation list expanded such that the information could no longer be relayed effectively via an email or scribblings on a piece of paper. Hence, I decided to embark on a project to compile all my experiences into a book.
How does this book help us find our way around?
eka: The restaurants are divided into eight districts which visitors to Tokyo are likely to go to. Each chapter starts off with a map, pinpointing the restaurants or patisseries in one’s vicinity. As Japan is notorious for having an address system which is not intuitive, a good map with identifiable landmarks has long been desired by many. I've always found convenience stores and fast food chains as useful landmarks when finding a new restaurant and hence I've included these to guide one to their choice of restaurant.
Tell us a bit more about what makes this book different.
eka: This is a travel guide book that marries my loves - my love for Japanese cuisine, my love for photography, my love for maps and my love for poetry. I wrote this travel guide when I took a year off being a doctor to study Japanese in Tokyo. In between attending Japanese classes and completing my homework, I visited each of the 59 restaurants and 37 cafes to sample their cuisine, photograph their creations and verify the maps. I've also written poems about each of the 8 different districts covered, which to summarises my take on the vibe of each area. This guide is not a collection of the finest restaurants in Tokyo. Instead, I wanted to write about restaurants where the locals eat at, restaurants which takes one along the off-beaten track, and, most importantly, restaurants which are reasonably priced. At the back of the book, I have included a chapter on phrases that one can use in restaurants to aid them in manoeuvring through just about any scenario that may occur in a restaurant, and an extensive vocabulary list to help one decipher menus.
It all sounds interesting! Do you think I could possibly browse through a sampler?
eka: By all means! Click here to download one.