For an officeworker in Japan, the nomikai is a regular part of life.  A nomikai is a food and drink party held immediately after the work day ends.  They are most often held in restaurants or izakaya, usually with everyone seated at one large table.

The traditional nomikai lasts roughly two hours, and it’s not uncommon for people to move on from there to a nijikai, or second party, to continue drinking.    Some of the participants will then go on to a sanjikai, or third party.  Those who go to sanjikai frequently miss the last train, and some of them will keep drinking almost until morning.   There were several instances during my visit in which I learned that my colleagues were quite hung over from sanjikai.

There was a nomikai held at the end of my first week in Japan, partly to welcome a batch of new employees in the group and partly to welcome me to the Tokyo office.   Every picture that follows is the food from the nomikai I attended.  I figured that a post comprised entirely of food would be very appropriate as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US.

The first photo is a small appetizer of a sort of fish flake custard dish.


Tamago, or egg.  I do love eggs.


Edamame is delicious.


Cabbage leaves in a sesame dressing.  So, so tasty.


The thing about asking Japanese colleagues to identify a dish is that they will often just answer that it’s meat.  If you’re really lucky, they might specify which animal the meat came from.  I was not so lucky.


These noodles were incredibly delicious.


Oh look, a sumimasen button!


This is fried fish bones.  I did not think I was going to dig this, but it was crunchy, salty, and surprisingly delicious.


Leafy stuff in a sesame dressing is one of the most delicious foods on the planet.


I’m pretty sure this is two types of fish.  Someone told me that the pale one was blowfish, but I’m not certain I believe them.


Various fried and breaded seafood things.  The round balls that look like they have cornflakes on the outside were especially delicious.


Remember a while back when I mentioned the Okonomiyake?    This was kind of like that, except huge and portioned out like a big deep dish pizza.


Eggs and vegetables and shrimp!  Super yum.


Slices of cooked meat.  Again, super yum.


What traditional Nomikai would be complete without french fries?


By the time we finished the Nomikai, I was super full of all manner of delicious food.

Of all the food you’ve eaten on trips, which item was the most unusual to you?


3 thoughts on “Nomikai!

  1. Bunny

    Hands down I’d say it was little fried frog’s legs at my mother’s home town in France near the Swiss border. I was eleven at the time and my brother was nine. We were told it was chicken, but I knew chicken legs didn’t bounce back when you extended ’em… They came on the biggest platter I’ve ever seen (there were ten of us at the meal) and were removed when they were no longer piping hot. A local chef had prepared the meal, and wouldn’t allow us to eat any of it unless it was in perfect condition, i.e. not cold. It was also the first time we’d eaten lobster, and my adult cousin taught us how to suck the meat out of the leg portions. The meal had at least seven courses, after each of which there was a sort of time-out for wine and smoking (no filters on the cigarettes, either! Long time ago.) and lively discussions, most of which Ron and I missed completely, not speaking the language. It was an amazing meal, which I’ll never, ever forget.


  2. You ate all that in one sitting!? Kudos!

    The strangest thing I ate was a fish eye on my honeymoon in Bali. It tasted like some sort of paste wrapped in a ball of tape with a tiny marble (the lens!) inside. Eek. But it wasn’t that bad of a taste, and I encouraged my husband to try it…he thought it was awful! Lol!

    Those fish bones are insane!!


  3. This looks amazing! I’m hungry now! 🙂

    The most unusual food I’ve eaten was probably oyster omelette in Taiwan. I will not be eating it again – the slime literally made me gag.
    I’ve also eaten frog’s legs, goat and horse. All were delicious. There are horse steaks in every supermarket here in Basel!


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