Japan Food FES

Japan FES came to NYC over spring break. My friend, Asiyah Fisher and I visited the festival in Chelsea. Food festivals are usually a hit or miss. The weather was not the best. It was gloomy and started raining on and off but it was a great experience. The Japan Food Festival is a great place to find your new favorite food or expand your taste palette. It’s a fun little event to attend with friends or even alone. It is pricey so make sure you bring enough money to spend.

We didn’t know what to expect when going into Japan FES. The flier had mentioned lots of vendors but as we walked out of the train station we were overwhelmed with the atmosphere. 

“I expected a lot of bubble tea, boba, and food. There were at least four blocks of stores, which I didn’t expect,” Asiyah Fisher said. 

As you’re reading the article, keep in mind that my friend and I only eat halal so we geared towards seafood, vegetarian, and vegan options. Starting strong, the first food item my friend and I got at the festival was strawberry and grape tanghulu. It was $17 for both and yes, they do accept Apple Pay. The outer layer of the strawberry tanghulu was smooth and glass-like. It cracked into the sweet and fruitful flavor of the fresh strawberry beneath it. As someone who generally doesn’t eat sweets, I enjoyed this.

“We had the tanglulu, the candied fruits, strawberry and grape. I give those a 9/10,” Asiyah Fisher.

 We only had an hour left at the festival so we decided we needed to buy as much as we could before the vendors began closing. At our next stop, we got shrimp tempura sushi tacos. Without a doubt, this was the best food that we got.I had been craving sushi for about a month and this was the perfect food to satisfy my craving. It was the perfect balance of crunchy savory goodness. The taco shell was made out of Nori filled with rice. You can never go wrong with shrimp tempura and the kani salad at the top brought the dish together. 

“We got these shrimp tempura tacos. They were so good. 10/10. I would go all the way back to Manhattan just to get those tacos,” Fisher said. 

Some vendors were also handing out free samples. We tried a matcha-flavored soda. It sounded super intriguing but its taste was not what I expected. It tasted like any other fizzy drink but it wasn’t extremely sweet. I didn’t get any notes of matcha which was a bit disappointing. 

Our next purchase was Onigiri. I’ve had Onigiri before at a spot in Flushing and I loved it. We got salmon onigiri. This wasn’t a favorite of ours. To us, it was very fishy and a bit hard to get down. It would’ve tasted better if we were able to have it with a sauce such as spicy mayo. I’d rate it a 4/10.

“We got this onigiri. It was served with rice, salmon, and seaweed on the outside. It was okay. It was very fishy for me. I think if it was chicken or something I think it would have been better. I feel like it was also a lot,” Fisher said.

Next up we went to this vendor that was selling various items on skewers. They had chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, and tteokbokki (rice cakes). We tried the tteokbokki but this was the worst food item that we got. It was very flavorful but we didn’t enjoy the flavors. It was crispy and fried in turmeric and spices. It had the taste of curry which is what contributed to us not liking it. There were only 4 small rice cakes on there but we struggled to finish our food. 

“We got rice cakes. They were eh. As a girl who goes to a masjid with a lot of Guyanese people around, curry is something I eat a lot of, so when I ate that, it gave me flashbacks and it did not make me feel good because I don’t like curry like that. I give it a 2/10 honestly,” Fisher said.

Next, to wash everything we decided to get a drink. I had this wonderful matcha drink. It was pure premium matcha. It was the first time I ever had matcha like that. It was smooth and had a very earthy aftertaste. I rate it a 10/10. 

These were all the food items that we tried at Japan FES. If we were to go back again we would have gone earlier in order to be able to try more food options. 

“It was kinda crowded but we got there pretty late so that’s to be expected. I wish we got there earlier because most of the things that we went to like we went to try dumplings but they didn’t have any more shrimp and you know vegetarian stuff. I’m Muslim guys, so I can’t eat pork or chicken that’s not halal,” Asiyah Fisher said. 

Overall our experience at Japan FES for the first time was great. I loved seeing all the different foods that I would see online, in real life. I would recommend this experience to anyone who was always interested in trying Japanese food but never knew where to go or what to get. Japan FES had tons of food diversity. If it is your first time going we recommend that you go early, try new foods, and bring enough money. 

“Be risky. Try new foods. Even if you think you won’t like it. Try it. At least then you can be like “Hey guys, I tried rice cakes, they were kinda bad, but at least I tried it you know” so now you know for the future. Be risky,” Fisher said.

We stress that you must bring enough money in order to try enough food items and have an enjoyable time. 

“Bring a lot of money. Don’t bring twenty dollars. No, no, no. Bring like fifty dollars,” Fisher said. 

 Japan FES even had vendors for press on nails, body care, fragrances, and accessories. I wouldn’t go back again just because I already attended and got the experience. 

Also, be mindful that the portions are small. We didn’t wait in line for any vendors but this can vary based on different times. If you hear about Japan FES upcoming near you, I recommend you go.

Allia Dalana

Hey! I’m Allia. I’m a senior at Edison. I love being in the city and traveling. I’m always down to try something new and hang out with my friends. I just love a good time. I love all things in the pop culture world and I’m excited to write for you!