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Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo Paperback – April 16, 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 110 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Matthew Amster-Burton is one of the funniest writers I know. He comes up with the kind of one liners and clever descriptions that makes me stop and say to myself damn, I wish I'd thought of that." --Kenji Alt, SeriousEats.com

"A consistently riveting book that might make you want to slap the bed as you laugh." --Shauna James Ahern, author of Gluten-Free Girl Every Day

From the Back Cover

"Pretty Good Number One will put a smile on your face quicker than you can say 'Arigato!'... Perfectly sums up all of the reasons why I myself fell in love with the country, and why, once you have been, you will want to return again and again."

--Rachael Hutchings, LaFujiMama.com

"A must-read for anyone traveling to Tokyo or dreaming of that future trip."

--Yukari Sakamoto, author of Food Sake Tokyo
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1st edition (April 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 148412698X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1484126981
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,518,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you enjoy humorous but sympathetic accounts of gaijin (foreigner) life in Tokyo -- and especially if you are fascinated by the food there -- this is a must-read. It's not a guidebook at all, but an amusing diary/blog style account of a Seattleite's time in Japan.

The author recounts the various adventures spent by his family in Tokyo when they rented a small apartment in Nakano for a month. He dearly loves Tokyo and Japan yet is also keenly aware of some of the absurdities. The adventures include restaurants, grocery stores, pachinko, and just generally being out and about Tokyo. I annoy my wife and keep her awake by laughing out loud repeatedly when reading it in bed!

As with any such book, I could complain about a few minor annoyances. Early on, he challenges the reader to name any tourist attractions in Tokyo ... and claims you can't (although I certainly can). He claims that a particular supermarket is "the best in the world" which turns out to mean something different (I'll let him explain). But those are minor issues, and the book is suitable for both Japan newbies and the experienced expat set.

In fact, if you've visited Tokyo a few times and tried to get out and explore, I think you'll enjoy the book even more. I got the printed version (just fine) and it would also be perfectly suitable for Kindle. Yonde kudasai! ("Read it please!") And even better, pick out a few of the adventures and go explore them yourself Tokyo!
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Format: Kindle Edition
(Disclaimer: I was a Kickstarter backer for this book)

This book is the next best thing to visiting Tokyo than actually going there. As the subtitle implies, it's about the food. But it's also about the culture, it's about the people, and it's about the country. It tells the story of a family staying in an apartment in Tokyo and having an incredibly wide range of foods to sample. It's not just the breadth of the cuisine: what Amster-Burton has written here is a celebration of Tokyo and its food, and the chapters go in-depth for a given kind. Yes, sushi (what most Americans think of as Japanese food) is in here, but so is udon and soba, and sukiyaki, and dumplings, and yakitori, and the list goes on.

The terms in the book are written in one of Japanese writing systems, called "romaji", which allows us westerners to read and pronounce the words close to the way they're said in Japan. I was getting the hang of the pronunciation when he mentioned a friend of his, Wade. My brain automatically pronounced it Wah-deh before realizing its mistake. Amster-Burton's writing pulled me in so completely, I had temporarily been unable to recognize the English name in context.

While food provides the structure for the book, there's much more here than a run-down of Japanese cuisine. We get to explore hot springs, and public baths, as well as an early morning fish market. We ride along on the high-speed bullet train, called the Shinkansen, and explore the subway system. All the while the book is written in a light, engaging tone that keeps you wanting to read one chapter more, and then one more, and then one more...
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Format: Kindle Edition
A whimsical, delighted, enchanted visit to Japan through the eyes of a writer and foodie. The whole book reminded me of the chapter in Feynman's autobiography where he visits Japan ("Shall we bring our shovel?"). Writers often want to communicate the overwhelming wonder of a place they hold dear; this book actually does.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Pretty Good Number One is the tale of a an American family that spends one month living in Tokyo. Instead of giving us the normal "tourist-take" on Japan (specifically Tokyo and the neighboring suburbs) they take us through a journey of food. As the author tells his family's adventures (and the food that goes with them) you actually learn more about the people of Tokyo and the Japanese culture than you would initially suspect. This isn't just a menu or restaurant-suggestion book... instead it's an experience best described with everyday Tokyo food and drink.

Imagine spending a month in Japan and making an effort every day to eat as a native... the pitfalls of not knowing the language well enough to order exactly what you want, not being able to read the menu boards, and sometimes just not understanding what something is until you take a bite out of it. From making okonomiyaki to eating an eel's backbone (hone) with chopsticks to ordering ramen from a kiosk, this book will make you laugh and hopefully also introduce you to at least one type of food you haven't tried yet! I've read a number of guidebooks on visiting Tokyo, and this one is probably the best. Not only does it tell you about some of the common tourist-attractions and lesser known places, it also gives you the information you need on how to fully experience the culture.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I lived in Tokyo for five wonderful years, 1991-1996, working for an English language newspaper, and not having a kitchen in my small apt, i ate out 3 times a day for 5 years, about 6000 times. Oishii, too. Cost an arm and a leg but i made an arm and a leg in salary, so in one pocket out the other. All in all, Tokyo of all the 26 cities I have lived in worldwide, is by far the best paradise on Earth bar none, and this book shows why. There is a tempura place in Shibuya where i went 4 times a week in evenings and never left unhappy or unloved by the gods of foodville. Konnichiwa, this is a book for all lovers of Tokyo life.
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