Thursday, June 19, 2008

Japan, end of week two, and MORE FOOD!

First things first, I've been asked if it's okay to forward my blog on to others--of course! Frankly, I'm excited that anyone wants to :) Another common question is about new posts--I'm guessing 3 or so a week--one during the week, two on the weekends. Pretty much on the weekday's I go to work and then come home, which isn't that exciting.

This is going to be a mostly food blog again becuase that's what I do during the week--eat! That being said--I think I'm losing weight. I walk and walk and walk and walk and am constantly climbing stairs. I have this terrible vision of stepping on the hem of my pants (because they are loose because I'm losing weight) and have my pants fall off! And then, because every single person in Japan has high-tech cell phones, it will be videoed and on YouTube within minutes as "Gaijin loses pants"...terrifying!

Another story that, unfortunately, is pictureless is an adventure to Bob's International Lounge for lunch. You know, a place in Japan that has cartoons of a cowboy...not usually a great sign in my opinion. The place...well, that's a story for the ages. There were two waitresses. One was about 150, and had one tooth and one eye. The other had a baby on her back. One of my coworkers said that he thought that's what family dining in the United States was like. I replied...only in the deepest of the deep rural areas, where you hear men squealing like pigs and banjo's dueling. That being said, it was bizarre enough that the women in the office want to see it, so I'll probably go back--and this time, I'll get pictures. My favorite part was the dartboard on the balcony, so that if you missed, your dart would go flying over the side from 8 stories up.

But I will start off with a non-food picture. It was requested that I take a picture of the hated Japanese keyboard. It turns out that keyboards are surprisingly difficult to photograph. The problems are not immediately noticeable--until you notice that punctuation signs are ALL over the place, especially items like apostrophe's, which are not used by the Japanese. Another huge problem? The space bar is half the size that it is on the English model, and the button to the right changes the language. So I was CONSTANTLY changing the language accidentally. I haven't typed so slow since I was 13!

So, whenever I said I was going to Japan, people in America tended to bring up mochi. "Oh, I love mochi" they'd say "I'd eat so much mochi if I was in Japan". I had a bad feeling that the Japanese called something different mochi than the American's do...and I was right. In America, mochi tends to refer a tasty dessert of ice cream wrapped in a dough made of rice. In Japan, it appears that the word "mochi" only is referring to the rice dough that's it. So what does that mean in practice?

It means instead of cupcakes, people bring mochi balls to work for treats.

Hmmm...the green, sticky part is the mochi. The purple part is...I actually have no idea at all what the purple part is. Really, could be anything. It was sweet, that's all that I know. And this thing was HUGE. There was no way I could eat it all. It wasn't bad but I won't be trading in cupcakes for them. And it would be better filled with ice cream.

Because I'm foreign and willing to try any food they hand me (once or twice) I got multiple treats. This was the other one. I have no idea at all what it is but it appeared to be filled with the same purple stuff. They told me I was suppsoed to eat the leaf so I did. It was a strangely salty food. Again, not bad...but I wouldn't cross the street to get one.

As I was wandering the block I found a shop that sells nothing but apple products. Very strange. And a HUGE range of apple products--dried apples, apple jelly, apple alcohol. I bought some dried apples. They were cut really thick and they were as dry as I've ever seen dehydrated fruit...that being said, they were really quite good and I think I'll go back.

I haven't tried the mango kit-kats yet but I have invested in two new types. One is banana flavored and the other (which seems to be very patriotic and in tune with the upcoming 4th of July) is berry flavored.

I have stumbled upon a snack I really like. The skeleton chips are EXTREMELY spicy little rings...and they are compounding spicy. So the first one, not so bad. The second one, wow, that's some heat. Eventually, you are tearing up and sweating. But in a good way! And the little bag next to it--I don't know why I took a picture of the back of the bag rather than the front. But they are really tasty soft little cider flavored candies. Yum!

I'm sure the red vs. green bags means something and it's probably that one is more spicy than the other, but I don't know which is which. The spicy rings have a competitor though made my frito-lay. They taste like rings of Cheeto's that are incredibly hot. Like I couldn't eat more than three hot.

Things that remind me of Cheetos are plentiful in Japan. I also ate what tasted like a chocolate cheeto dipped in chocolate--it was surprisingly good.

The award for the cutest candy has to go to Hello Kitty in Panda suit candy. I think it's supposed to be some sort of Coke float hard candy. Frankly, it doesn't taste very good and has a strange aftertaste. But it's so cute, who cares! I eat a lot of these little cider candies and the one on the right is a kind of almond caramel that is really good. They are individually packaged, which makes me happy--I only like to eat a little bit of candy at a time (which is why there is so much untouched candy in my apartment!).

On Wednesday I ate at a ramen shop. It's been asked how I pick which resturants to go to. Well, I look for a push-button ordering system (it's easy and I don't clog up the line), a menu with pictures, or plastic models of the food. If it has one of those things, I'm set. Otherwise, menu's tend to have WAY too much kanji for me to be able to read them. The ramen was good, espacially the broth. I'm not sure about the slice of pork floating in there but it was fairly tasty too.

Every morning I go to get a Coke to drink during the day and some sort of healthy drink for breakfast. This is the one I've been getting lately. It has a LOT of fruits and vegetables in it including carrots, pumpkin, corn, eggplant, daikon, several differant types of lettuce or cabbage, mango, tomato, banana, and the kitchen sink. It MUST be healthy :)

Sometimes after work I go to a coffee shop named Tully's. Tully's is obviously a non-Japanese chain (I mean, come on, Tully's?) but it's close and I like to sit there, drink honey lattes and eat some cheesecake. The Japanese are always SHOCKED when I can count money out correctly. It has the same numbers on it that we use--it doesn't exactly take a brain trust to figure out.

Embarassing American Food I've Eaten This Week Award goes to: SUBWAY! It looks exactly like it does in the US doesn't it? It was okay but the mayo was strange and they put exactly 4 pickles on a foot long sub. And she placed those FOUR pickles very carefully. So there wasn't exactly pickle in every bite, which means it wasn't all that it could be.

To be added into the "bought but I haven't tried yet" column:

Blueberry Pocky and what appears to be chestnuts. At least, I think they're chestnuts--any other guesses?

I started getting homesick not so much for American food but for cooking--I miss cooking. My one burner and zero counterspace doesn't so much lend itself to cooking though. I decided that my favorite dish, potatoes and garlic sauteed in copious amounts of olive oil and then salted, was doable even in the tiny kitchen. All the ingredients were easily obtained between the produce shop and the 7-11. Ah, delicious. Not healthy at all but delicious.

In other news, I've been trying to use a translation website, and I've decided that it makes all websites better. For example:

UNIQLO The Ome 今寺店 4-4-2, Imadera, Ome-shi, Tokyo Ome 今寺店 is allowed to consider it as closing with 6/26 (Thurs.), though very selfish, and it transfer-opening-does as an Ome store at 6/27 (Fri.).

Uniqlo is a Gap style store that is common in Japan. And you know what? It is selfish for wanting to close :)


  1. You need to try the Kit Kats! I'm so curious about them :)

  2. That keyboard would drive me Insane! Switching between Mac and PC is bad enough.

    I must say you are much more adventurous with food than I am (although not a real surprise there), I applaud you.

    I wish we had push button ordering stuff here, that sounds cool. Or maybe I'm just anti-social...

  3. I do love the push buttons! Plus, you don't have to tip the machine :) Actually you don't tip anyone here, they charge a seating charge which seems to accomplish the same goal.

    I'm determined to try everything anyone sets in front of me at least once (assuming they eat it too! I'm not a guinea pig). Because of this, I've had chicken feet, sharks fin soup, bible trip, raw liver...oh the list goes on and on...

    I've decided to save the KitKats until Josh comes so that we can get a couple opinions--he's more of a fan, so we can get the afficianado prespective!

  4. Don't eat too much raw liver. Echinococcosis is a horrible, horrible disease, as are many other parasites that absolutely LOVE the liver. For some reason, a parastie in an abarrent host LOVES neural tissue, too.

  5. Hmmm. A lot - maybe most - of the foods you are showing are commonly available here.

    As far as mochi, it is most commonly sold here in the refrigerated section as raw dough; you take it home, cut it up, pop it in the oven and bake it, sort of like unsweetened slice-and-bake cookies.

    I never saw the mochi wrapped around ice cream stuff until a couple of years ago, when Trader Joe opened here.

    BTW, we have Uniqlo here, too.

    Um, have I mentioned that I am TOTALLY jealous of you being in Japan?

    I think I'd better drown my sorrows at Beard Papa!

    Blather From Brooklyn


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