The long awaited food blog

People often ask me, “Which do you like better, Japanese or American food?”

I prefer Japanese food, obviously. And I’m not just saying that because I live here or think American food is horribly unhealthy and not-so-tasty. So much of Japanese food (or food easily found in Japan) is delicious.

So I hate milk. And most dairy. I don’t hate cheese, but it does not like me. I’m also not a fan of red meat–or any meat for that matter. I can eat seafood. I love fish and shrimp and oysters, OH MY. And while modern Japanese cuisine is full of fatty animal products and sugar and all that, it is relatively easier to find healthy options (or foods without all those things I hate) in Japan. I think. I at least feel healthier eating Japanese food than I do typical American food, but I’m not really sure what’s right anymore. Either way, I’d like to share some of the foods I’ve eaten while in Japan. To the best of my ability, I will describe these foods and grade them based on their deliciousness, etc.

1. Sushi. The picture below is of various fishes and fillings for a temakizushi (hand rolled sushi) session. Sushi is one of my favorite foods in Japan because it is filling, easily accessible, and freakin’ delicious. Sushi is popular all over the world now, but I promise you it tastes best where it all began in Japan.

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Here we have crab sticks, Japanese-style scrambled egg (tamagoyaki), tuna, octopus, sea urchin (uni), and so many other fishes I don’t remember!

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This spread was also for temakizushi, which is really easy to do at home and makes for a wonderful dinner party!

sushi and tempura

sushi and tempura

***Helpful tip: for the last time, sushi does not mean raw fish or fish at all. Sushi refers to the vinegared-rice used. Raw fish is called sashimi.

2. Sashimi. Actually, I might like sashimi more. All of the flavor and none of the white rice. This spread included the standard types of fish and the meat from that little crab/lobster thing (sorry I don’t remember his name). It was so fresh that his arms were still moving. Not going to lie, it was a little unsettling at first, but the tastiness made up for it.

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3. Noodle dishes. The first is udon. Udon is a noodle made from flour. It’s usually really thick, but thin varieties are also available. In my opinion, udon tastes the best with a soy sauce based soup, green onions, and a big slice of fried tofu. This is commonly referred to as kitsune udon (fox udon), and it looks like this:

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You can also have kitsune soba, which is a noodle made from buckwheat. It is also delicious, especially when followed by matcha dango, a sweet dessert made from sticky rice flour and matcha powder.

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Then we have ramen. Ramen is actually a Chinese dish, but has been made it’s own phenomenon in Japan. Ramen is super super famous, but it’s nothing like those 10 cent soup cups you can buy at the super market. It has a rich, fatty flavor that makes you feel like you’re getting closer and closer to a heart attack with every slurp. It usually has a pork base, and the starchy noodles soak up all the flavor. I rarely eat ramen and can never finish a bowl, but it usually tastes pretty good after a long night of drinking. philips vacay 085

4. Takoyaki, y’all. Takoyaki is a glorious food. It’s little pieces of octopus, green onion, and maybe ginger surrounded by a little ball of fried batter. It’s covered with katsuoboshi (dried bonito flakes), mayonnaise, and a special sauce. It’s like Japanese comfort food and I want to eat it everyday. The Texas State Fair needs to get on this. NOW!
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5. Pizza. Pizza?, you ask. Yes, pizza. Despite being (maybe) Italian, Japan makes pizza all its own. One of my favorite varieties here is seafood pizza. Standard crust covered with squid, octopus, shrimp, and maybe some scallops is the perfect pie for me! However, for those of you less thrilled by shellfish on your pizza, margherita pizza is pretty easy to find in Japan.

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6. Tonkatsu, or deep fried pork cutlet, is probably my least favorite food ever. I ate it once because I agreed to go to a specialty restaurant a while ago, and I’ve never gone back. This particular one included cheese and miso paste. For someone who isn’t a huge fan of pork to begin with, this greasy slab of pig and cheese was torture. I wanted to die for a good 24 hours afterward. This is definitely not for the weak of stomach. stuffs 020

7. Matcha sweets. Above you can see a picture of matcha dango, but that’s really just the beginning of desserts using Japanese green tea powder. Ice cream, cookies, chocolate, cake…you name it, it probably exists in Japan. Oh! Matcha KitKats! My mouth is watering.

Matcha ice cream is so so good. I don’t even know how to describe it.

Obviously, Japan is a far more exciting culinary experience than one blog post can accurately show, so I hope to post more in the future! I haven’t even told you about school lunch yet…not to mention torisashi!!

See you next time! ^-^

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A week in the life…

OMG SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED. I’m no longer as concerned with food, so that’s good, but I have much to tell. This month is a busy one for me. Well, relative to last month. First of all, I’ve done some major shopping. I’ve had a little more money this month than I thought I would, and I also found places that sell things that I actually want to buy, like zoo socks!

I’m a sock person.

I have also purchased many a phone accessory, so my iPhone is now more Japanese/fun. Speaking of zoos, this past weekend I went to the Kagoshima Aquarium (かごしま水族館) with my host family. I stayed with them one weekend last month, but they treat me like a real family member. Grandma came with us and she seriously bought me, like, four presents without my knowledge. And lunch. And ice cream. She, and my host mom, are so nice, as are most people here. If you show even mild interest in something, it will probably be given to/bought for you. Try it. Anyway, I mostly spent the day babysitting a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, so maybe it was deserved, but…no, no it wasn’t. SO NICE.

I stayed in the city after that and actually enjoyed normal night-time activities with fellow Americans for the first time in Japan. These of course included eating Baskin Robbin’s and walking around, but also drinking in the street and foreignizing a Japanese “club.” Foreignizing isn’t a word, so if it’s misspelled, I’m sorry.

I made it home somehow and slept for approximately 3 hours before I went to a 運動会 (undoukai-sports festival) for preschoolers/kindergartners. Background info: kindergarten isn’t compulsory in Japan, but kids age 3-6 (or something like that), can all go to 幼稚園 (youchien-essentially kindergarten) to learn stuff before they go to real school. Anyway, though I was running low on energy from not sleeping and what not, I had a great time. Watching small children dance and race and play with their parents is really cute. I also saw a lot of people I know around town there, so it was a nice way to socialize. I guess what I mean is that it made me feel somewhat part of the community. It was really nice. Thanks for inviting me, Kana!

It came at a price though. I don’t know if it was my general lack of sleep this weekend or the exposure to so many snotty-nosed kids, but I AM SICK. It is cold season though. Just so you know, being sick in Japan is less fun than being sick in America. I’m so tired and groggy that I don’t want to talk to anyone, especially the teachers, and it just makes me look like a huge bi…mean person (IDK who’s reading this!) for not wanting to try to speak Japanese. I just kept saying “hello. goodbye” to the kids and I feel terrible! Not to mention I have to walk to the bathroom on the other side of the school every time I need to blow my nose, which is a lot. Good thing it’s test week.

This week I can blame being sick, but I really need to stop being so afraid to talk to people in Japanese. I know that the biggest part of learning a language is making mistakes and then mentally correcting them, but I hate messing up! I’m getting a little better at talking to people that I’ve spoken to before, but limited vocabulary/sucky attitude is really starting to depress me. And it’s all my fault. If you have any ideas on how to get better at Japanese and stop being a wimp, let me know!

Now for pictures!

So there you have it, a week it my life in Japan. Not super exciting, but I do live in the middle of nowhere.

Why I’m getting fat

I knew Japanese food was good, but I didn’t think I’d be this obsessed with it. I kid you not, I probably gained 10 pounds in the first few weeks of being here. But everything is so good! Also, I was kind of in vacation mode, and I had to try everything I came in contact with at restaurants, grocery stores, and especially the ever-popular Japanese コンビニ (convenient store). Here are a few pictures of the things I have consumed here.

Okay, so not a lot of pictures. Usually when I sit down for a meal, I’m more concerned with eating it than taking a picture of it. Sorry! I would like to talk about a few of my new favorite foods though!

First of all, I never would have thought that curry bread (カレーパン)would be appetizing, much less freakin’ awesome. Seriously, this stuff is good, and there was a week when I ate it everyday. It’s pretty much what it sounds like: bread filled with curry. Japanese-style curry…which, in my honest opinion, is better than Indian curry. It’s beefy, but sweet. Curry rice is also delicious.

I’m also a huge fan of more traditional Japanese foods like sashimi and onigiri and natto. Yea, that’s right, natto (納豆). It’s also kind of sweet to me. But I think I might have messed up taste buds, because apparently, foreigners are supposed to hate natto. For those of you that don’t know, natto is fermented soy beans, and it looks like this:

納豆:sticky, fermented goodness

Probably more appealing to Westerns are Japanese sweets. Pocky is really tasty and comes in many different flavors like Cookies and Cream and my favorite Milk Chocolate Salty Pocky. I’m also slightly in love with きのこの山 (kinoko no yama), these cute little mushroom-shaped cookies with flavored chocolate tops! Mmm. Also delicious are Japanese breads, especially the sweet ones. These you can buy at French style bakeries, the grocery store (usually), and of course convenience stores. I blame my weight gain on convenience stores, by the way. They are so so good, but so so evil. Also, there’s one literally attached to my apartment. You can’t get more convenient/dangerous than that.

There are so many more foods that I could talk about, but I’ve got things to do! Perhaps I will make food posts a mini-series (I need to devote an entire post to school lunch eventually). Let me know what you think! Also, what Japanese foods do you like?