Adventures in Japan
From sushi to soba and all the fishy, fried, matcha-y goodness in between, the Japanese know how to keep things exciting in the kitchen.
Sushi for Breakfast
It never occurred to me to have sushi for breakfast; but when it's 6am at the Tsukiji Fish Market, and the fish are fresh from the ocean and righ off the auction block, it makes perfect sense.
Convenience Stores: Family Mart vs 7-Eleven
You won't find me sipping slurpees in a stateside 7-Eleven, but the Japanese take convenience stores to a whole new level. Now a convenience store connoisseur, I declare that in the battle of Family Mart vs 7-Eleven, Family Mart is the clear victor.
noun. When your AirBnB wreaks of mildew and you just need to a large fry and a moment to collect your thoughts. McMergencies are not to be taken lightly and should only be used in times of great need. The only thing not allowed during a McMergency? Shame.
Grocery Shopping: Wins and Fails
Grocery Shopping Fail: Thinking that you're buying milk and bran flakes, and learning the hard way that you bought "yogurt milk" and chocolate corn flakes. And no, the two don't go together.
Grocery Shopping Win: Realizing that the old man re-stocking the shelves speaks English. Using the opportunity to avoid aforementioned missteps, and review your entire cart's contents with him. Discreetly return the fried shrimp and mayonnaise ball back to its spot on the shelf.
Sushi gets all of the love, but the real adventure is in okonomiyaki. Made on an open griddle, this layered wonder has a base of grilled soba or udon noodles. After being topped with a host of ingredients (think green onions, fried garlic, bacon), it is crowned with a savory pancake and thick, sweet BBQ-esque sauce. It's a monster of a meal, but so worth the pain and suffering.
Ramen and The Art of Slurping
When it comes to ramen, it's all about the broth. And the slurp. Casting aside the "no slurping" rules ingrained since childhood wasn't easy, but we were assured it heightens the flavor of the broth. Slurp away, friends.
In Japan, just because it doesn't say it has fish, doesn't mean it doesn't have fish. Thank god it's all fresh and delicious...and that I'm not a vegetarian.
Hot or cold, soba is the culinary staple we all need to adopt. Buckwheat noodles served cold with a dipping sauce or hot with broth, there is nothing more satisfying on a hot (or cold) day. Better yet, it's healthy, making it a welcomed reprieve on heels of okonomiyaki.
Octopus Balls: think risotto balls, but with hot pink octopus tentacles mixed in. Served piping hot and with mayonnaise on the side, these little spheres of seafood are just what they seem: one part comfort food, one part octopus.
Matcha Ice Cream
During this trip I learned that while the Japenese don't really do sweet desserts, they do Matcha ice cream like it's their job. The greener the ice cream, the richer the matcha flavor, so go for the dark stuff. You'll get a nice caffeine kick with it too.