Miscellaneous Food Pics #12

Holy shit a new blog post!

Oh wait, it’s just another food one.

1. Cabbage ‘Cider’

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Yeah…

I mean, I saw it and I just had to buy it.

Fortunately it didn’t taste anything like cabbage, it was basically fizzy sugar water (not even alcoholic! the outrage!) with a faint aroma of cabbage.

totally worth the 250¥ for the novelty, but yeah, not something I’ll ever buy again.

2. Donald Trump ‘gourmet’ milk chocolate

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Hmm, this post is turning out a little weirder than usual. Oh well.

This was given to me as a present (or just a joke, I don’t know), by the wife of the couple I’m working for. They got it from a friend who bought a few bars of it whilst on vacation in Hawaii.

It tasted like cheap advent calendar chocolate, and there wasn’t an image of Donald Trump inscribed in the chocolate.

I was most disappointed.

3. マジミラいちごサンデー (Magical Mirai Strawberry Sundae)

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I don’t know if I’m going to be posting the Magical Mirai pics publicly, but I was most definitely there eating this surprisingly predictably expensive ice cream (though it did come with a free gift).
What actually surprised me was the fact that the filler/base was not cornflakes! It was rice crispies. wow.
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Apparently it doesn’t take much to surprise me.

4. Multicoloured Soumen Noodles

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Because I guess if someone would want unnecessarily colourful noodles it’d be me.

5. Miso ramen

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Ridiculously good ramen at a quiet place buried in the alleys and sidestreets of Ueno. Looks pretty standard, but it was pretty fantastic. Probably the 2nd or 3rd best ramen I’ve had in Japan.

7. Style free beer

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I get it, “style free” because it’s me! Hahahahaha.

No.

Sugar-free beer, ideal for diabetics, or people that want to drink disgusting-tasting beer.

8. 久しぶりのナイフとフォーク (First knife and fork for a long time)

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First time I’ve used a knife and fork in something like 5 months…so that was fun. Also, the combination of food was pretty…interesting.
Steak + jus – fine.
+ cabbage – o…k, sure, I’m I guess we work on a cabbage farm, so ok
+ spaghetti bolognese – no.

and of course there was rice and miso soup on the side, because Japan.

Joking aside, that steak was cooked perfectly and absolutely delicious.

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Miscellaneous Food Pics #11

1. Beef tendon curry (牛すじカレー)

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Curry once again features in the misc food pics, because…it’s great, this curry however was absolutely gorgeous – not my favourite in terms of base curry flavour, but it was impeccably spiced, slightly sweet without being gross (and not containing raisins, god that shit is disgusting). Plus a huuuuge portion, which was great after a day sweating to death in Takayama.

2. Rabbit ice-cream (うさぎソフト)

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Don’t worry, doesn’t contain any rabbits, it’s just an ice cream with a rice/wafery thing of the local mascot/character of Kawaguchiko – a rabbit that is basically just a pain the arse from what I read.

3. Houtou noodles (ほうとう)

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“Are you going to climb a mountain? Eat this huge bowl of crazily thick noodles and you’ll have energy for hours.” Is basically the gist of this meal – doesn’t taste too bad, but really it’s all about huge portions.
Story time: So whilst at this restaurant there was an american couple sitting at the next table, and they were talking about buying some t-shirts from the restaurant (it was obvs. very touristy) for their (adult) kids. They weren’t sure of which size to get, but the shirt that one of the waiters was wearing seemed about right. So they tried to ask the waiter what size t-shirt he was wearing (without using Japanese), and they weren’t really getting anywhere, so the wife said “Oh I’ll just go up and check the tag on his t-shirt”.
Immediately I thought “Noooo! Why would you do that!!?! How would you like it if some random foreigner came up to you and started fiddling with your t-shirt”, so I used my crappy Japanese to tell the dude what they wanted to know and that was that.
So apprently the moral of the story is that all it takes for me to talk to other people, is to avoid a tremendous amount of second-hand embarassment. Good to know I guess.

4. Umeboshi Chūhai (梅干し酎ハイ) aka one of the worst drinks I’ve ever tasted

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So like, umeboshi is pickled plum, it’s known for being sour (しょっぱい) and not to many foreigner’s tastes. I find it kinda ok, it’s nice on a hot day in onigiri, but aside from that not great. In this drink, the combination of umeboshi and alcohol was just absolutely repugnant.

And of course, before you ask, I finished it (shit, not letting decent alcohol go to waste).

Miscellaneous Food Pics #10

1. Fruits au lait (フルーツオ・レ)

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Do you like tropical fruit juice?

Do you like milk?

How about tropical fruit juice AND milk???

Please Japan. Stop.

2. Hanton rice (ハントンライス)

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Another example of a Japanese take on western cuisine – a local specialty in Kanazawa (金沢). It’s actually a combination of omurice (fried, tomato seasoned rice, wrapped in a slightly runny omelette), topped with ketchup, tartare sauce, and in this case a couple of deep fried prawns and deep fried chunks of fish.

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yummers!

As with omurice, it manages to tow the line spectacularly between gross and pleasant. Definitely more enjoyable than omurice, though missing the tasty demi-glace sauce seen in some omurice varieties.

3. Yuzu chuu-hai (ゆず酎ハイ)

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Managed to accidentally order this at a restaurant, and it was really good (and quite strong alcohol-wise!). For notes, ‘yuzu’ is a citrus fruit of Chinese origin, but is used widely in Japanese cooking; and ‘chuu-hai’ is basically any long, or ‘highball’ (where the ‘hai’ comes from) drink made with strong Japanese liquor or ‘shōchū’ (where the ‘chuu’) comes from.

4. Squid sashimi (イカ刺身)

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A whole damn squid for about £5?!?! Man I loved Kanazawa.

5. Chick Daifuku (ひよこ庵)

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don’t worry not made with actual chicks!!

This was great, combining traditional Japanese Daifuku (mochi stuffed with sweetened bean paste) with a sweeter taste and a cute design. Yum.

Also I talked a little while with the guy that ran the store, turns out that a) he worked in a Japanese sweets shop or ‘wagashi-ya’ (和菓子屋) from a young age b)he studied european flavours + confectionery-making in Italy for 5 years and c) he runs this store in Takayama 高山 by himself. All of that plus he was really cool.

Bonus. Chewing gum (ガム)

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Because everything needs to be a promotional item (not complaining here!)

Miscellaneous Food Pics #9

1. Zunda Mochi (ずんだ餅)

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Looks like mushy peas right? Well guess what, it tasted like mushy peas too. Turns out it’s boiled, mashed and sweetened edamame served over mochi, but my god the entire time all I could think of was mushy peas…which would be fine if it wasn’t supposed to be a desert.

2. Toyama Black (富山ブラック)

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So Toyama Black is a style of Ramen from, yep Toyama 富山, the ‘black’ coming from a fish based soy sauce that is boiled for hours to give the whole dish a black appearance. Have to say, compared to some other black ramen I’ve had (burnt miso + burnt soy sauce ramen) it was pretty meh…but of course that doesn’t mean it wasn’t tasty – just not as rich a flavor as I was expecting.

A note on where to eat this though, on the…10th? floor of Kyoto station there’s a ‘ramen street’ which has 8 ramen shops, each selling ramen from a different part of Japan. I’d already tried about half of the styles in their respective regions, but it’s a pretty neat idea.

3. Spinach curry with pork katsu and sausages (ほうれん草カレー、ロースカツ、ソーセージ)

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Delivery edition! (hence the sink background.)

So wasn’t feeling particularly well today, and after yesterday’s exams I thought I’d eschew talking to people and get some food delivered.

Delivery isn’t quite as common in Japan, but being in a big city (Kyoto) there’s plenty of choice. Curry was great, and it’s one of those foods that is almost always going to be as good as actually going to the restaurant.

Shojin Ryōri (精進料理)

When people say Japanese cuisine, fish (often sushi) is what you think of.

Funny aside, literally every single person that I’ve asked “What food comes to mind when I say British cuisine?” has answered either “bad-tasting food” (lol) or “fish and chips” – which is made even funnier with fish and chips in Japanese being フィシュアンドチップス (“fishu-ando-chippusu”) which is always a riot to say.

Aaaaanyway, so for one whole sect of Buddhism in which eating anything animal-based food is forbidden (essentially vegan). A wholly different cuisine exists – Shojin Ryōri (精進料理), or literally: “Vegetarian Cuisine”,  “Diligence Cuisine”, “Ascetic Cuisine” depending on how you want to translate it.

Now, I say ‘wholly different’ but really, it’s quite similar to standard Japanese cuisine with substitutions, the trickiest usually being how to replace the stock used in soups and noodle dishes which is 99.9% of the time either made from pork bones or dried fish.

Kyoto being absolutely jam-packed full of buddhist temples has an abundance of restaurants that serve Shojin Ryōri, everything from quick bites to fancy multi-course meals at buddhist temples.

I opted for more toward the former, and chose a cafe that’s a 5-min walk from my apartment, which is incidentally just down the road…

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…from a really cool temple

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Yes I was reading the “Guide to Buddhism in Japan” whilst waiting for my food. Frankly I was more surprised they had an english menu (not that I needed it grrr.)

So, clockwise, starting with rice on the bottom left we have:

  • Rice cooked with adzuki beans
  • Okra, sesame and noodle salad
  • Sweetened mashed potato
  • Spring roll
  • Miso soup
  • Chocolate mousse
  • and in the middle, typical Japanese pickles – Tsukemono (漬物) and shirataki noodle salad

The miso soup was particularly good – it wasn’t a seaweed base, and I still can’t quite work out what the base was, but it was delicious.

The mashed potato and the chocolate mousse were both pretty bleh.

Overall, pretty tasty, whilst not ‘better than eating meat’ tasty, still worth a try.

(oh yeah, I was originally going to write like 1 paragraph about this and then write about another shrine I visited, but I ended up blabbing-on, hence why this post is a little light on the photos – more next time!)

 

 

Miscellaneous Food Pics #8: Konbini Bread Edition

So Konbinis (convenience stores) are great, I’ve alluded to this in previous posts, but you can do so many things there – which I’ll probably talk about in a later post. Today though, konbini food, specifically bread (because I could spend a year making posts about konbini food alone).

1. Yakisoba roll (たっぷり焼きそばロール)

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Ok…I’ll say it.

Worms in a bun.

That’s what it looks like right?

Well thankfully it’s not that – it’s yakisoba (stir-fried buckwheat noodles + sauce + veggies) in a bun. I feel like the bun adds nothing here other than being an edible bowl, which I’m totally fine with.

2. Curry Bread (ビーフカレーパン)

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Up there with the yakisoba roll as a Japanese lunchtime staple. It’s curry wrapped in dough, breadcrumbed and deep-fried…so of course it’s delicious. This being a konbini (コンビニ) = convenience store variety, it’s not amazing (and doesn’t compare to the fresh stuff I’ve had), but still good.

2. Sugar Margarine Lunch Pack (ランチパック、シュガーマーガリン)

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Margarine + sugar sandwiches. That’s all it is.

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I don’t know what I expected, it’s pretty gross.

Cup Noodles Museum

Yup this exists.

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So I guess as everyone knows, instant noodles (ramen, udon etc. etc.) is a pretty huge business throughout SE Asia, particularly in Japan. So of course there’s a museum (I think there’s actually another one somewhere near Tokyo) dedicated to cup noodles.

It’s a little outside of Osaka city, whilst still in Osaka prefecture in a city called Ikeda (池田). So I guess I can technically update the map (it’s been a while)!!

There’s only a few areas to the museum, the first being a collection of many of the different types of instant noodle on an impressive timeline display – it was pretty much the only part I took photos of because it was actually really cool

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The different lines represent different brands of instant noodle, and how they changed over time, starting on the right.

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Two of the highlights:

The first instant noodles チキンラーメン “Chicken Ramen”

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and the first cup noodles

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Both invented by the same dude 安藤百福 (Andō Momofuku).

There’s an area opposite which outlines the invention of these 2 key products, going into great detail about the decisions to be made around what container to use, how to pack the noodles, what ingredients to use and loads more.

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As an aside, before coming to the museum I already knew most of the information because there was a whole chapter about it in one of my textbooks…which sounds a little weird, but it’s like Japan’s most famous invention, and a surprisingly important cultural icon.

Anyway, moving on

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There were no performances on today, but I wonder what constitutes “Cup Noodles Drama”.

And finally, you get to experience designing your own cup noodle!

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The presence of felt tips should indicate it’s aimed at kids, but I had a play anyway – and since I can’t draw for love nor money there will be no photos of my creation/abomination (I think it might still be in the bin though…).

But aside from the cup itself, you get to witness a miniaturised version of how they pack ramen for the actual product – how they pack the noodles; how they seal the lid etc. etc., as well as getting to make your own custom flavour combination which you can take home and enjoy as you would any other instant noodles.

I went for a curry soup-base with

  • Char Siu pork
  • Sweetcorn
  • Garlic
  • Cheese

All in all, good fun 🙂

Hmmm, I have suddenly become aware that this makes 2 ramen-related posts in a row, and 3 food-related posts in a row….so maybe something different next time.