And I’m hungry again.
When people ask about our time in Japan, the topic of food always comes up. I figured it deserved its own album. Octopus anybody?
This picture was taken a few moments before the previous picture. Octopus on a stick street meat, delicious!
There are so many strange and wonderful foods in Japan I really struggled choosing photos (we have hundreds). How about some pancakes in a container to go? Complete with Maple Syrup and butter.
The Maple Syrup is on the right, you tip it into the larger portion and BAMM, pancakes on the run for your busy day!
One of the problems with eating in Japan is that unlike this restaurant, most did not have any English at all which would make ordering food very challenging. In the rare instance there was an English menu, it was usually poorly written and hard to understand.
Although there are some pretty good tools for translating Japanese menus (like Google translate), they didn’t always work. We were trying to understand what the server at the restaurant was saying to us. Hopefully this is wrong.
Fortunately for us, many places have little plastic versions of their food on display at the front of the restaurant. You could point, grunt and gesture in hopes of getting what you wanted. I’m told you can actually book a tour of the plastic food factory (seriously).
It was also fairly common to order your food from a vending machine. The machine would be located at the front of the restaurant where you would push buttons and deposit money. It would give you a ticket you take inside and exchange for your food. This bowl was purchased at a vending machine restaurant.
At the same vending machine restaurant both B-ri and I pushed the button for what we were sure was a little plastic beer. It turns out it was a nice big glass of whiskey; that was an interesting night.
On the topic of vending machines, they are everywhere in Japan. They have both cold and hot drinks. Sian isn’t impressed with her selection, which of course she had no idea what she had selected.
One of the most commonly available vending machine drinks was Pocari Sweat, the Ion Supply drink. You can see on the label that Pocari is similar in density to human body fluid. How can you go wrong with that?
You can even find beer vending machines, talk about convenience!
Speaking of convenience (slick segue there); the 7-11’s in Japan carry a wide variety of food you can quickly pickup. The selection is significantly better than in North America. All the food in this picture is from a small convenience store.
You can even buy 7-11 branded Wine. Which according to the label is Supporting Modern Lifestyles. This particular blend is from California, which is right up Roger’s alley.
And if 7-11 wine isn’t your thing, Then why not grab a juice box of wine to go!
At the other end of the price spectrum (compared to 7-11 food) is Matsusaka Beef. Matsusaka beef is a type of Wagyu beef made from cattle that lead a very cushy life. The cows are given full body massages with Schochu (A Japanese liquor similar to Sake) resulting in some of the best possible cuts of meat.
The Matsusaka beef is served at a table with a grill in the middle of it. You cook the beef on the grill for only 10 seconds and then eat it immediately. The description of melts like butter in your mouth is over-used, but it really is the only way to describe this meat. B-ri did point out that this is the most expensive meal he has ever ate that he had to cook himself.
One of our favorite ways of receiving food was on tiny trains. You would place your order on the iPad in front of you and a few minutes later a little train would come flying by with your food on it. You could then also see what everybody else was ordering as their little food train passed by your spot. B-ri wasn’t impressed that I interrupted his Sushi ordering to take a picture. B-ri loves his Sushi
I just happened to spot a train with French Fries going by my spot. What kind of person orders a plate of fries at a Sushi restaurant in Japan?????
I should have guessed!
We would find ourselves at a restaurant where B-ri and I would order something like this amazing plate of raw seafood. Octopus tentacle, Salmon & Tuna, Delicious.
Sian on the other hand was perhaps not as interested in eating raw octopus (claiming the 7-11 wine left her stomach not up for the challenge). She was still able find a menu item more to her liking.
As I mentioned, B-ri LOVES Sushi. And what better way to gorge yourself than with conveyer belt sushi. All the sushi dishes pass by you on a conveyer belt and you just pick what you want. The different color plates tell you how much each piece costs
B-ri’s stack of plates after eating more sushi than is safe or healthy. I should note that sushi in Japan is fairly different from what we get in North America. It is fresh and beautifully prepared.
Golden Shower anybody? (Google “Golden Shower” if you don’t know, I’m not explaining it)
This is a specialty dish from the Osaka area called Takoyaki. They are diced Octopus covered with batter and topped with onion and ginger. When we bought these nobody spoke English, however, a friendly passerby could speak English and Japanese so he stopped to place an order for us. People in Japan are very friendly!
Yakitori is chicken on a stick. However, you can get just about anything on a stick in Japan. Green onion, pork, beef.
Or how about some squid! On a stick of course.
Craft beer is just starting to pick up in popularity in Japan. It is actually very good!
Which is great, until you get out your phone to work out the exchange rate and realize that you just paid $40 for two beers.
A more traditional drink would of course be Sake, a type of rice wine. Sake is served cold or warm and there are literally thousands of different types. Here we tried a 6 pack sampler.
This is Okonomiyaki which is a local dish found around Hiroshima. I’m told Okonomiyaki means something like what do you want grilled, It is sometimes called a Japanese pancake. Typically, you sit right at the grill and eat it right away. This was very good and we went for Okonomiyaki on a few occasions.
How about some Coolish Ice Cream you squeeze out of a pouch for desert, bought from a vending machine of course.
Japanese Curry shops are surprisingly common. You could get curry with rice and some kind of protein for a reasonable price. Of course, Sian has hers with some hot dogs.
For a meal on the go your best bet is a bento box. Bento boxes are a pre-made box with rice, noodles, fish or meat and some cooked or pickled vegetables. This particular box we just picked up at a train station before jumping on a bullet train. It was quick, delicious and healthy. Some of the boxes have a string on the bottom you pull on that creates a chemical reaction under the box. The reaction then heats the contents of the box making for a nice warm meal you can enjoy at 300Km/h.
This was the only dish in Japan we elected not to eat; chicken Shashimi, Which means, raw chicken. The chicken is cooked for roughly 10 seconds so just the outside is a little bit cooked. I’m told that the cut of meat is picked to be less likely to contain bacteria but there is still some risk. It was our last night before we jumped back on an 11 hour flight so we made the safe choice and skipped it. Maybe next time.
We travelled 11 hours from Canada to Japan, to try some blue fin Tuna, which was from Canada.
Perhaps some Uni for desert – Sea Urchin.
Finally, Japan has some of the most incredible seafood. I will place a handful of pictures of the various types of seafood that was available to finish off this album.
And this is why our oceans are becoming depleted. But o so deliciously!