Hi again! Today I’m going to finish telling you about all the amazing, delicious food we got to eat in Japan! I’ll talk about how some foreign foods are eaten in Japan, as well as our breakfasts and snacks. (If you want to hear about more traditional Japanese foods and some of the distinctive characteristics of Japanese restaurants, check out Part 1)
Foreign food in JapanEven the non-Japanese foods we ate in Japan tasted a little (or in some cases, a lot) different from the same foods in the States. I think the only exceptions were chicken and French fries.
|Apparently in Japan chicken tastes a lot like candy. (Not really... inside joke.)|
Billy was actually really happy to have that ketchup. He’s addicted to the stuff, and we hardly saw any outside of that one restaurant. Seriously, when they brought this out, I think he almost cried tears of joy.
Even McDonald’s and Burger King tasted different. We mainly went there for convenience, but also to rib a friend of Billy’s, who warned him not to visit anywhere so mundane while visiting an exotic foreign country. ;)
|Billy says "Hi Matt!"|
I did try an interesting new soda at McDonalds, called Qoo. I have no idea how to pronounce it (Kwu? Ku? Kyu?), but it was pretty good.
|Cheeseburger, fries, and Qoo.|
Because of the long and usually close interaction between Chinese and Japanese cultures, a lot of originally Chinese food has been incorporated into Japanese culture. One of my favorites was gyoza (which we in the States usually call dumplings or pot stickers) – pork and other ingredients wrapped in a crescent-shaped shell. (Apparently they are called jiǎozi in China, according to Wikipedia.)
Another delicious Chinese food was sesame seed balls (Japanese – goma dango; Chinese – jian dui). They were made from some kind of dough filled with sweet red bean paste and covered with sesame seeds.
|Sesame seed balls.|
And finally, there were the eggrolls (which I think most of you will be familiar with). Although I’ve tried all of these dishes in the States previously, they tasted so much better in Japan.
|Eggrolls. BTW, these and the sesame seed balls were served at the restaurant in the Hakone Open Air Museum. The food there was all so delicious!|
In Akihabara one day, we ate dinner at a restaurant just outside the train station, which claimed to be French. I’ve never eaten food that was supposedly French before, so I was a little surprised to see the meal I chose, which was a BLT and a delicious chocolate cupcake. However, I was even more surprised when I noticed that the menu board had to explain (in Japanese) what the letters in “BLT” stood for. It struck me as funny, but I guess if people in Japan don’t eat that very much, it makes sense that they wouldn’t know what it is. Once I got my “BLT,” though, the “bacon” turned out to be more like ham. XD But it was still pretty good.
|My BLT... or HLT...|
|Yummy chocolate cuppycake. <3|
Curry is originally from Thailand, I believe, but I’ve seen lots of anime characters eat it, so I had to try it in Japan. Of course, I’ve only tried it once before then, and that was in Arkansas, so I have no idea how authentic it was. But the curry I ate in Japan was very different. The curry I tried in Arkansas was like a really chunky stew, with big chunks of veggies and chicken in a spicy broth. Japanese curry was more like spicy mush. Don’t get me wrong; it still tasted pretty good. It just wasn’t what I was expecting.
|Curry and rice|
Italian food was what surprised me the most out of Japan’s foreign foods. We tried pizza and pasta at a few different places, but it almost always tasted very different from what we’re used to in the States. (I think the pizza I had at the Gundam Café was the closest to tasting like American pizza.) Peek-sensei told us that Japanese chefs go to Italy to be trained to cook authentic Italian food, so the Italian restaurants we went to in Japan were supposedly more authentic than the American Italian restaurants we’re used to.
BreakfastsAt the first hotel we stayed at, White Hotel in Kyoto, the staff was wonderful and served us a huge breakfast every morning. What was on the main plate varied from day to day, but it contained small portions of a variety of foods, usually including meat, veggies, fruit, and tofu. Every meal was served with milk (room-temperature, which most of us Americans found a little hard to get used to), a banana, and a small bowl of salad. For the first few days, they served what they called “Western-style” breakfast, despite the fact that most of it didn’t look like anything I’d ever eaten for breakfast.
After a few days, they asked if we would like to try “Japanese-style” breakfast, so of course we said we’d love to. When they served it, we began to see the difference between the two. The “Western-style” breakfast was served with toast and a big basket of sweet breads and pastries, and we were offered toast as well.
|This bread = yum.|
The “Japanese-style” breakfast was instead served with a bowl of rice and a bowl of miso soup.
|Of course, this was delicious as well. In fact, for a while after I returned home, I couldn't eat miso soup in restaurants here because it just didn't taste right. Japan had spoiled me. ^_^|
After our week in Kyoto, we traveled to Tokyo, and sadly our new hotel didn’t serve breakfast. Peek-sensei suggested walking to Lawson, a convenience store about a block from the hotel, to get breakfast each morning. Once or twice I got something warm and fresh-cooked, but I usually gave into the temptation to eat snack foods for breakfast…
|Lawson is awesome. I miss Lawson.|
Lawson had the most amazing mini chocolate chip scones I’ve ever tasted. I wish I’d taken a picture. Actually I wish they sold them in the States so I could eat them every day. We also tried taiyaki – fish-shaped custard-filled snack cakes – which were really good as well.
Peek-sensei was always carrying around rice crackers and/or some kind of snack mix, which everyone but me seemed to like. The flavor reminded me of Chex Mix, which I don’t like, but if you like Chex Mix, you should definitely try it.
Personally, I prefer sweet snack foods. I admit, I have a bit of a sweet tooth. (Read: HUGE sweet tooth!) Some other sweet snacks I enjoyed were mochi (pounded rice) balls and anything green tea flavored. (I assumed the flavoring couldn’t contain that much caffeine…)
Last but certainly not least… Everywhere we went, we kept seeing soft-serve ice cream being sold. We finally tried it while waiting for the pirate ship cruise on Lake Ashi, and it was AMAZING. Better than American ice cream, I’d say. And coming from someone who used to work at Dairy Queen (and get a Blizzard nearly every day), that means something.
|The amazing Billy with the amazing ice cream.|
Aaaaaand that pretty much sums up the food portion of our trip! Check back soon for more on Japan, including sight-seeing destinations, shopping, and travel tips! ^_~