Yesterday’s post was a little bit of a downer, so I decided that today I would entertain and tantalize with less talk and more visuals. The Internet loves food porn. So consider this the foodie segment of my A to Z Challenge: Edible Japan! I tried local specialties and lots of treats while in Japan. I shall eventually compile into a collage, all the ice cream varieties I sampled since there were quite a few! But for now, a glimpse of some ofthe goodies I enjoyed!
Kamome No Tamago eggs are something I specifically went looking for in Tokyo. I posted about them prior to my trip, but to summarize, these are white bean paste-filled cake ‘eggs’ that usually serve as omiyage.
And yes, I ate all three eggs in this pack without sharing any. Sorry! My excuse is that they are quite perishable with a short expiration date. They never would have made it back to Canada without going stale or moldy!
I had seen this bizarre sandwich at a few combini (Japanese convenience stores). As cheap and boring as it looked, I somehow wanted to try one. Nearing the end of my trip, I finally caved and purchased this:
I wasn’t able to decipher the kanji on the wrapper, but for all intents and purposes, let’s call this a spaghetti sandwich. Google tells me that’s actually a thing. Mine was basically a hot dog bun stuffed with spaghetti noodles in some sort of sauce. What I wasn’t expecting was that breaded slice of what looks like…chicken? Pork? Is this a tonkatsu & noodle sandwich? The assumed tonkatsu had almost no taste nor texture. I may not have realized I was even eating meat had I not looked in the bun. That said, it wasn’t bad, really. Kind of tasty, though I can’t say exactly what it resembled! Amorphous? Amorphous is a flavor, right?
I’d wanted to try Momiji (Japanese Maple Leaf) themed sweets on my trip, but came up nearly empty-handed. En route to Itsukushima (one of two islands I mentioned in B for Believe), I found a chocolate-filled momiji at a train station omiyage shop. Soon after, I bought a cute little treat from a friendly Itsukushima vendor. Her treats were promoted as taiyaki momiji, but were more like a waffle-iron creation with slightly flaky pastry. I chose the ringo (apple) filled variety, which was cutely named Appuru – a transliteration of the English word, Apple.
It was yummy, but a little greasy for my anticipating-taiyaki tastebuds. Anyway, it was a nice hot treat for walking through the shopping streets. Oops, oh yes. Japan does NOT like when people eat or drink in public streets, especially near open air boutiques. I was starving and decided to be a rude tourist, but nobody seemed to take notice of me.
I dined at a Kushikatsu restaurant in Namba (Osaka), and was amused at some of the items they offered. Osaka is known for its kushikatsu, which is pretty much anything you can deep fry and put on a stick. Though the mushy avocado skewer was awkward, my favorites were the garlic cloves and shiitake mushrooms. Part of why I chose this particular restaurant is that their outdoor menu advertised ice cream kushikatsu for dessert 🙂
In Nagano on New Year’s Day, a friend brought me to a temple to make a wish. I’m not religious, otherwise we might call that a prayer. The lineup was long, so I had time to think what to wish for. At first I had selfish ideas, as most might. However, as soon as I stood in front of the altar to toss in my wishing coin, I knew exactly what to pray for. A friend had missed Christmas due to work, and I wished very hard that he might finally get time off, even if it was already January 1st.
I must have done something right, because a few days later I heard my wish came true 🙂
After visiting the temple, my friend and I took a walk. Nearby was a Manju shop with plumes of steam permeating the street. We were greedy and couldn’t choose between the two available flavors. So we shared both!
My favorite was the brown one. Instead of plain mochi, it had black sugar in the dough. It was sweeter, and a bit iron-y (think of the flavor of real molasses). The filling in both varieties was red bean paste (anko).
Of course I ate sushi, tempura, ramen and other amazing meals as well, but I’ll talk about those another time, and in more detail in the book I’m writing about my great Japanese Adventure!