January 16, 2012

ReCPY: Food Report from Japan

by Moto

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Happy New Year!  I can’t believe the holiday season passed so quickly, and now we are in 2012.  Soon we will be bitching about the hot summer.

I was in Japan for the holidays, and had quite a few good food moments. I am really thankful to iPhone since I can now take pictures anywhere (and pretty decent quality ones).

Wine in a can.

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Top part becomes a glass for your drink — a brilliant idea. But it tasted pretty crappy. I bought this before my flight to Melbourne, after enduring a 13-hour flight from New York to Tokyo, and I went right to sleep after drinking it, so thank you crappy canned wine.

Very pink shabu-shabu beef from Nagano. I think I had four shabu shabu meals during my stay, and every time the beef was extremely pink. I am not young any more, and my doctor warned me that my cholesterol is too high and to avoid beef, but when I am in Japan, it’s just impossible not to eat fatty beef.

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People say you don’t need teeth to eat these babies, and it’s very true. They literally melt in your mouth.

MOS burger. The best hamburger chain EVER.

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Despite so many selections like pork tonkatsu with cabbage, or teriyaki chicken with crispy lettuce, which are two of my favorites, I ordered the original MOS burger, which has a huge slice of tomato, minced onion, and meat sauce. Heavenly.

For the first time in my life, I went to the Tsukiji fish market. I was not interested in seeing bunch of fish, but I was very much excited about going to a sushi restaurant there. Since they are directly connected to the market, the quality of fish is superb, and prices are very reasonable.

Neighboring restaurants Sushi Yamato and Sushi Dai, are the most famous ones in the area, hence the lines are very very long. I hate waiting in lines, and I asked one of the shop persons in the area for another recommendation and he suggested Iwasa Sushi. We still waited about 30 minutes, but it was SO worth every minute of the wait.

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I am still salivating from looking at this picture.

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From left: very sweet squid, aji (horse mackerel), kohada (gizzard shad), fatty tuna, and my favorite of the day, katsuo (bonito).
The katsuo was so sweet, and almost creamy, as was the tai (snapper). So good.

This place  features a lot of different kai (clams), and my friend ordered kai galore. I can’t remember what they were, but they were apparently awesome.

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Uni, say no more. When I was in San Francisco, I had very good Santa Barbara uni, but it doesn’t compare to this one.

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Shirako, aka raw fish jizz. It literally bursted in my mouth…

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It was like dessert.

This is the original Yoshinoya.  I had no idea they started in Tsukiji.

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After Tsukiji, I went to Kappa-bashi, which is sort of similar to Bowery Street here in New York. Store after store of restaurant supply and kitchen gadgets. I was in heaven. Look at these food items made out of wax!

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The reason I went to Kappa-bashi was because I was picking up my press. I ordered MOTO logo press. How cool is this?

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How cute are these coffee cup balconies??

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I was done with busy Tokyo, and went back to my hometown. On my way back to rural Japan, I stopped by at a home supply store (I needed to buy scissors to cut nose hair since they were getting way too long), and found bags of fermented cow poop as fertilizer.  I mean we all know animal poop is used to fertilize soil, but I’ve never seen them packaged and sold in bags. Look how happy both farmers and a cow are.

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Japan is obsessed with crab meat during holiday season. Holiday season is all about spending money, and Japan is no exception. In the US, the holiday meal is usually turkey, ham, steak, etc., but in Japan, it’s crab or beef. This was a newspaper ad filled with crab meat.

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My brother went fishing in the middle of the night one day, and came home early in the morning with super fresh horse mackerels.

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He served this fresh sashimi for breakfast.

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Unfortunately there was no rice to eat with, so I had a bagel. Bagel and horse mackerel sashimi for breakfast. I usually don’t care too much for small fish, but these were super fresh.

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By the way, WTF does “Orange & Lemons said the bells of saint clements” mean on the plate?  Is this a total Japangrish? What an odd mixture of dishes, too. Anders wouldn’t approve of this. Soy sauce on a fake Pooh-print dish? My home is equipped with very odd mixtures of dishes, in sets of 3, since mom, brother and sister-in-law are the only regular residents of the house.

A couple days before New Year, I tagged along with a friend of mine to a fish market nearby. Extremely busy, since everything there was quite reasonably priced. Snappers are also big during the holiday season, and there were bunch of them. Did you know there are various types of squid? Mongo, aori, yari, to name a few, and each has different shapes and texture.

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Here are the items I brought back from Japan.

This is one of the fine purchases from the trip. Silicon cooking chopsticks. I wanted dishwasher safe chopsticks since my wooden ones got pretty bent from high heat, yet I refuse to hand wash them.

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These are far better than wooden kind since the tip grips extremely precisely. Unlike the wooden kinds, they don’t slip at all.

Do you know what this is?

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Slide in a piece of seaweed.

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And it punches out smile face. How cute?  There were a couple of different faces. I bought them at a dollar store. I may have to start character bento spree.

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These are very convenient — you can now make conbini (convenient store) style rice balls. Seaweed can be stored separately and so whenever you eat it, it’s always crispy.

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Japan is filled with cool food stuff.

I don’t miss Japan much as a whole, but I do miss Japan’s high quality food. I went to Mitsuwa market in New Jersey to feel good, and surely I found a lot of good stuff, but Mitsuwa is always very dangerous. $32o, for I don’t even remember what I bought….

4 Comments

  • Anders
    Posted January 17, 2012 at 2:00 am

    Great post. Ah, missing Japan… I also have a photo of the cup balconys, it’s close to Asakusa so lots of tourists float by.

    True, the plate mix is totally dame, but I’ll let it pass since they feature freshly caught sashimi, can’t beat that.

    The MOTO branding iron is very cool. Will we be seeing a closeup of Nate’s branded behind soon?

  • Christy
    Posted January 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    I’m confounded by “there was no rice to eat” with the sashimi. What kind of Japanese household is that?!?

  • Clare
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I never see a seaweed smile face before :)

  • Posted February 9, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Ah, Mos burger! My favourite too. And the sushi at Tsukiji Market looks delicious. Btw, ‘oranges and lemons…’ is from an English nursery rhyme yo.

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