Thursday, December 23, 2010

Xmas in Japan! 5 Fooooooood love

How can I not have a page dedicated to Japanese food?
This here is a Udon bowl (more specifically a Kake udon) with scallop. Udon is a thick-wheat noodle with a warm soup made from dashi (fish broth), shoyu, and mirin (cooking rice wine). Udon originate from China, coming to Japan via Buddhist priests during the 8th century. It was originally only consumed by the nobility, but surpassed soba in popularity during the Edo period thanks to the production of shoyu. Thank God, it's so good, I would hate not to be able to afford such tastiness :)

Beef Curry after a Mandolin concert at Kitara concert hall (looks very much like Walt Disney concert hall! Apparently Yo-Yo Ma played here once some years ago). I've noticed Japanese people like to take other cultures' food and make it their own (Udon from China, Curry from India, Tempura from Portugal, etc). Curry supposedly came to Japan at the end of the Edo period when the ports re-opened. The first curry recipe was introduced in Japan in 1872. The Japanese were eager to adopt the Western ways including food (the West at the time was consuming curry, which they were exposed to thanks to colonies), but it was super expensive! By 1910, the common curry recipe of rice, onion, carrots, and potatoes was invented. Due to its nutritional value and easiness to make, the Japanese army adopted this recipe. It is one of the most common, popular dishes found in Japan today! You can find curry bread, curry soup, curry udon, curry nato (stinky beans) and much more! That's how much love there is for curry!

Oyako-don or "parent-and-child donburi." (because it's made with chicken and egg... kinda eerie imagery, I know.) Donburi's are sweet or savory stems simmered over a bowl of rice. This dish apparently was shortly invented before the 5th National Exposition that promoted Osaka industries. It's hard to find a delicious oyako-don in Japan, but I discovered this place when I was fourteen and I come here every time I come to Japan! It's in a small restaurant on the top floor of Daimaru. The egg is not over-cooked and neither is the chicken. It also comes with a nice bowl of traditional kake udon (plus a fish cake).
Another donburi, this is Unagi-don or broiled eel. I love the smokey flavors of broiled
(freshwater) eel! You can get cheap unagi, but it's worth cashing out on because good unagi is
simply DIVINE! There are many shops that specialize in selling unagi. This unadon also came
with a salad, a broth in which to put the eel's heart in (heart is on small dish in center).

Sushi at Hakodate! BEST. SUSHI. EVER. Hakodate is an old port that used to be a bigger city than Sapporo. Those days are gone now. But being a port means access to ocean and access to ocean means super fresh fish. Apparently, sushi can be traced back to 4th century BC Southeast Asia. It was more of a preserved fish dish: salted fisht fermented with rice (nare-zushi). This was taken out a few months later and was eaten, the rice discarded. Soon it spread through China and made it's way to Japan in the 8th century AD (Heian Period). The Japanese liked to eat the fish partly raw with the rice (seisei-zushi). During the Edo period, the Japanese started making Haya-zushi, which was a way to eat both rice and fish. Here, rice was combined with vinegar and put together not only with raw fish, but also with vegetable and other preserves. Probably one of the most distinct Japanese dishes out there.

Hamba-gu from Burger chain Bikkuri-Donki! I got the hamba-gu + curry set. No need to go over curry history :) Hamba-bu is the Japanese-take on the Salisbury steak. It is made with a combination of meat (usually a combination of pork and beef), onions, eggs, hamburger spices, and panko (instead of bread crumbs). Usually served with a side of shredded cabbage or salad. No buns with this burger!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Real Food Truck

The real food truck. Period.

Tako-Yaki truck (A dough ball containing octopus)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Xmas in Japan! 4 Munich Xmas in Sapporo!

German Xmas in Sapporo!? I just keep running into German culture wherever I go it seems! (A sign that I have to learn German :P)

Down in the heart of Sapporo Koen (Sapporo Park), there's a German
market going. This is suppose to go on till the 25th. There's a lot of food stands and decoration stands. The decoration aren't all German though (lots of Russian, which makes sense since Hokkaido is very close to Russia).

I got me some currywurst with potato salad and pretzel. Wasn't feeling up for beer (I was standing in the
snow) so I got warm amazake (sweet rice wine) to heat myself up. There are lots of foreigners here!

The park is well known for their snow festival with snow and ice sculptures, which I've been to a number of times when I was younger. It appears their Xmas attraction are lights! They are beautiful!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

X'Mas in Japan! 3

Stepped into TokyuHands! Here's a brief looksy ofwhat department stores are like during the X'mas season!

Giant Pocky boxes. Like a stocking stuffer :D

Year 2011 is the year of the Rabbit. You need to get ready for the New Year's too.

More New Year's decorations. Lots of bunnies!

A Xmas Tree shelf selling little Xmas decoration. Probably not the best pic, but hey, it shows that they're selling!
Fondu sets have been popular this year...

Xmas party hats.
Xmas goodies! Can you see the Xmas shoe? they're very popular in Japan. They're mainly filled with candy with wrappers of popular kid's anime.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

X'Mas in Japan! 2

Spent majority of the day in Harajuku today! Soooo many people here!

Before heading into the infamous Harajuku land (made famous thanks to Mz. Gwen), made a quick stop at Meiji Jingu. This Shinto Shrine has one of every type of tree you can find in Japan. It truly is beautiful! Walking in, I felt this sense of peace descend upon me. This shrine gets very packed during New Year's celebration. Everyone wants to come here to make their first New year prayers for some reason. After wandering around the pebbly road, taking in the sight, we turned around and headed back into the heart of Harajuku.

The energy is so different compared to the calm shrine! The road was packed and there was so much commotion wherever you looked! It was really draining.... But there was a lot to see! There are many creperies in Harajuku. Crepes are very popular among the teens. Cheap and delicious. Very good reasons. I ordered a strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla ice cream crepe. You cannot go to Harajuku without eating a crepe. Period.

The walls are covered with graffiti which I guess isn't so unusual for a city. In other parts of Japan, however, you are very unlikely to see it because cleanliness is highly prized here. I
passed by some flower shops which had more than your typical pointsettias.
Little ornaments dangling from the ceiling, reindeer logs, shrubs that look like xmas trees, and more. The flowers are gorgeous here! I have not once seen a brown spot on ANY plants here! I'm also digging the random Andy Warhol disply :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

X'Mas in Japan!

Here I am in Tokyo in the middle of December! I've gone to Japan many times before growing up, but never have I spent a X'mas away from home! I am quite excited to see what the holidays are like over here (especially the New Year!).

Took a flight first class to Narita Airport. Lucky me, I got to get off the plane with two bottles of wine for FREE! Score!

I am over at my older brother's place, he is currently living in Tokyo for his new job :)) Tokyo is pretty chilly, but there's no snow. Regardless, it is too cold for a Californian. There were a lot of blue lights decorating the bushes outside. Some white, but mainly blue. Not a big fan.

Also have a final paper to still finish... Off to Starbucks!

Super excited to begin my Christmas adventures in Japan!