Thursday, March 19, 2009

Japan 7: FOOD

So, my idea of visiting Japan was to sit around eating cheap sushi all day. Of course, they weren't particularly cheap, but we did eat quite a lot of them - but there were a few sides to Japanese cuisine that I wasn't expecting. I had made a resolution to stop eating sweets for the duration of my travels because of some unfounded notion that the Japanese don't really "do" sweets. Not true. They don't seem to do desserts as such, but every tiny village has its own beautifully packaged sweet for sale at every train station and souvenir shop. Granted, the majority of them seem to consist of a rice-based pastry with a bean paste filling, but they certainly look nice!

Ok, as my head is rather full of Bangkok right now, some food criticism in brief list form.

The good:
Fresh, reasonably priced conveyor belt sushi (salmo, tuna, mackerel...)
Okinomiyaki - not pretty, and sounds disgusting, but pancakes with beansprouts, noodles, bacon and optional egg filling, covered with sauce and mayonnaise is a very tasty dinner.
Ramen in all forms, fried or soupy, expecially with a side order of Gyoza dumplings.

The bad:
Nato. Fermented soy beans, sometimes turn up inside rice things where you don't expect them. i didn't eat any, but they are extremely stringy and smelly, and taste better than they look and smell, which doesn't really improve the situation much. Very good for you though...
Watery Tofu for breakfast. Nuff said. Again, good for you, and Zen too!
Pickled Japanese Plums. One of these, unexpectedly eaten as an Onigiri filling, killed my appetite pretty immediately.

The indifferent:
Japanese Curry. Apparently very popular, looks thoroughly unappealing and tastes... not very exciting. But ok I guess. Will stick with my British Indian Curries, I think.
Fugu is exciting to eat, but not because it tastes great - in fact the sashimi we had was almost completely tasteless.

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