It’s with great relief and a tiny bit of sadness that this is my last post about my Japan trip. It’s been fun to blog about, and I hope y’all have enjoyed learning a little bit more about Japan and its cuisine as much as I did during my trip! Here are a few odds and ends of things I ate or drank that I thought were worth mentioning:
A Japanese pancake filled with lots of stuff, depending on the region. “Okonomi” means “what you like” so it’s really whatever you want to put in it. This particular okonomiyaki was filled with squid, egg, shrimp, and veggies, topped with shredded seaweed and okonomiyaki sauce. I went to this okonomiyaki establishment with my fellow Kyoto hostellers, where they only served one version of okonomiyaki. However, I’ve also heard there are okonomiyaki places where you can pick out what you want to eat from a salad bar or a menu and have your okonomiyaki cooked to order. This particular okonomiyaki was just ok, but pretty economical. My meal cost about $9 including a large draft beer. Good deal!
2. Convenience store rice balls
These were great snacks on-the-go. Not only were they cheap (about $1.50) but they were really tasty too! This one was filled with salmon. To keep the seaweed fresh, they keep it separated with plastic. With typical Japanese ingenuity, there was a really clever design on the wrapping that allowed unwrapping of the plastic without separating the rice ball. It was the equivalent of grabbing the tablecloth off the table without disturbing any of the plates or cutlery. It took me a while to figure this out, but once I realized that there was a numbering system, it was pretty easy. Highly recommended!
3. Kirin Lemon
Some of you might recognize Kirin as a Japanese brewery, but they also make a variety of non-alcoholic beverages, such as Kirin Lemon. It tastes like a less sweet version of Sprite and is super refreshing. Plus, don’t sodas just taste better from glass bottles?
4. The best bowl of instant noodles.
As the creators of instant noodles, the Japanese have got an unsurprising variety of instant ramen. Since hot water dispensers and electric kettles are a commonplace appliance in many hotel rooms and hostels, these bowls of noodles are a great snack. The one pictured here is miso ramen flavored. I should’ve taken a photo of the FOUR flavor packets it came with, including freeze dried shittake mushrooms. It was awesome and the most elaborate cup of noodles I’ve ever made. Yes, it was more expensive than its American counterparts at about $3/bowl but still well worth the money.
5. Eating at the train station.
There were a TON of restaurants in the Kyoto Train Station. I was tempted to return to ramen alley but since I had my luggage with me, I decided to go to one of the more traveler-friendly restaurants on the main level. As this was likely my last big meal of the trip, I went all out, ordering a huge set meal: salmon sashimi and roe with egg over rice, vegetable tempura, soup, and an egg, tofu, and pickle platter. I looked around and didn’t see anyone else eating this much. I’m sure the waiting staff were whispering to each other, “That’s the American girl who eats like a pig.”
6. Eating at Tokyo Narita Airport.
As with every international trip I go on, I try to use almost all of my foreign currency before I leave. I ate a big bowl of ramen for breakfast at Kansai International Airport. Then I flew to Tokyo, where I had an 8 hour layover. I spent part of that time working, another part getting a 20-minute massage at Raffine Refloxology (highly recommended! about $20/20-minute massage), and some of it eating. I got curry, which I hadn’t eaten my whole trip (pictured). For those who don’t know, Japanese curry is very different from Indian curry. It’s sweeter and much less complex, relying mostly on curry powder. This curry was decent, but I was annoyed at the fact that the coke, an impulse purchase, cost almost as much as the curry!
That’s all folks! Hope all of your meals are as oishii as my Japan meals were!
p.s. Some of you might remember that I stayed at a capsule hotel in Osaka. That was a funny experience; this NY Times article about the jobless resorting to long-term stays in capsule hotels — not so much.