Boiled Tofu, the Arashiyama specialty

I am not really familiar with tofu, I only read so much about it as a vegetarian substitute to meat in some recipes, and the sweet wrapping of inarizushi (a type of sushi that consists of sushi rice in a thin sweet fried tofu bag, and is one of my favorites).

But in Arashiyama, they have a specialty called (湯豆腐 = yudofu, Literally hot water tofu) which is a variety of boiled tofu with dipping soy and dashi sauce.

Tofu in steaming hot water on the right, sauce on the left.

Although bland in taste, the tofu was soft and warm (and so compelling to add cute :3 faces to)

The sauce gives the tofu flavor

Here is the final product, itadakimasu~

 

 

 

 

Yakiniku (Japanese Barbeque)

First of all, depending on where you come from this may not be a strange restaurant, there might be something like it with another name (Well, at least my classmates from Taiwan and Thailand, said it was common in their countries. The wise Wikipedia guy says they are available in the States as well)

It was my first time visiting that restaurant, where you grill your own meat, to me it kind of defeated the purpose of going to a restaurant, but it seems everyone enjoyed it. This particular restaurant had you pay by the hour (it was probably an all you can eat type).

Cooking their own meat.

Seasoned meat and vegetables.

Grilled meat and veggies, with various sauces (here, soy only)

 

 

 

 

Food courts in Japan

So, food courts aren’t really a new invention, they’ve been in malls for a while now, and have always been a place I avoided.

With their oily junk food and screaming kids (at least where I am from) I’d only stop for a take out pizza, or the occasional Burger King meal (I wonder what Burger King is here)

Those say there is no Burger King in Osaka, should explain this to me (Photo taken in Namba).

But let’s get back to food courts, well apparently the Japanese still had to put their touch on the food courts as well, here you will not find fast food, paper trays and plastic cutlery. The fast food joints were replaced by Japanese food shops (for example ramen and udon noodles, and donbori the Japanese rice bowls) with the exception of Mos Burger, which I wouldn’t really call junk food if you see the burgers they make. and the plastic trays (these are the only thing that I found familiar) now contain ceramic bowls to hold your hot food, that you have to return at the end of the meal.

Almost all the shops sell Japanese food (except when they sell pasta or Korean food, but that is one shop each)

There also ice cream and crepe shops which are actually good. It’s where I god the second ice Cream in this post.

And then there are a few of these stations which combine a sink to wash your hands, a water fountain (for the infinite free water) and a trash can, complete with a separate area for the ice. The friendly frog reminds you to return your tray (and the non disposable bowls and stuff) to the shop when you are done.

Of course since I am no good at taking pics when people are around, I didn’t take more, but what surprises me even in the crowded times is the lack of screaming children running everywhere, I actually enjoy eating there.

Also this particular place is a regular hangout for high school kids after school hours, but it is still quieter than the average food court.

 

 

One piece Gomu Gomu no Mi Melon pan

(This post is dedicated to my friends back home who love One Piece and actually pointed this out to me.)

One Piece is still so popular in Japan, it is actually the most popular show right now with a huge range of products. Anything you can imagine you will find a one piece version of.

So, during a promotion with 7-11, a popular combini chain, they have produced a One Piece themed pastry snack. The snack in question is made to represent the Gomu Gomu no Mi a fruit from the One Piece universe that apparently makes the eater’s body able to stretch like rubber (I don’t really know, I never watched One Piece, but I guess it’s time to start.)

The ad was there before the actual product. Also each one has a collectible sticker.

Then one day I found them ^_^

I picked one up, it had a Chopper sticker. Also the stem is printed on the bag to imitate the fruit from the manga.

 

Okay, no. Food photography is so difficult….

The filling wasn’t much, but it somehow thickened and became more in the microwave (Not pictured, and I don’t want to know how)

So, this was a sweet melon bread type pastry with a blueberry jam and whipped cream filling. It was sweet and tasted like blueberry jam (obviously) and I think I would buy it again, while it’s still available. And no, it didn’t make me stretch like rubber after all, and that was a little disappointing.

Pocky day~ (Extra post)

I know that today is Remembrance day, but is some subcultures…ahem, ahem…. it is also Pocky day, since 11-11 looks like the beloved stick style snack. I have heard about Pocky day before, but I never thought it existed outside of the internet. Until a few days ago.

I stumbled upon this cute sign in front of a big pharmacy near my school.

First, yes there are lots of candy and random things in drugstores here (Not sure how it is where you come from, but where I come from, we don’t have all that stuff in drugstores, just the drugs).

Then, what the sign says:

(“みんな大好き” = Minna daisuki) means that which everyone loves.

(“ポッキ-プリッツの日” = Pokki-Puritsu no hi) means Pocky and Pretz day (Pretz is a salty variety of Pocky also made by Glico).

And under the lovely sign, there was a stand with a large variety of Pocky and Pretz.

Nice selection of flavors.

I couldn’t resist picking some up, there is something always inviting about these Pocky sticks.

I picked the original one and the strawberry one from that drugstore, but the double berry one I had from before.

Do you celebrate Pocky day? If you do, tell me what you do on that day.

If you don’t, tell me what flavor of Pocky do you like.

 

The sushi train (A Kaiten sushi post)

Depending on where you come from, sushi is either available everywhere, or it is a rare delicacy. In Japan, it is both.

Yes, sushi is expensive in Japan, especially in the more upwardly restaurants, but there are still less expensive options if youwant to enjoy the popular Japanese treat (which isn’t by any means the most eaten food in Japan, even though it’s available everywhere, even in convenience stores and super markets).

Conveyor belt sushi (or (“回転寿司” -> Kaitenzushi, previously mentioned in this post) is the type where you pick the sushi plates off a conveyor belt and pay at the end based on the number and the value of your plates. This type is considered a cheaper sushi option, especially with the popular all for ¥100 style shops (Yes, they have this type of shops even in restaurants. the ¥100 coin seems so popular.) Many of these shops have some special dishes that you can order for more than ¥100, but your experience can be as good without those dishes. Of course you should note that the quality and size of the sushi may vary, but the freshness is unquestionable.

Most of the places basically have seats for individuals, like a bar, but with regular height chairs. And in most cases, a touch screen panel in front of each seat.

Some shops have booths for groups, but most of time people sit right at the belt like the picture above. And the chopsticks are in that box (Which is something regular thing there. It looks like no one takes them home.)

The menu poster, various sauces, and green tea hot water tap. (and a cameo by crab salad rolls)

So, the poster behind the conveyor shows the types of sushi served in the place, with the last raw usually depicting the different colors of plates and their respective values.

The tap like thing is actually a hot water tap for making green tea (which is free) you add a small spoon of the powdered green tea, and then fill your cup with hot water.

Depending on the place, the sushi is sometimes covered with a small cover, that opens with a spring when you pull the plate.

This is a touch panel menu, where you can order side dishes or sushi that isn’t currently on the belt. It comes on another belt, and stops at your place.

Almost all conveyor sushi shops have these digital menus, since the kitchen isn’t visible in most of them (but there is one I like where you can see the chefs working from your place and it doesn’t have these screens.) You make your order, then in a couple of minutes it arrives on another belt. At this particular shop where the photo was taken, once you take that special order you have to press the green button. This screen is also used to call your check at the end of your meal.

Salmon Nigiri seems to be a favorite everywhere. The plates are usually made of melamine, easy to handle and stack.

At Kura Sushi, you use the opening under the white arrow (in the picture above) to dispose of your dishes, and when you press the check button at the end the number of plates appears on the screen.

My favorite, Salmon with onion and mayonnaise (because in Japan everything is better with mayonnaise)

And before the Japanese start complaining about what the other countries did to sushi, they should always remember this. Corn salad sushi. It was good though.

Of course you could still go to one of those nice sushi places if you have bucks to spare, or if you think that this isn’t a Japanese enough experience, or for whatever reason you want. But for the rest of you, this is still an amusing experience (bonus points if you like sushi)

Random Japanese food (Traditional edition)

Well, there is another side to Japanese sweets, the traditional ones, the ones made from rice and green tea and red bean paste (Like the Taiyaki from this post), and these sweets are found almost everywhere, of course they vary in size and quality, but the ones I got never disappointed me.

Mitarashi Dango are mochi (rice cakes) with a thick sweet soy sauce. It was the first Japanese sweet I tired.

This is another variety available at 7-11, it’s a little sweeter than the above one and isn’t skewered on a stick.

Sakura mochi, which is mochi with a sweet bean paste filling, wrapped in an edible cherry blossom leaf.

Even though the photo doesn’t seem appealing, these green tea and walnuts mochi were really soft and delicious.