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Tasting Japan


sartoric
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We love Japan ! 

I don’t know why it hasn’t been on my travel radar until recently. The people, the places, the culture and history, and especially the FOOD.

There will be no Michelin stars in this report, nor will there be names of restaurants. We ate mainly at isakaya, (local restaurants where there were often only four or five seats), markets (including supermarkets) with a few larger restaurants for balance. There is food available anywhere and anytime if you know where to look. Rather than large meals we tended to snack our way through the day. Some of the best things we ate at “standing bars” no chairs provided. 

Karaage chicken with salad and miso was first up.

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The window displays are amazing, you can walk many city blocks underground through various shopping malls, handy when it rained our first day.

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At a local place. Chicken teriyaki, grilled peppers, potato salad, pickles.

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Charcoal hibachi.

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Grew to love sake.

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Don't skip the food courts in the train stations. Marvelous variety of food, and great bento boxes for traveling!

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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The country that never ceases to surprise and delight. There's currently no "number 1" on my favourite country list, it starts at number 2. When Japan has a smoking ban it will take that number 1 spot!

 

Place a coin vertically on the tray (in front of you) whilst the train is running and it will remain standing. That's how smooth the ride is. The layout is like the plane, lots of leg room in first class which is good for the partner who is almost 2m tall. The loo on this train is bigger than my bathroom at home. Japan has just unveiled the newest shinkansen, Alfa X, which will be even faster (over 400km/h).

 

Two backpackers in first class shinkansen.

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You see this all the time, people taking photos of shinkansen or in front of it. Shinkansen is one of the pillars of Japanese technology and they are rightly proud of it. Here you see 3 shinkansen together. The green one is first class Hayabusa from which I had just disembarked.

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I was enthralled at the sight. Note that many Chinese tourists rent the kimonos and walk around in them to make photos. They don't wear the make-up.

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I like the deep southern islands so much. You bike around all day and hardly see a face, just empty streets, cows and wild horses. But now there's a new shinkansen maybe it's time I started planning a trip to the mainland again.

Hong Kong was a big shock to my introverted system after 2 weeks of peace and quiet in Okinawa.

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I was still bowing to everyone for weeks after returning from Japan.

Edited by BonVivant (log)
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8 hours ago, kayb said:

Don't skip the food courts in the train stations. Marvelous variety of food, and great bento boxes for traveling!

 

We’re home now @kayb, but train station food was had, and bento boxes. All coming up soon.

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When you have a relatively small land mass with 125 million people I guess it makes sense that there are SO many eating places. 

It particularly struck me that everywhere the food was so fresh, beautifully prepared and delicious. 

 

These hand cut thick noodles were slurpalicious  in a tasty broth with vegetables.

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They’re a specialty of some region, unfortunately my shot of the menu is missing the all important first word. Mark had the spicy pork one in the top right hand corner.

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My kitchen shot missed the all important hand slicing board, sorry.

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Ordering was easy in this large restaurant, pictures and numbers, yay.

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Sushi time.

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Beer with tomato juice is a thing...not my thing, this is someone else’s thing.

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19 minutes ago, kayb said:

Every time I went to Japan, it ruined me for sushi for a year when I got back.

 

Ditto.  Although I only went once last November.  Still searching for that holy grail of sushi in the US.

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1 hour ago, sartoric said:

 

Beer with tomato juice is a thing...not my thing, this is someone else’s thing.

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In my childhood (1950s US West Coast), beer and tomato juice was a standard offering in people's homes. If they were drinking homes. 

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3 hours ago, kayb said:

Every time I went to Japan, it ruined me for sushi for a year when I got back.

 

We are lucky to live here with a relatively large Japanese population. Today I went to a shopping centre where I know there is a Fuji mart. Pleasantly surprised to see a new fresh seafood and sushi joint has opened in the same centre. It looked really good (and really expensive) they had a large selection of fresh seafood for sale, some I’d never heard of. All Japanese staff too :)

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The good news is, we had sushi for lunch today from our local place. Not as good as in Japan, but we’re not totally ruined.

 

One of the two pizzas we had in our two weeks. Pizza is big in Japan. This one with corn, chilli, cheese and chilli sauce.

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More teppanyaki, rolled chicken with leek, shiitake mushrooms, quail eggs and peppers. The pickles are like a cover charge, you sit down and they come automatically. There is a small cost. An elderly couple next to us keep they’re own big bottle of sake at the restaurant, it’s cheaper that way he explained with a wink.

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Another meal at a trendy warehouse styled joint - soba noodles with five vegetables. Served with a bowl of sesame dipping sauce and a beer, plus a pleasant Pinot Gris.

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Another isakaya meal near to Korean town in Ginza. Braised eggplant, obligatory pickles, stir fried mushrooms, omelette and chicken Yakitori. Every meal comes with a damp towel.

 

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You can see how close we are to the neighbouring table. Sometimes that is quite fun. 

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Edited by sartoric (log)
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From Tokyo we bulleted to Kanazawa for more delicious food, sake and sights.

The Nihishi fish market has much more than fish, one could almost live there. 

 

Two little stools to sit and enjoy your fresh seafood.

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Not inexpensive.

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Bamboo shoots and forest vegetables were in season.

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 A walk through sashimi bar where you pay first, then eat standing, moving along as necessary. We had salmon sashimi and a giant oyster.

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Shrimp, salmon roe, pickled fish and others, oh my.

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The market was surrounded by restaurants, a basement brimming with food options and a feeling of safety not common in other Asian countries. We returned here several times in our 3 day stay. It was crowded at times.

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Food at the market, shuffling while eating one giant oyster and salmon sashimi.

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Kanazawa is known for jibu-ni a duck and root vegetable stew cooked in dashi. Here’s a lousy photo, the dish was delicious. Also here we had tempura sweet potato, rice and sake. I love these isakaya restaurants.

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Sometimes you just want to have cheesecake and a glass of wine. There are a lot of Italian style restaurants and cafes.

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The bento box !

We arranged a goodwill guide to see Kanazawa Castle and Kenrokuen gardens. This is a free service run by Japan tourism board and on both occasions was excellent. Our guide T suggests we buy our lunch before starting the walk. In the basement of department stores are food halls, fantastic food halls. 

First choose your box with various goodies

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Then choose from a selection of several rice dishes

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It will be beautifully wrapped

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And look like this when you finally stop for lunch

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I chose a box with space for three kinds of rice. Loved the one with chestnuts.

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I think my favourite places to eat were the isakaya or local restaurants. Often there would be only room for 6 around the working area, counter like. In many places not a single sign in English or even a picture menu. Clearly we weren’t the target audience, but we were made extremely welcome. Google translate is miraculous. 

 

In this tiny place I had to set my semi vegetarian principles aside. I try very hard not to eat four legged animals, but here today pork tonkatsu was on the menu. We were served mountain vegetables with egg, pickles, salad, rice and miso soup.

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The owner produced three tastings of sake for us to try.

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Happily posed for the camera, see space of the kitchen behind ! Also note 3 sake cups on the counter.

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Not pictured are two other customers who engaged and made this a fun night.

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More meals from Kanazawa.

Breakfast at a cheap joint in the fish market basement.

A sushi bowl with prawns, calamari and salmon roe, rice underneath. So fresh, sweet and fun to pop the salmon roe. Next to it a seafood okonomiyaki, also delicious and total cost about AUD $12.

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Crab croquettes, oh my. Served with a dipping sauce and daikon.752A33BD-04F4-41A2-B22F-5AA8CAE196B0.thumb.jpeg.a5a23d691fd5924cdf6b55ab07d50a51.jpeg

 

Potato salad to go with, plus edamame.

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And special rice.

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Another great selection of sake on the bar.

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The sake is poured to overflowing, the box contains the overflow which you then drink.

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A gratuitous garden shot, the Kenrokuen Garden is peaceful even on a Sunday public holiday.

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Before we left Kanazawa there was pizza.

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Not bad, from this typical Italian joint.

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I love their food plastic 

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A giant fish head just chillin on ice, on the street, waiting for the restaurant to open.

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Onwards to Takayama where we spend our 25th wedding anniversary :)

This ramen bowl and gyoza were a mistake. Not because they weren’t delicious, we had no idea what was to come at our Ryokan Onsen....23584BB6-6095-47AF-AD7B-5A97FF9B5F8A.thumb.jpeg.ca10e19736ea4b52bcea324fd8a5d536.jpegB23A5515-EA2E-4B52-9A8F-28E6E5277C7A.thumb.jpeg.3b9cef412f0bf2ab404a41a6c45a17bd.jpeg

later...

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Great stuff, as (almost*) ever.

 

I'm wondering. You showed one English language menu. Is it common or not for places to have English menus? It's been 25 years since I was in Japan and there were none then, that I remember.

 

*You know what I am referring to! One lapse in judgement I can take! 😁 😁

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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    • By Drew777
      I'm a Brit. I'm also a closet Frenchman.  To cap it all, I'm happily retired in Bangkok, the city of a street food culture that's second to none. The Thais are healthy and slim. I'm just this side of alive and far from slim. Lockdown has me fantasizing about my days working in London, Paris and New York, an existence, if one could call it that, revolving around gastronomy of one kind or another. They paid me, not so very much as it happens, to do what I enjoy doing most in life. We all get to do it, but I was one of a fortunate few who made it his metier. Well all that's in the past now, but I still dream of my time in Paris when lunch was a tad short of 2-hours, little-known local bistros remained affordable until the day they were discovered by La Bible (Michelin Guide) and the students were revolting - this was the summer of '68, for heaven's sake. Someone should open bistro here in Bangkok with a table d'hote of Soupe a l'Oignon gratinee, Blanquette de Veau, a stinky Epoisses and Tarte Tatin to finsih with creme fraiche. Ah, it's back to lockdown and pad Thai. 
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