Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Food questions for those living in Japan


prasantrin
 Share

Recommended Posts

I presume you tried the usual suspect places in Kobe, such as Kobe Grocers and the shops in Chinatown?

Perhaps try asking at the mosque in Kobe, the halal Indian shop near there (don't remember the name, but it is on the Kobe mosque web page) or the grocery store right by there (Kitano, I think it's called???), or have you already tried all these?

The ones which have a web page do have some unusual spices (unusual for Japan), but still don't look too promising for pomegranate molasses. Still, worth checking if you haven't already.

If really desperate, there is this amazon link, though it's quite expensive.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rona,

This one item I have yet to find here....

I just picked up a bottle in the US and brought it back with me. Sorry not to be much help. :sad: It wasn't that easy to find in stores in Cleveland either, I finally ordered it online from The Spice House.

Azian,

pomegranate molasses is used in Middle Eastern cooking and can be used with meats, beans, even salads and desserts. It adds a tangy-tart flavor. It is a very thick syrup and is different from grenadine syrup used for cocktails as this tends to have other added flavorings.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had tried Kobe Grocers, Meidi-ya, and Tokyu Hands. Foreign Buyers Club has pomegranate juice to be had, so if I can't find the real stuff I'll try the recipe zaskar linked to (thanks!). I had never even heard of Kitano Groceries, so it's on my list of places to visit. And Kobe Halal Food is just a skip away, so I may as well try them, too. They didn't have it on their website (though they did have rose water) but they may still carry it, or be able to get it for me.

The other option I was mulling was going to one of the Turkish restaurants and seeing if they had any to sell me or knew a source. There are a couple in Sannomiya, and at least one in Juso, so if nothing else, maybe I'll get some good meals out of my search!

I was thinking of making this recipe from FoodMan's Lebanese Cooking Class, which inlcudes this recipe which calls for pomegranate molasses. There are lots of other recipes to try, too.

Maybe tomorrow will be my lucky day to find it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yay, me! I think I got some! Kitano Grocers didn't have it--in fact they had pretty pitiful offerings, in general. But Kobe Halal Food had pomegranate concentrate and it looked like what I needed, so I bought it. From my research on the web, it does appear to be the same thing as pomegranate molasses, so I think I'm set! And all for just Y500! Plus I scored a can of gulab jamun from the same store, and a couple of packs of puff pastry from Kobe Grocers, for just Y500 each. Today was my lucky day!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Hello:

I have just accepted an offer to teach English in Japan for a year starting in January. I will be teaching near Nikko in a city called Utsunomiya in the Tochigi prefecture. I want a strong element of my experience to food related - both going to recommended restaurants and cooking in my apartment there.

I have been told that my apartment will not have an oven, but will be equipped with two gas rings. The corporation I am working with suggested I buy a Japanese cookbook or some cookbook that contains recipes primarily focused around stovetop cooking. I have Suvir Saran's book (Indian Home Cooking), but am not sure how readily available Indian spices and ingredients will be in my city. Can anyone recommend a suitable cookbook for me to bring along? I would prefer Japanese cookbooks, so that I can more readily find the ingredients and get a better taste for the culture's foods.

I would also appreciate any good restaurant recommendations for the area around Utsunomiya. I have read that gyoza, although Chinese, is popular in Utsunomiya.

At any rate, any assistance people could give me would be greatly appreciated. If you come to Minnesota I'll bake you my Finnish Coffee bread - it smell amazing in the oven.

A baker named Matt in Minnesota

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congratulations on your new position! I'm sure you'll have a great experience!

I've been to Nikko, but am unfamiliar with Utsunomiya so will leave that part of your question to others.

My very favorite Japanese cookbook, At Home with Japanese Cooking by Elizabeth Andoh, has long been out of print, but is available used at Amazon.com.

I also like the cookbooks by Emi Kazuko. Note that Japanese Cooking: The Traditions, Techniques, Ingredients & Recipes and A Kitchen Handbook: Japanese Cooking are the same book with different titles from different publishers, and The Japanese Kitchen: A Cook's Guide to Japanese Ingredients is excerpted from her other book. Amazon.com link

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used to live in Ujiie, which was three stops north of Utsunomiya. Nikko doesn't have much in terms of restaurants, as most are geared toward the tourist population. Utsunomiya is a relatively small city, and doesn't have much there, either. However, if you have a car, or are willing to pay for taxis, one of the best Thai restaurants I've ever been to (in or out of Thailand) is in Utsunomiya. I can't remember the name (perhaps I never really knew it).

My best advice would be to find some JET participants and tag along with them. JETs are really the best sources of information for these kinds of things, and I'm quite sure there is at least one in Nikko (probably two).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Matt, Congratulations!

First off about Indian spices, bring from home the ones you will want. Though Indian restaurants are quite popular the Japanese don't seem to have much interest in cooking it themselves. You may be able to get some of the basics in the spice section of a large supermarket but they will be much cheaper and a better quality back home. I place an order from Penzey's on every trip to the US and bring it back to Japan with me.

I am not sure what Utsunomiya is famous for besides gyoza as I have never been. I have been to Nikko once but it was a very long time ago. Check out the Tochigi Prefecture thread for more information.

Here is the link for the Japanese Cookbook thread you might be able to find some ideas there.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you come to Minnesota I'll bake you my Finnish Coffee bread - it smell amazing in the oven.

A baker named Matt in Minnesota

If you ever come down to Yokohama you are more than welcome to bake your Finnish Coffee bread in my oven! :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lot's of good ideas here - thanks for the input and the helpful links! Torakris - I may take you up on the bread baking - when I'm away from it for too long I get to where I just have to bake something! It will make your kitchen smell wonderful - it has espresso, cardamom, cinnamon, and pecans in it, all giving it a heavenly aroma. It also makes excellent french toast and bread pudding.

I had heard that having a toaster oven can be helpful, and will look into that.

Suzy, thanks for the cookbook recommendations - the Japanese Cooking one I've seen before at Borders when I used to work there - if I remember right, it's relatively inexpensive. I also have Thai and Curry cookbooks in that series that I'll bring along.

Torakris - do you pack your spices in boxes and ship them over, or simply make space in your suitcase?

It would be fun to get to meet some eGullet members in Japan while I'm there and do some cooking and baking!

Matthew

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Torakris - do you pack your spices in boxes and ship them over, or simply make space in your suitcase?

It would be fun to get to meet some eGullet members in Japan while I'm there and do some cooking and baking!

Matthew

I always pack them in my suitcase, spices take up very little space. I would really suggest bringing the ones you have at home. A small bottle will start around $4 and there are much better things to "waste" your money on. :biggrin:

If you plan on making any trips into the Tokyo area just post a note in the ISO thread or we could even attempt to plan a more formal event.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This blog is by a Canadian man teaching English in Utsunomiya. Not specifically food-related, but it might be worth having a look and/or getting in touch with the writer.

http://sushiandmaplesyrup.blogspot.com/

Small World: Thanks for this link. It turns out that this teacher is at the very school I'll be working at - his blog is going to prove an invaluable roadmap both for preparing to go and with settling in to my new surroundings. I've contacted him and he's been most helpful so far.

Thanks again!

Matthew in Minnesota

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to Japan. I've recently arrived in Tokyo myself and I'm still getting oriented with the food and cooking scene. On the subject of ovens, I haven't seen what's available in Japan properly, but I'm pretty sure you can get one if you're determined to have an oven in your apartment - a toaster oven's handy too, but it's not an adequate substitute. In Hong Kong I had a smallish countertop oven which did the trick just fine for things like roasting chicken but would have been too small for say turkey, and as I'm not much of a baker, I couldn't really say about how it would do with bread and cakes. Anyway, just to say that these things are available and not hugely expensive, but you'll need enough kitchen space to put the thing.

The two ring burner + rice cooker setup is just about standard across East and Southeast Asia, so you might find yourself adapting to that and using the oven less than you would at home - although plenty of Japanese make their own cakes and stuff with microwave/oven combos.

You're close enough to Tokyo to make the occasional trip (you'd be mad not to) so you can take care of a lot of your food needs, including cookbooks, when you hit the capital. There's plenty available in English on Japanese cooking, it's just a question of what you like the look of. A book I'd recommend for anyone living here is Richard Hosking's (?) Dictionary of Japanese Food Terms. Back on the subject of Tokyo, it's about the best city on the planet for eating out, so you can make your trips down from Tochigi entirely food-focused if that's your thing. In my Hong Kong days, I used to come over to Tokyo as much to eat as anything else.

On Indian spices, I don't know that I'd agree with Torakris on quality: I've bought them from no-one but Indian provision stores for at least the last ten years, on the grounds of freshness, variety, and choice of packing size. And it's usually much cheaper too, as Western spice companies favour those mini jars, which of course you get to pay for. In any case, you wouldn't want to keep them for too much longer than six months if you value freshness highly, so you may well need to restock once you're here. I just did a brief search and it seems Ikebukuro's the place for Indian/Pakistani stores: including Al Flah supermarket. Unfortunately, I can't navigate to the home page of the site that my search threw up (a decent list of ethnic stores), but there's a very brief description here:

http://www.bento.com/rev/0235.html, and maybe more on eGullet Japan as well - I know there's a food shopping in Tokyo page on this site somewhere.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cheers.

On Indian food, I have to mention the Indian section on eGullet forums: some really excellent information in there on well, everything. There's a particularly good thread, with photos, on someone's travails making pork vindaloo, with some guidance from another poster on how to make it authentic. Looked so interesting I had to try it, and damn me, he was right - far and away the best Indian food I've ever made. If anyone's looking for it in vain, let me know and I'll dig up a link.

With apologies for the digression away from matters Japanese...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cheers.

On Indian food, I have to mention the Indian section on eGullet forums: some really excellent information in there on well, everything. There's a particularly good thread, with photos, on someone's travails making pork vindaloo, with some guidance from another poster on how to make it authentic. Looked so interesting I had to try it, and damn me, he was right - far and away the best Indian food I've ever made. If anyone's looking for it in vain, let me know and I'll dig up a link.

With apologies for the digression away from matters Japanese...

as the host digresses even further...

I would love to see that thread, if you could dig it up I would be very happy. :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cheers.

On Indian food, I have to mention the Indian section on eGullet forums: some really excellent information in there on well, everything. There's a particularly good thread, with photos, on someone's travails making pork vindaloo, with some guidance from another poster on how to make it authentic. Looked so interesting I had to try it, and damn me, he was right - far and away the best Indian food I've ever made. If anyone's looking for it in vain, let me know and I'll dig up a link.

With apologies for the digression away from matters Japanese...

as the host digresses even further...

I would love to see that thread, if you could dig it up I would be very happy. :biggrin:

Somewhat confusingly, the whole story's spread over two separate threads, but I think one links to the other. To cut to the chase, follow this link:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=69386&st=0

and scroll down to Waaza's recipe at post no. 28. That's the one to follow.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the subject of ovens, I haven't seen what's available in Japan properly, but I'm pretty sure you can get one if you're determined to have an oven in your apartment - a toaster oven's handy too, but it's not an adequate substitute. In Hong Kong I had a smallish countertop oven which did the trick just fine for things like roasting chicken but would have been too small for say turkey, and as I'm not much of a baker, I couldn't really say about how it would do with bread and cakes. Anyway, just to say that these things are available and not hugely expensive, but you'll need enough kitchen space to put the thing.

Of course, counter space - or even kitchen space - can be in pretty short supply in most apartments in Japan...

I always lived in bunka juutaku while in Japan (two different places, two different occasions). For those who don't know what this means, it's wood and plyboard construction, two stories high, tile roof, very thin walls that let all the cold in during winter, tatami on the floor, and very, very little space indeed. But its cheap...

There was exactly one square foot of counter space in both places I lived, and that space had to serve for food preparation, placing cooked dishes (particularly while cooking three of four dishes on two gas burners), stacking washed dishes, etc. On the fridge were stacked a microwave, with a toaster oven on top of that, the rice cooker on top of that although it would be on the floor during use, and sometimes bowls of ingredients would be stacked precariously on top of the whole fridge/microwave/ toaster oven stack during cooking...

The sum total of storage space was the miniscule space below the sink and the gas burners. It wasn't possible to put shelves or other storage options on the walls because, of the four walls in the kitchen, one had the door to outside and the fridge with its stacks of things on top, the second wall has doors leading into the bathroom and the toilet with a washing machine taking up the small amount of space between, the third wall was a sliding door leading into the rest of the apartment, and the fourth wall had the stove, etc. The type of plyboard on the wall was too weak to allow shelves to be positioned (at least not without some type of structural alterations which the landlord would not have liked). The only real option was to screw hooks into the wooden support beams of the frame of the house and hang things like utensils, baskets of onions, etc. from them.

Pretty much all my friends lived in similar conditions, and everyone was happily able to produce meals of five or six dishes.

But the idea of adding an oven into the whole equation? Aagh. Where's the space? And would it worth it? The whole practice of juggling pans to cook several different dishes on just two burners with basically no space at all is actually good for creativity and for getting your cooking to branch out in new directions.

Although of course every time I see pictures of Kristin's kitchen and Hiroyuki's new one, I burn with jealousy. :wink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with you Anzu on lack of kitchen space. I'm currently struggling with extreme lack of space and lousy facilities (ie electric rings) in the place I'm in, though fortunately I'll be shot of this place in a couple of weeks. But getting an oven in my last place made things a whole lot easier, opened up a lot of new possibilities, and also meant I didn't have to ignore whole chunks of the cookbooks I brought from England. Now I wouldn't want to do without one, but I know that some kitchens/living rooms here are just too small. What I really want is a four burner, two oven setup like Mother uses, but even in HK, where they were easily available and not too pricey, I was never able to get one because the kitchens in Hong Kong apartments (in my budget range) are usually designed with Chinese families in mind - a concrete shelf on the wall just below waist height to hold that indispensable two-ring burner. There was never anywhere to put a full size oven.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just picked up Kazuko and Fukuoka's Japanese Cooking and am excited to try the recipes - I think I'll try a few state side before I get over to Japan. I've been thinking of shipping my karahi to Japan with my cookbooks - then I can use it for both Indian and Japanese cooking.

I am enjoying reading all of your posts and am grateful for the advice and ideas!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...