Today the weather was beautiful. I packed a lunch, hopped on my bike and peddled out for an impromptu picnic.My neighborhood has a take-away karaage (fried chicken) shop which proves irresistible at lunchtime when they stack bentos in the front window. Next door is a sweets shop, so into my bike’s basket went a sakura-shaped sugar cookie for dessert.The sakura trees are just starting to bloom in Tokyo. I found a few over-achieving blossoms that had already fallen and scooped them up to take along. The wasanbon cookie was stuffed with azuki red bean paste and much too sweet for my liking. It looked pretty anyway.The footpath that runs through Setagaya is lined with small gardens, play areas, and occasionally a small stream. As I ate my lunch I dropped the blossoms into the water. They meandered about 5 or 6 meters before getting caught on a rock. A bit later a small girl noticed them and plucked one out, very proud of her find.Ah, spring.
Food Porn, Nagoya Edition
This past spring Dan and I spent a weekend in Aichi Prefecture with a friend to visit her family. It was one of the best weekends I’ve had in Japan. We visited Inuyama Castle during its springtime festival and watched the candle-covered wood carts creak through town, visited temples and an outdoor onsen, took in cherry blossoms along the river, and spent time with some wonderful people. And we ate a lot of food.
It was my first Shinkansen trip. So awesome. If you listen closely, you can hear Dan clapping and giggling like a 10 year old as the train approaches. OK, back to the food.
Because of the festival, Inuyama’s streets were lined with food carts. We started slowly with curry-filled croquettes, fresh from the fryer.
A shrimp pancake. Because why not.
Grilled miso-dipped mochi. And a feisty raccoon flag. This area of Japan is known for its miso, so the local specialties have a rich flavor, which I loved. I even liked it in the sweets.
Noodles for lunch, with more miso and yep, that’s a raw egg.
For dinner we had grilled eel, which might be my new favorite food. I try not to think about this when I’m eating it.
On Day 2 we were too busy eating to snap photos, and all I caught was our tea-time snack of grilled mochi in warm red bean…soup? broth? Who knows, but redbeansoupbroth was niiice.
A train trip wouldn’t be complete without a beer for the road. This was a local brew. Our friend’s mother then sent us home with a huge bag of goodies — cake, a pomelo, strawberry-filled mochi, tea, and a ton of snacks. She must be related to my mother-in-law.Follow @salisbua
In preparation for the Azabu Juban Noryo festival happening in our neighborhood this weekend, where I plan to eat my way from street-to-street for 3 straight days, I thought I’d clear some space on my camera and share a few food pics I’ve had in the vault. I’m not sure our hurry-and-take-the-photo-so-I-can-shove-this-in-my-mouth photography really deserves the label “food porn,” but in any case, I thought these few photos were worth sharing. Itadakimasu! *
A few weeks back, I was wandering the streets of Kappabashi (the kitchenware district, this site does a great job of describing it) and it was sooo hot and I was sooo hungry. I stepped into the only restaurant I could find, where, alas, there was no English to be had, so I ordered the daily special, which was a gigantic plate of tempura. Luck be a fried shrimp! (Two actually, along with mushrooms, okra, eggplant, and shiso. This meal was also served with rice, soup, pickles and tea. Oofdah.)
Dan and I discovered this place while wandering the streets of Shimokitazawa, a hip neighborhood of Tokyo that has been compared to Williamsburg in NYC. May I present a ball of rice wrapped in bacon (!), sort of like a meat version of onigiri. I may have put mayonnaise on mine.
Last weekend we found the ramen shop Gogyo, where the ramen is served black! I had the kogashi shoyu, Dan went for the kogashi miso. Both were “burnt” ramen, and I’m not sure how they got it that way, but the open kitchen had big flames and the ramen had that delicious almost-burnt, grilled-meat flavor. We’re definitely going back for the black (alliteration is irresistible!).
Tokyo summers — the bad part is that it’s hot, the good part is that there is kakigori, a shaved-ice mound of sweet deliciousness much like the slushie I wrote about a few weeks ago. Kakigori is seasonal, so I plan to eat as much as I can in the next month.
I went for red bean and green tea, and Dan had fresh strawberry with a sweetened condensed milk glaze. These poor guys really didn’t stand a chance.
There you have it. Don’t get me wrong, we eat a lot of weird and perhaps not-so-good things too (including the random mystery vegetables I try to cook at home), but those aren’t as fun to share. Or are they?
* Your language lesson for the day: Itadakimasu いただきます roughly means “I humbly receive,” and is a traditional greeting before a meal.
Sweet, Sweet Slushie
Seriously, this was so good.
It didn’t look like much from the photo I pointed at on the menu (I had limited choices and the other one was all green), but it turns out this ice is slightly sweet, and underneath the ice was azuki 小豆 (red bean), which is also slightly sweet, and it was the perfect treat for a hot rainy-season day. I’m not totally sure what the little green and white globs were, but everyone else was dipping them in the sweet slushie juice, so I did the same. The rose tea and matcha were a perfect complement.
The other great thing about this whole experience was that I successfully read (sort of) the sign out front, ventured inside even though it was on the second floor (gasp!), traded words in Japanese with the waitress, and then was rewarded with a delicious red bean slushie. Victory is mine!
So who else thinks this thing looks like a panda? I don’t totally see it, but Dan insists… perhaps I was just too focused on the deliciousness.
Kanoko 鹿乃子 5-7-19-1, 2F Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo