Memoirs of a Gaijin: Foodie Goodie

So you travelled all over southern Japan. Looked awesome to me! That probably made you hungry.

Like you wouldn’t believe. The food was everywhere and plentiful.

How would you describe Japanese cuisine?

Awesome. If you’re not picky, you can devour anything and everything!

Even if they can’t speak English, food is a universal language and Japan is full of picture menus so if you go hungry in Japan, you’re a bit dense. Just saying.

I see I’m influencing you quite well.

Is it Stockholm syndrome if it’s imaginary? Anyways, I ate so much and at random places so what I will do is just describe the most memorable ones and let you splurge on all the #foodporn after.

So what stories do you have to share?

Well, first was our encounter with what we called ‘the food sensei’. We were randomly walking around Shinjuku and this old man got into my shot. I put camera down and he bowed politely to say ‘sorry’ and I bowed back out of respect and took pictures again. As we walked down the corridor, the old man was pointing at random signs and as I looked quizzically, he gestured that these were eateries, recommending us which places were good!

He was an awesome man.

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There he is! White hat and everything.

I wish I knew where we were as I’d recommend them to you but I don’t!

Wow! Now let’s get this party started.

Sushi – Everywhere. The worst Japanese sushi restaurant is probably on par or better than majority of Calgary sushi restaurants. It’s that fresh and available. Your cheap bets are the conveyor belt places:

Udon – These noodle dishes can fill you cheaply and they’re on every block. So rich and flavorful. My favorite is kitsune udon (udon with sweet tofu on top):

Kushikatsu – This was a find through my Japanese friend as he brought us to Shinsekai, the originator of kushikatsu or deep-fried kabob. You pay by the stick so the more you eat, the more you pay but it was cheap and delicious!

Convenience Stores – The best part of Japan is that you can get legit, delicious meals at the convenience store! Beyond hot dogs and burritos, 7-Eleven and Lawson (their competitor) offer onigiri (rice ball), bento boxes, sushi, etc.

Fell in love with their many flavours of Hi-Chew, unavailable in Calgary:

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Ice-cold peach-flavoured water. The most refreshing bottle of water you will ever have. Ever. 

Vending Machines – Everyone knows that Japan is littered with vending machines and that’s an understatement. They’re everywhere and if you’re close to a train station or within a metropolitan city, your Suica card can be used not only in convenience stores but vending machines as well. One tap of the card and out comes drinks:

Street Food – Near Shinjuku, Yanaka is a quaint, peaceful area that will submerge you in traditional Japanese street food for cheap. 200JPY can fill your belly and there was a bakery that had Astro Boy memorabilia. What more can you ask for?!

Meanwhile, Osaka is known as foodie country and rightfully so but one of their big deals, takoyaki (octopus dumplings), didn’t sit well with me. The textures were just too weird for my taste…

Shinkansen Food – Long journeys on the bullet train will make you hungry. Too bad it’ll also make you broke. Bento boxes are double-digits when you buy it on the platform or on the train so my suggestion to you is buy it at the convenience store beforehand:

Koreatown – Everybody goes to Chinatown but Koreatown in Osaka is where its’ at! With it being the largest in Japan, you can submerge yourself in kimchi and bulgogi to your heart’s content. It’s also how I discovered Lawson’s Red Chicken Nuggets. Combine that with onigiri and peach water; a delicious meal for cheap, bar none. Thanks, Ottavia Bourdain! :

Chanko-nabe – In Ryogoku, the sumo district runs wild with various stables housed within this area. A popular sumo meal is called chankonabe, which is a big hotpot meant for bulking up. Yours truly, conquered one successfully:

Shabu-shabu – All you can eat beef hotpot? Yes, please.

Designer Malls All over Japan, there’s merchants and then there’s multi-storied designer malls. This is where they sell fancy food, including this half-off bento box because they were closing! It’s neat to look at and you wouldn’t even want to buy it because it looks so pretty that you don’t want to ruin it!:

Dessert – Get ready to get a sugar overload because from waffles to ice cream, it’s in every block.

Horumonyaki – It’s open-flame grilling of offal or the insides of beef. Best late-night, get tipsy meal in Osaka!:

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Asahi on a late-night splurge. Why so much head?

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Asahi never tasted so good!

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I regret nothing.

Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum – A big tourist spot in Osaka, this is where the world’s first instant ramen was invented. The cool part is that you can design your own Nissin Cup Noodle and customize flavouring. You even get to see how it’s sealed in!

Wagyu – Ah yes, Japanese beef. The holy grail. I tried Kobe beef from Henry Tei but as a fellow blogger mentioned, it’s not as exciting as it’s portrayed. I mean, I expected a lot when I saw this:

However, the best one I had was a different breed called Matsusakagyu. The trick is to quickly sear it and just let it melt in your mouth.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:

And here are random eats that we did including a steakhouse full of wrestler pictures, a maple leaf-shaped food that wasn’t sweet (turns out it was a fishcake!), the first Starbucks in Japan, our goodbye meal at Narita Airport’s United Lounge, and Lotteria, where kid’s meal runs supreme!:

O.M.G. You weren’t kidding when you said you were a ‘foodie’. That looked to be some adventure!

Indeed it was but there’s only thing that I’ve been wondering.

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Are these dog treats? Because I ate them and they were good but they were selling with dog toys and stuff.

This is the end… Unfortunately.

Or is it?…

– Don

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5 Replies to “Memoirs of a Gaijin: Foodie Goodie”

  1. Food Overload, I’m so hungry now! And thirsty too —- I loved all the those fruit flavored waters in Japan. I would always buy one from the vending machines at the train stations.

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