Friday, February 9, 2007

Japan: An Overview of Gastronomy. PART II

And we continue along the longest, most unbelievably impossible task of trying to summarize Japanese food...

Tsukiji Sushi#3. Sushi - You all know what it is. However, some notable exceptions include whale sushi, Toro (fatty as hell tuna), raw shrimp, raw squid, raw octopus, raw anything, sometimes dolphin...but we didn't try that (yet).

Here's the deal. We all think food is so damn expensive in Tokyo. It is and it isn't. Sushi is actually wicked cheap. A lot of times you're spending the money on atmosphere, unless your spending more than Y3000. Than it's like a major increase in quality and you should expect it. On the cheap, there's this place in Shimokitazawa that our dearest friend Rona showed me where every plate is Y120. That's exactly a dollar for all ya'll counters. And that means tuna, yellow tail, snapper, tamago, salmon roe, river eel, salmon carpaccio (that rocked), octopus seven ways, squid five ways, bbq oysters, and then there are the specials. Like Anglerfish liver, the seasonal fish, and all the days leftover toro after 9pm. Even Dana flipped her lid. You'll spend maybe $12 or$13 before you can't move your so full. Speaking of Dana, she took Ben, my friend Mark, and me to her chef's favorite sushi joint in the world's largest fresh fish market: Tsukijishijo. We spent $18 on some of the best food I've ever had. It really hurts sometimes.

Week11 018#4. The Convenience Store - The Seven and i Holdings (7-11). The Family Mart. The AmPm. The Quick Stop. The on every god forsaken corner and every crack in between of everything store in Tokyo where you can get any number of unbelievably delicious, and sometimes nutritious, and notably intoxicating products. Of course, I visited these places and these products so much that I forgot to take picture of everything I'm talking about. Nevertheless, it's really important stuff.

We'll start with Onigiri (rice balls with fish or pickles inside wrapped in seaweed...well kind of). Onigiri was breakfast a lot of the time. At about Y100 a piece, they're not a steal, but a rather whole, unprocessed and nutritious food available every damn place in the city. The thing is, when you put the rice and the seaweed together, it gets soggy. So the freaks over at engineering school made a convenient 3 step packaging that keeps them separate until you open the packaging. It's fucking genius...and delicious.

tokyoWeek4-5 098Drinks: There are so many delicious sodas, juices, teas, and yogurty/milky/coffeey/thingies hangin around in a large conbini (that's convenient store) that it'll make your stomach hurt from trying them all. I gained a couple pounds that I promptly lost on the beverages behalf. Ranking in at #1 is good old green tea. The problem is that there are literally 10 brands to choose from. Most of them rock. Next is Caplis Soda. Then Mitsuya Cider. Then Yakurto. Then Bulgaria Yogurt drinkable. Then the Veggie/Fruit juice - that stuff is actually higher up there. Then there are the energy drinks - like Orunamin C, and C1000, and FibeMini. Then there is the world's worst fucking coffee. I only say this because I got black coffee in a train station in Busan for W300 (31 cents) that smelled horrific and tasted great. Unlike Japanese coffee which smells awesome and tastes ghastly. Yet I still went back for more. The need for caffeine.

Ice Cream: I apparently wasn't the first to point out that some of the best ice cream available on the planet is in a convenient store freezer. Yukimi Daifuku (Watching Snow Big Sacs) are perfect vanilla ice cream coated with sweet white flour dusted thin mochi (pounded sweet rice). I bought a box of nine of these thinking I would have some for a few days. They lasted a few hours. Maaxx. Then there are Pino - which are small vanilla ice cream conical objects coated with chocolate. Sounds simple right? Because it is. And the quality of the ice cream and the chocolate, and the really low level of sugar that you'll find in here is truly the winning recipe for another one of those you dare not put in front of me lest I eat every last one of them. Why are sweets that aren't so sweet so good?

There's also terribly not great beer, wonderful shochu, sweet liqueurs from China, more great instant ramen than you can deal with, tissues, detergent, regular shit, tokyoWeek3 135but the food - Oh, steam buns with curry meat, or bbq pork, or pizza flavor, or seasonal Chinese shit, or sweet bean paste. Did I mention you can get respectable Japanese curry, spaghetti dishes, new and crazy sandwiches (like the strawberry cream sando or the pork cutlet sando), salads, hot and cold anything, they provide the microwaves, hot water, and any utensil/eating/drinking implement you can think of - Anytime of the day, 24/7, 365, for pocket yen. I lived in the Quick stop and 7&i by Sakura House every morning, snack time, inbetween snacktime, second mealtime, and drinky drinky time. Unless I was at Shochu Authority, which is a whole blog onto itself.


Cunnalinguist said...

Looks like a fucking fabulous adventure. Though, I understand that the blog revolves around food, and that the goal of the trip is to experience Eastern delicacies, but I'd love to read some about the culture of the places you're going to, some idea as to where you've been so far, more information on the cost of getting around and eating, and just some general information of what you're doing outside of food.

Also, the Ben in Benetnate feels lacking. Am I mistaken in that most of the writing has been done by Nate thus far?

Ben et Nate said...

Hey Peanut,

This is a pretty equal endeavor - Ben has legitimately done half of the work. The funny thing is, we haven't blogged even 20% of what we've eatne or you can only imagine that the cultural and topographical/travelogical information would fill a few books word?