Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Eating

I don't have many images of food on my camera as when we've been out I've been too embarrassed to whip out my camera. We attract enough staring as it is without that as well! Those of you waiting for food pics will have to make do with these:

Ummm, can't remember its name but it was noodles in broth with a tempura prawn

Our first sushi meal out and my first introduction to sashimi - I love this shot of Ella (on the right) seriously inspecting her food

Norimaki from the supermarket

Tuna and Salmon sushi from the supermarket
One of the things I was looking forward to experiencing in Japan, after the blossom of course, was the food. Now for a girl who's not travelled in Asia, Japanese food is a bit of a challenge.  Add three kids and an inability to read Japanese into the mix and it gets really interesting!

Food shopping here is very different. Food is expensive and that's because it's locally grown, there are very strict rules on imported food and there's not a lot of it around. Apparently only 2% of all the tea grown is exported, I love that and think New Zealand could learn a lot from that too, perhaps if people were willing to pay a fairer price our farmers wouldn't be struggling so much against cheap imports. The Japanese shop daily, they like their food fresh and partly assembled so at our local supermarket I can buy any number of mostly unidentifiable offerings, then heat them up at  for dinner. I've been cooking rice or rice noodles and vegetables when we're eating in and adding gyoza (pork dumplings), or soy chicken, or pork cutlet. Lunches have been sandwiches, sushi or salad, bought from a mini supermarket which are everywhere. My favourites are glass noodles salad and shrimp wraps (Thai maybe?) and norimaki - kind of inside out sushi, the rice is on the outside of the roll. Being unable to read food packaging definitely has it's pitfalls, when I was making scrambled eggs the other day I cracked the first egg and it slid out of its shell whole, turns out an egg is not just an egg in Japan, the ones I'd bought were soft boiled...

It's often cheaper to eat out and we are surrounded by lots and lots of little eating places. A lot of them have seating room for only a handful of people, others have ticket machines where you purchase your food then take your ticket to the counter to collect your meal. The menus are always written in Japanese so we tend to eat only at places with plastic food displayed in the window or with a menu with pictures. We love looking at the plastic food, some of it is so life-like. Most restaurants only sell a small number of dishes in a particular style so you get Sushi places, Ramen (noodle) shops, Yakitori (anything grilled on a stick), Korean BBQ and lots of others

Despite plastic food and pictures on menus, we still don't really have much of a clue what we're ordering and while there've been times at the end of a long day when it's been frustrating, we are trying to see it as just part of the fun of being in Japan. We're lucky in that Anthony has been here before and knows a few things to order. On Sunday night we were taken out for a fabulous meal by Ryann, a NZ expat who's lived here for 17 years, it was a relief not to have to worry about ordering and the food we had was delicious. The Japanese tend to order lots of different dishes throughout their meal so all around us there were shouts for the waiter as diners wanted another dish brought to their table. We had grilled pork and chicken sticks (yakitori), little shellfish and octopus yakitori (not so delicious, too chewy for my liking), skewered chicken meatballs, sashimi (raw fish, not sure what kind), an amazing salad with a lot of different leaves, chickpeas, blanched broccoli, kidney beans and a lemon and soy sauce dressing, grilled fish (this was so good the kids devoured it so we had to order another) and to finish the yummiest little bite-sized icecreams called Pinos.

We are staying in a business district so there are quite a few international food restaurants around us, I've spotted lots of Italian and French restaurants. There are also three McDonalds, one Burger King and a Subway, all within five minutes of the apartment. We've had one meal at an Italian restaurant but we found the Japanese take on Italian unusual, the pizza was pizza though and that kept the kids happy!

So while I'm getting my head around the food here the kids are still struggling a bit. We've been here ten days now and although they are getting more adventurous, McDonalds still remains their preferred option for a meal out. They did really enjoy the meal we had with Ryann though so there is hope. She gave us some good tips on what to order so with any luck even they'll be converts by the time we come home!

2 comments:

  1. That looks amazing! I just popped over after your comment on my pork belly salad to say you have to seek out an Izakaya that serves kakuni pork belly. It's my favourite dish in my favourite Japanese restaurant in Sydney. Melt in the mouth!!!

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    1. Thanks Greer, that sounds like what I'm looking for :)

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