Lets explore three separate styles of cuisine that are notably popular here in Japan.
Yakiniku (sounds like yah-key-nee-koo) is a term which refers to “grilled meat” and was originally named for the Japanese interpretation of the Korean bbq. While it’s not as trendy as Sushi or Ramen, you can find several different restaurants specializing in this entertaining meal. Last year in Japan we happen to find one of the best in town… Flash back time!
This year we gathered some friends to try out a new stop up the road that seemed to be popular with the locals. A small problem, if you want to call it that, due to the lack of tourist in this area, the menu is only in Japanese. You’d think the pictures would be helpful… right?
To my left, Brandon and Jessica ordered what they thought was chicken and beef. What came out? Blubber and liver.
To my right, Kennedy and Lechich (navy friends aka- shipmates) ordered a thick cubed bacon. What came out? Layers of fat dividing red meat.
For my order, I played it unusually safe with fresh green Cabbage.
The total for four adults not including a few alcoholic beverages averaged about $18 person. My favorite part was the appropriate gum that came with the bill!
Next up we have a noodle based soup that was originally imported from China in the Meiji Period. In more recent decades, it has become a very favored dish in Japan. There’s a variety of options from soba, ramen to udon with flavors including but not limited to shio shoyu, miso, butter, reimen or hiyashi chuka. These meals range from $4-8 dollars depending on the size and quality. I haven’t had any this trip, but here’s a glance from a previous visit.
Time for my favorite… Sushi! Though we use the word “sushi” to refer to all of the scrumptious stuff that’s delivered on a wooden board, the word “sushi” actually refers to the sweet, vinegar rice. If you want more information describing in full detail the variety of combinations that grace the table for this meal, please google it.
For now, just know that it usually involves raw or seared fish, rice, sea vegetables, sauces and soy to create a beautiful mixture of flavors that pleasantly greet your taste buds. In other words, its simply delicious.
For our sushi experience, we got a group together at a local spot. This place has pictures on a huge menu, floating appetizers circling the bar and a very friendly staff.
After starting off with a warm hand towel, everyone continued by creating their own hot green tea. You put in the amount of powder desired, then use the fresh water spout to add blistering hot water.
We ordered a variety of fish to share around the table. From glazed salmon to garlic tuna and of course a few other pieces that we couldn’t figure out.
Next up, a gift from the waitress with a small cup of “surprise soup”. Awkward faces prepare for the first bite and although we still don’t know exactly what it contained, the taste wasn’t bad.
Since we’re on the note of mystery dishes, I saw that there was okra in some of the options… I love okra! We asked for “the best one” and out came a dish Gunkanmaki style with okra and what smelled like dirty socks dipped in expired peanut butter. Not my favorite.
For the grand finale, they treated us with their fresh fish specialty. It goes from swimming (literally) to your plate in less than 5 minutes! Once ordered, we watched them pull it straight from the tank to start the process!
They then “prepared it” by putting the raw meat on a small bed of rice (extremely tasty) and then serving the head and bones deep fried. The texture resembled an extra crunchy potato chip with a subtle fish flavoring. It was amazing!
Although ice cream, mochi and other desserts were offered, we went with a fresh fruit jello dish.
Total for this spread stayed under $13 a person! On the way out, there’s what appeared to be a colorful candy machine. Nope, it dispenses toys and puzzle games!
I chose to walk home for slight relief of my full tummy, which really only meant room for a new treat that I happen to see at a local mini mart! A green tea popsicle that hugged a sweet bean paste. I will say that although this is a “healthier option”, it’s not the best choice if you’re craving a good ol’ ice cream cone.