Foreign Food Matsuri
Welcome to the February 2009 Japan Blog Matsuri! This month’s theme was Foreign Food, and we’ve got quite the blog smorgasbord from which to sup. We had a record-breaking total of 26 direct entries for this matsuri. If you add in the recommendations, it comes to a whopping total of 34 entries in all. Because some participants are inside Japan looking out at foreign food, whereas others are elsewhere looking at Japanese food as foreign, I’ve split the entries accordingly. Please make sure you don’t miss any of the entries! I’ve selected my own personal top 3 at the bottom of the post. When you’re done looking through the entire spread, head back here and vote for your own favorites in the poll.
Michael, the Gakuran Man of http://gakuranman.com/, introduces us to traditional fish & chips in English, and counts down the top 10 fish & chips shops in Japanese. Not only can you discover whether you should go for the lemony zing or the mushy stodge, you can find out where to get it!
YouTube legend Ken Tanaka eats Hawaii and breaks his mouth. No, really! That’s the title of his video about sampling Hawaiian food. Watch it to find out which kind of [profanity meaning "animal excrement"] is the best he’s ever eaten! You still think I’m kidding? Go!
David from the ::mdid:: blog discovers exorbitantly priced German Eisbein at a restaurant called Alte Liebe near Shimbashi. Have you ever had eisbein? Would you have paid the price to try it? What would you pay?
James at Japan Probe contributes what has got to be the smallest Italian restaurant I have ever seen! Check out this minute entrepreneurial establishment, and his ironic plans to “expand.” I’d definitely eat there, probably opting for the carpaccio and self-serve beer. How about you?
Ok, time for some shameless self-promotion. My own entry for this matsuri! I examined the selection of available peanut butter-like products in Japan. I did a video review, too. Please feel free to comment. I’d love to know how many people think I’m dead wrong about the conbini sandwiches, and how many people agree with me about the evil that is peanut cream.
Pikko of Adventures in Bentomaking makes a Beef Pasta Bento using Hamburger Helper! You can easily follow this “bentorial” at home. Who says bentos must be constituted solely of Japanese ingredients? Not Pikko, that’s for sure. But she does like things cutesy. Go tell her what you think at her site, and learn a thing or two!
Chris from Nihongo Notes teaches us about how British people craft bentos in an attempt to cause extreme gastronomic discomfort. Or something. Ha ha. You weren’t expecting 2 bento entries in the foreign foods category were you? I suspect Chris’ approach to bentomaking might give Pikko a run for her money. Sure, it may make you ill, but I know I’m tempted nonetheless. What would you add to his monstrosity?
Saitoneko from Life in the Korean Ghetto discovers that American Chili made with shichimi togarashi instead of the traditional spices results in…keema curry? I have to agree that some of the “slop dishes” over rice are excellent. I would probably opt for the traditional cornbread instead of the white rice, but that’s just cause I am a southern boy who misses his southern comfort food.
Jamie at Frugalista Japan laments the availability of foreign ingredients, and accurately notes that foreign food is not a frugal topic at all in Japan. Should you forgo foreign ingredients for the sake of environmentalism? Should you avoid price gouging? I for one vote nay to the former and aye to the latter. What do you think about it? Is buying foreign items at the supermarket worth it all? Go tell Jamie what you think!
Nick from Long Countdown reports on (and makes up some stuff about) baked beans. Shifty guy, that Nick. Come to think of it, this is the second British fellow on the list attempting to give us stomach trouble. What’s the deal? And in any event, do you think that baked beans could really save Japan from a food crisis? Weigh in (ahem) on the post.
Hao at Instant Ramen compares sashimi and ceviche! Mmmm! Have you ever tried ceviche? The Costa Rican version showcased here looks amazing. By the way, if you’re not into raw fish, this might be a great stepping stone dish for you, since it’s not raw technically speaking. Hao also recently won a logo contest for JapanSoc.org. Congrats!
Shichi at The Other East cooked a Baltimore Feast in Yamanashi. I am so jealous! The meal looks delicious. (Don’t miss the pictures at the bottom of the post!) I think it’s summed up by the words, “I noticed that of all of us, her grandmother was eating the most.” When grandma can’t get enough, you know it’s good!
Drew at Alpha Whiskey Hotel searches for authenticity in restaurants around Japan. This theme of this post was one of the reasons I chose the foreign food theme, actually. Have you ever been to a foreign food place in Japan that has a weird atmosphere? Does the “’stick random crap on your walls’ school of restaurant design” bug you, too? Discuss it over at Drew’s!
Jordan submits a pretty lame photo and pretends it’s an entry, but he knows that every bit helps. After all, as his site’s title proclaims, 塵も積もれば山となる. See his about page for an explanation. Luckily for Jordan, I am a gigantic fan of both donuts and Star Wars, so his entry is here. (I kid, I kid!) Would you wait in line like those in the picture?
Kirk at Jamaipanese declares his love for chicken foot soup. You may have guessed that chicken feet are in the soup. If you’re curious about the rest of the ingredients, or about how best to feed your pet Gundam, head over to Kirk’s and drop a comment! Sounds so yummy, and it seems to be a home remedy for just about everything – perfect.
Egmont at Katamari Democracy decided to start a mutiny. Instead of following the rules about no spam entries, here comes a whole entry about does Japan-style Hawaiian food. The insolence! There’s even a spam-related Monty Python reference! (Now if that’s not enough to entice you over there, I don’t know what is – so get going!)
Carlie from GoddesCarlie.com tried takoyaki for the first time during her visit to Japan last November. Did she love it? Did she hate it? It’s always about drama with Carlie. Find out what she thought, and tell her what you think!
Sanjo-chan of CEN.TAKU.ME delivers a refreshingly honest beginner’s approach to sushi. Not everyone is ready to leap willy-nilly into the world of raw fish. The adventure starts at a local grocery store and winds up experimenting at home with more familiar ingredients. What should be next on the menu? I recommended unagi.
Shane at the Nihon Sun shows off Japan’s very own “superbowl” (of Ramen) at Ippudo, a superb restaurant chain. Since you can order a custom bowl of excellent ramen at Ippudo (which I frequented on Waseda-doori in Tokyo), I’d always get the katamen (al dente) noodles in a bowl of akamaru kasane-aji. Shane prefers the shiromaru moto-aji. What would you order?
Tony of The Soul of Japan wrote about Yonezawa Steaks. Learn how to distinguish between actual, factual Yonezawa beef and the fake kind. (Who knew there was a fake kind?) Tony also discusses the history of marbled meat in Japan.
Shaun from Nippon the Bus reminds us to “remember the melon bread.” A wise sentiment indeed. What does it mean? Well, it’s an admonition to try new things – because sometimes you’ll find them pleasantly surprising. I, for the record, am a fan of melon bread, but not Calpis. But at least I tried it!
Ryan at the Ghost Letters discovers that 33-Spice Curry Lunch Packs are addictive munchies for your daily commute. Other than 33 spices, what could possibly be in these things that makes them a compulsive habit? By the way, next month’s matsuri is being hosted by Ryan. Cheers!
The one and only Japanator tells us what it’s like to eat with a Japanese family. Sure enough, three square meals a day are covered. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Bakery fresh bread, curry rice, and yakiniku, baby. Delicious. And it’s not just made up – it’s actually based on a homestay experience. If you’ve got any questions, head over to Japanator and ask away.
Brett at the Rainbowhill Language Lab leads us through 3 ways to enjoy Japanese-style curry and rice, as if we needed help enjoying it! Seriously, though, the difficulty levels are covered well, here. Are you the type of person who wants to make it from scratch? How about from a curry roux? Need instant gratification at a curry house? I’m usually the roux guy, but I switch it up a bit. Tell Brett what your approach is.
David, aka “Shack,” of Shack in Japan gives a mouth-watering description of wining and dining at a Japanese steakhouse. He has included the menu, so you can see what your choices might be. What a wallop on your wallet, though! Shack said, “I love Japanese and fusion cuisine, but sometimes you just want western food done right, and this was the real deal.” Be sure to visit his post!
Harvey at Japan Newbie
eats pond scum shows us the intriguing process of dining on yuba – the film that forms on top of slowly heated nigari and soymilk. That’s right – it’s basically the skin of an early tofu. Harvey says you eat it with a bit of soy sauce and some yuzu gratings. If you’re having trouble imagining this, you should go check out the photos! Would you try it? (I would. Remember the melon bread, guys!)
Deas’s Top 3 Picks: Hao’s post about sashimi and ceviche, Sanjo-chan’s candid post about trying sushi, and Harvey’s post about yuba. But hey, that’s just me. What did you think? Please vote for up to 3 posts in the poll below, so we can crown a reader’s choice royal court!
Which were your TOP 3 favorites?
- Peanut Butter (Deas) (33%, 7 Votes)
- Hawaiian (Ken Tanaka) (24%, 5 Votes)
- Ceviche (Hao) (24%, 5 Votes)
- Eating with a Japanese Family (Japanator) (19%, 4 Votes)
- Hawaiian (Egmont) (19%, 4 Votes)
- "British" Bento (Chris) (14%, 3 Votes)
- Chicken Foot Soup (Kirk) (14%, 3 Votes)
- Beginner's Sushi (Sanjo-chan) (10%, 2 Votes)
- Japanese Steak ("Shack") (10%, 2 Votes)
- Yuba (Harvey) (10%, 2 Votes)
- Baltimore Feast (Shichi) (10%, 2 Votes)
- Fish & Chips (Michael) (10%, 2 Votes)
- Beef Pasta Bento (Pikko) (10%, 2 Votes)
- Tiny Italian Restaurant (James) (10%, 2 Votes)
- Baked Beans (Nick) (5%, 1 Votes)
- 33-Spice Curry Sandwiches (Ryan) (5%, 1 Votes)
- Yonezawa Steak (Tony) (5%, 1 Votes)
- Donut Line (Jordan) (5%, 1 Votes)
- Takoyaki (Carlie) (5%, 1 Votes)
- Chili-Keema Slop (Saitoneko) (0%, 0 Votes)
- Melon Bread (Shaun) (0%, 0 Votes)
- Foreign Ingredients (Jamie) (0%, 0 Votes)
- German Eisbein (David) (0%, 0 Votes)
- Curry & Rice 3 Ways (Brett) (0%, 0 Votes)
- Authentic Restaurants (Drew) (0%, 0 Votes)
- Ippudo Ramen (Shane) (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 21
Here are some recommended entries, all but one of which were selfishly chosen by me. Hopefully the authors of these posts will participate in the next matsuri. Blue Lotus has some awesome food posts. I particularly like the dulce de leche from a can of Japanese condensed milk, the recent Valentine’s Day breakfast, and the awesome looking panko-crusted rack of lamb. Mmmmm. Claytonian failed to enter something this time around, but he’s got a video series about eating odd foods in Japan – I recommend starting with the grasshoppers. What a trooper. It’s like Fear Factor! I’d also like to recommend a few posts from a Japanese mom who recently commented on this blog. Her name’s Naoko, and she posts about food in English on her blog. You probably wouldn’t randomly come across her blog, so I thought I’d send some visitors to her. Try her entry about wakame seaweed, eating out in Japan, or getting a package from the US. Last, but not least, Ken Tanaka thinks you should check out his buddy Sku’s post on Jewish American Food. Doesn’t get much more foreign to Japanese folks than that, I’d wager. Looks like some great grub. If you’ve got more recommended reads that didn’t make the cut, leave them in the comments for us to enjoy.
Remember to check the newsroom and widget for information about the next matsuri, hosted at The Ghost Letters. Many thanks to Rising Sun of Nihon for hosting the last matsuri. The Japan Blog Matsuri was started by Ken Y-N at What Japan Thinks, and currently resides at the JapanSoc Community Blog.