FOOD is my hobby.
I would gladly spend 30 bucks on a dish of food over some cute shoes or clothes. I didn’t realize this until I got to Japan. Since my move, I have been robbed of the many delicious splendors that Portland, Oregon has to offer. The food is cheap, authentic, and sometimes a little quirky (Portland food carts). But it is excellent, and there is a lot to choose from. Here on the little island of ol Nihon, everything seems to have it’s own Japanese twist. Mind you, I totally know that some places in America have American style (insert country here) food, but in Portland, the stuff tastes like the real deal! I feel deprived and spoiled at the same time. Some people would KILL to live here and only eat Japanese food for the rest of their lives. Spice-less, bland, fishy food. Don’t get me wrong, I freaking LOVE Japanese food, but a person can ONLY TAKE SO MUCH!!
But, because I am an optimist, and I totally believe in making the most out of ANY situation… I would like to dedicate this post to the little gems that I have found in Hirosaki so far. Not restaurants, nothing fancy, just some of the little things that I have come to love about Japanese food. So, this is for you yummy food…
Our prefecture is known for supplying the country with most of its apples. In fact, I bet you didn’t know it, but those delicious “Fuji” apples that you pick up at your local grocer aren’t from Mt. Fuji!! They’re actually from Fujisaki, a little podunk town right outside the city. The word “foreigner” gets used every day of our lives here. We hear it from students, teachers, passerby’s, but no one really means any harm by using it. We are what we are I guess. So, we could either get all bent out of shape because of stupid words, or we can embrace the reason while we’re here: cultural exchange. Kyle and I decide to embrace it. On many occasions, when we stop to fill up our car with gas, the little men working the gas station will give us presents! For no reason at all, other than the fact that we are foreign and they want us to taste Japanese snacks and juice! So this is of Kyle, getting a juice because he is a cool foreign dude.
If you’re a high school teacher here, chances are, that during Valentine’s day you’ll get your own batch of personally-baked cookies from your students. That is, unless you are a jerk or something. These students don’t just bake them, but they decorate them and make them look cute. In all my years of teaching in the states, I have only had 2 students bake me cute little cookies… and they were sisters… and they were 1/2 Japanese… go figure. But these are usually bite sized and semi-sweet, and often taste like green tea. They are awesome.
Dear God. This is freaking amazing. Stuff is expensive here, this is too. But you know what? I would pay a lot more than 3 bucks for a baby box of this stuff. It has cranberries, mango, pineapple, passion fruit, blueberries, granola, and coconut in it… COCONUT AND MANGO AND PINEAPPLE!! It’s like heaven in a little box.
I wish I could convey to you how much I love this stuff. Back home I used to go get bubble tea with my sisters and my mom all the time, and it was this delicious hot lavender milk tea. I had never had it before I went there. It was a bit spendy since it was at a shop and stuff, then I stumbled upon this gem here in Japan. This is found EVERYWHERE. And it’s cheap! You can add either hot water or cold water to drink this stuff, and either way, it is amazing.It is so freaking delicious. I brought home like 6 bags of this stuff when I visited last because my sisters and mom love it too. It is like… deliciousness. Sweet and creamy milk tea. Bliss. I don’t know where I would be in life without it.
It’s like your favorite food and a giant Cheeto had a baby. I am not kidding. Inside the plastic is a small puffed cylindrical corn snack that tastes EXACTLY like the flavor on the outside package. The first one I had was the one in the middle, which is corn soup. Now, keep in mind that my brain was telling me that it was probably like American snacks; when they say they taste like one thing they only KINDA taste like that flavor. These are different. THESE TASTE EXACTLY LIKE WHAT THEY SAY. Featured here are a Teriyaki burger, corn soup, and pizza. My favorite is Chicken curry, but I ate them all so I couldn’t post a picture. I can’t even begin to explain how weird it is to eat one of these things. They are amazing and only cost like 10 yen. And there are a TON of different kinds.
OK, this is not a gem at all. In fact, it is disgusting. Last summer my coworker took Kyle and I to the river where she came with a big box of donuts. I grabbed the most curious looking one that had a stick coming out from the bottom. I joked with Kyle and was like, “What is this a corndogdonut!?” Yup, sure enough, a hotdog donut. And when I say “donut” I mean donut. Sweet, sugary donut with a nasty salty hotdog inside. Barrrrrf, be careful when venturing too far from the known!
That’s right folks. There is no reading between the lines. That my friends, is actual cod sperm. And it’s a GEM here in Aomori. I can’t really describe it’s taste fully to you, but, it was in fact, sweet, fresh, and delicious. I hate admitting this because the sound of it is actually quite disgusting, and it is also the one thing I said I would never eat when I got here, but alas, I did. It was during one of my enkais, when the peer pressure is in full effect and all the teachers are peering into your soul waiting for you to take that leap of faith. Hah! Sorry to disappoint you my friends, but no vomit faces here, I loved it!
Woah man, woah. Total surprise to me. This is a rice and butter style dish that takes a little while to make apparently. But it is wonderful. This particular doria was curry flavored. Basically, they took rice, spices, sausage, veggies, rice and curry then covered it in a layer of cheese, stuck it in the oven, cracked an egg on top, and served it to us. I have no idea where this originates from (I think Italy), but its real home is in my belly.
I am a super fan of this! I’m definitely used to the family style restaurants, as I am 1/2 Vietnamese and that’s the way they do things, but here the food just keeps coming. A lot of times, there are places that offer an all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink set price. It is actually the norm when you go to places with a big group of friends. I love it. They have these big grills set up in the middle of the tables and you and your friends just throw on meat, veggies, and other yummy things, cook it right in front of you, dip it in some teriyaki type sauce, and eat until you wanna explode. It is awesome.
What would a post about Japanese food be without some sushi and miso? I love sushi and I love miso soup. It is easily available to anyone who wants it. My favorite is the red one there which is maguro (tuna). The one that is disgusting and I hate the most is the one on the very top which is uni (sea urchin gonads). These are often the two favorite among Japanese people. My coworkers gladly trade their maguro for a change to take the uni, and I happily do it! This picture was taken yesterday, we had a special lunch at school because the teachers were scoring tests all day long. Every year middle school students have to take a test to try and get accepted into the school, teachers must grade all those students’ tests within the next day. So, to give teachers a little treat, they usually get some nice beautiful lunch consisting of sushi and miso. Not baaaaaaaad.
So, these are the gems I have discovered so far in Hiro. You should think about coming to visit and trying them yourself! If you want, send us a little message and I’ll put some umaibo in the mail for ya!