Some MORE things I just LOVE about Japan: The Food!

4-Natto’s not-so good- And I could live my entire life without another morsel of Goya touching my palate. But everything else, so far, is delicious!

Yes, I came for the adventure and stayed for the food.  I talked about the Japanese obsession with calling everything Japanese to distinguish it. Well, when it comes to food, it’s just about accurate. Their food is exceptional.

“Do Americans eat rice?” my co-worker asked me.

“Ah, well, I can’t speak for all Americans, but I do…”

“Do you like Japanese rice?”

The question used to irk me. Yes, I’ve eaten rice from other countries but…maybe it was just the Japanese tag. But, now, hell…I can see what they mean. They should be proud of their whconoverpriced rice. It’s the best rice I’ve ever tasted. Sorry Mom…but I could eat Japanese Rice for the rest of my life. If I ever go home,  I’ll be shopping at the Mitsuwa Japanese super market in New Jersey cause they import it. No more converted/parboiled rice for me please. Uncle Ben’s ain’t never going in my mouth again, if I can help it. (I don’t care if he is Chairmen of the Board now and him and Aunt Jemima done jumped the broom) (-:  My mother was loyal to her Uncle Ben’s. She served it up for us 3 or 4 times a week since i can remember. And, though occasionally dry, it was generally pretty good.

Then, one day, you come to Japan and you get your first taste of real Japanese rice. There’s no pomp and circumstance. No one says, “Brace yourself for the experience of a lifetime.” If you’re like me, you went to your girlfriend’s house for dinner with her family, and Okaa-san does it up right, with a whole lot of other dishes, and a rice cooker full of rice. She serves you up a heaping bowlful and you thank her and impress her with your use of Nihongo and chopsticks. Then you place a heaping pair of chopsticks-ful of this insipid looking rice into your mouth, and the milky, silky, hearty smoothness of it just takes your breath away. Thank goodness for Uncle Ben’s. It I hadn’t been weened on it I don’t think I could have fully appreciated the exceptional taste of Japanese Rice.

Oh, and ramen. Forgetuhboutit! I thought I knew ramen. It was so cheap…and perfect for the munchies (-;

“Do Americans eat Ramen?”

“Ah, well, I can’t speak for all Americans, but I do…”

“Do you like Japanese Ramen?”

You grumble. Then, if you’re like me, You stop at the local Ramen shop in the station which is always crowded so you figure it must be good or cheap or hopefully both. And when you enter you see Salarymen and Office Ladies sitting around a long counter slurping it down. And when you hear the slurps you cringe and think, “Now, my mother would slap me into next week if I pulled that shit at home.”

A cute waitress comes and kneels before you with a pad and asks for your order. You point 10-ramento the picture and say, “this please.” It’s the set: Shoyu (soy sauce) Ramen, gyouza (dumplings) and fried rice, and a namabiiru (regular beer).  It arrives a few minutes later and looks something like this. →

And nothing like this ↓


Which is what passed for ramen back in your neck of the woods. You know, that Nissin Top Ramen? Anyway, there’s half an egg, and seaweed, and bamboo, and a healthy slice of pork and some pink and white stuff made out of fish paste and you say, “Well, I’m here now!” So, you dig in. And then you taste it and you exclaim: Whoa Nelly! So THIS is Japanese Ramen? And then you try to slurp it like your neighbors but you burn your lips, tongue and any other part of your mouth that comes in contact with it. So, for a while, you pick it up with the chopsticks and blow like you did back home to cool food off. But, not for long, because you wound up stopping at that station Ramen shop at least once or twice a week  and eventually learn how to do the proper way: The Japanese way.

Honorable mentions: Okonomiyaki, Nikutofu, Yakiudon, and Yakisoba. I never had any of these in America but I’m sure if I did I would still like the Japanese version much better.


Nope, natto’s not-so good.  →

“Do Americans eat natto (fermented beans)?”

“Ah, well, I can’t speak for all Americans, but…oh hell yeah I think I can on this one, NO!”  (-:

And I could live my entire life without another morsel of Goya touching my palate…

But everything else: delicious!


16 Responses to “Some MORE things I just LOVE about Japan: The Food!”

  1. January 8, 2009 at 1:45 am

    I am frankly a little nervous about not having my comfort foods – I am a sad, sad creature of habit and I like what I like. We’ll see how this goes – cross your chopsticks and wish me luck.

  2. 2 Zen
    January 8, 2009 at 2:48 am

    Growing up in Philly, we had Uncle Ben’s and Minute rice ( both suck). They made an ok rice pudding and a hot breakfast with butter and sugar. But I never had real rice until I live in Hawaii. once there I got hook on “real” rice and never looked back. The difference is like Dominos pizza( cardboard) and Round table ( oishi), or a real Philly Cheese steak ( Jim’s in West Philly) and the poor imitations they serve elsewhere.

    Nato, once you get past the smell is really ok to eat ( with spicy Mustard and green onions ). But I’m weird anyway. The best is the whole beans not the chopped. Goya is the bomb! 🙂

    and thanks for listing my blog site!

    • January 8, 2009 at 11:27 am

      Hey Zen, thanks again for the shout! and you’re welcome

      Why should u eat something where you have to bury the taste? Like drinking medicine with chocolate milk…(-;
      and Goya is a bomb 8-;


  3. January 8, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Good Luck! I’m sure you’ll be fine…I hope you like curry (-:


  4. 5 Zen
    January 8, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Hehehe, I took some magic mushrooms with chocolate milk to hide the taste…back in the day that is 😉

    Anyway the mustard & onions are to add to the taste not hide it.

  5. 6 Jack
    January 11, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    I’m pretty sure that the Koshi Hikari at Mitsuwa is from California

  6. 8 Aka Gaijin
    January 12, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    I burned several thousand dollars, and two weeks of vacation on a trip to Japan in 2007. When I returned to the states, I decided that I had to find a restaurant that served Japanese curry. After looking high and low, I was only able to find two places around DC. …and both used that 100 yen store crap.

    That was a tough six months before I moved here. Now, I’m happy as a pig in poop. (^_^) Not sure what I’ll do if my contract ever ends.

  7. 10 jturningpin
    January 14, 2009 at 7:54 am

    I’m with you on the ramen, Loco. Eating restaurant ramen here was the shock of a lifetime, and I am hooked. (Miso all the way for me, BTW.)

    And I’ll admit it — I like natto! Absolutely hated the stuff at first, but I spent a week’s vacation in a hotel where they served the stuff every morning, and by day four or so I’d gotten to actually look forward to it. The package smells like the devil when you’re done eating it though…

  8. 12 Luke
    January 16, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Last night my girlfriend had natto on her pasta in a Italian restaurant.
    I had tried it before and I remember how much I hated it so I tried it again last night…..
    FUCK! that’s some intense shit.

    • January 16, 2009 at 10:35 am

      To put it mildly …LMAO!
      Is your girlfriend Japanese?
      I guess every culture has some weird foodstuff, something another culture would trip over. Some Black folks (not me) eat pig intestines (called chitterlings)…they actually smell like a pig’s endtrails left out in the summer heat for two days. Natto’s smell is much less…well actually their comparable LOL.
      Thanks for the shout Luke san :-:


  9. 14 ItAintEazy
    January 19, 2009 at 3:47 am

    I swear, natto is what they invented because they got so tired of rice.

  10. 16 leon
    July 21, 2009 at 4:02 am

    and you forget the oden… I never got a chance (or spotted for that matter) an oden stand (well didn’t get to spend winter either) anyways, I am speaking of the konbini type. Not bad, and with a varying assortment of pieces to choose from… and what better to finish with a nice cupfull of heartfilling soup. yet my top favorite is tako-wasabi xD

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