Warning: Do not read this post on an empty stomach. You will get hungry. I repeat! YOU WILL GET HUNGRY!
Have you grabbed a quick bite to eat? Yes? Good. Then allow me to continue.
I realize that I’ve been in Japan for the past 3 months and have yet to write about the one thing that I encounter every day, food. Since I have been in Japan, I’ve noticed some major similarities and differences between Japan cuisine and American cuisine. So, let’s dig in, shall we? いただきます！(which means “I will humbly receive” and is said before eating a meal).
There’s one thing that I’ve always admired about Japanese cuisine, and that is the amount of dedication that goes into each dish. From preparation to presentation, even making something as small as a sushi makes me love the cuisine every time I eat. For example, my friend, Tomomi was kind enough to invite me into her home for dinner and I was amazed at what she prepared. Tomomi is 25 years old and in addition to salad, dim sum, and yakitori, one of the dishes she made was called 江戸前握りor “Edomae nigiri zushi,” which looks similar to what I see in the grocery stores here, but it tasted so much better. Maybe it was because it was eaten shortly after made, nevertheless, I thank her so much for the food and the work she put into making it. ごちそうさまでした！(which means “Thank you for the meal” thus is said after eating.)
Even in Japan, there are restaurants that serve their take on foreign cuisine. For instance, I went to Fresca in Akihabara and was treated to Hamburger Steak (ハンバーグ), which came with salad, potato salad, spaghetti, shrimp tempura, and of course, rice. There’s a popular restaurant by TUJ that specializes in kebabs and a Chinese restaurant next to the nearby 7-Eleven. There are also Mexican, Indian, and Korean restaurants all over Tokyo. Just like in the US, Japan manages to incorporate the tastes of different countries without customers having to travel there.
No meal is complete without a little dessert. I’ve come to like cream yaki since being here and winter has deepened this liking. During cold nights, on my way home, I sometimes buy a cream yaki from my favorite vendor. It’s so warm and fluffy that it hits the spot. Speaking of fluffy desserts, while in the US, I tend to favor a nice, thick slice of strawberry cheesecake or a rich double fudge brownie, Japan takes a more light and airy approach to their desserts. For instance, two other students and I went to Harajuku and we bought crepes. As soon as I saw a strawberry cheesecake crepe, I thought “Oooooh, I can have thick cheesecake in a crepe? Yes please!.” To my surprise, the “cheesecake” had the consistency of flan rather than the cheesecake I knew, but it was still good. Crepes, tarts, cream yaki, Japanese desserts have the same amount work put into them as meals and they look just as perfect so you don’t want to eat them, but eat them you must! Nom nom nom…
All this talk of food makes me want to get in the kitchen, go crazy, and make everything I possibly can!