Trip to Japan

Japan: Week 3

Konbanwa! (Yeah it’s already the evening here)

The week is now finishing so it’s time for a post.
I had a lot of yummy stuff this week too and finally got my first “Holly Molly! Just why?” food moment in Japan.

So let’s start from Monday. So I had lunch as always as the lovely restaurant on the side of the campus. This time there were some meet with cabbage and pickled ginger in some sweet broth and as side dishes some blanched veggies and some big sweet beans. Everything was yummy and I was quite surprised by how sweet those beans were.

For dinner I decided to experiment a little bit. I made a marinade from rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce and whisky — why whisky? Hum good question… Why not? =P —  that I used to quickly marinate some butterflied shrimps that I then breaded and cooked in my “oven”. Yeah I say “oven” because I am not sure if it is an oven, it’s like super small — about 5cm on 10cm — so perhaps it’s more a grill than an oven. And since I’m struggling with learning Japanese I did not really know what to press so just pressed random buttons and it somehow worked out ^^’. In the end it wasn’t bad but a little bit too bland so will have to improve that before presenting a real recipe to you.

Tuesday started with a discovery. So on Saturday I bought a cup to be able to have tea at work — I was using a cardboard cup before — and so I took it to work on Tuesday. I made some tea and came back to my desk, looked at the cup and was surprised that it changed the design. So actually it is a Thermocolor cup that changes the design depending of the temperature. So when it’s hot it is as on the picture, when it’s cold all the colors turns black so you just have dark mountains. So it was a cool surprise.

For lunch that day there was Oden. Very yummy and just perfect for that day as it was pretty called outside. It had some fried tofu — I still don’t understand tofu, it’s too bland to me –and egg, some daikon, konjaku,two other things that I don’t know what it is ^^’.

For dinner simply had some of my curry that I made on Sunday.

On Wednesday, we had some visiting student in our lab, so we went to eat with them in a cafeteria on the campus. I had my first (not instant) ramen but was so hungry that I forgot to take a picture >.<
As I was struggling to get motivated to do my fitness of the day — yeah I stated from Monday to do one to one and half hour of fitness every day — I decided to get some snacks on the way home. So After the fitness I finished the curry and had a snack party. So from top left to bottom right:

  • Coca-Cola with ginger flavor. It have a more earthy flavor than normal Cola. It sort of reminds me a Russian soda called “Baykal” and that have a earthy flavor. So not bad but not amazing.
  • Pepperoni pizza flavored chips: This one … JUST WHY? It does not taste like either chips, pizza or pepperoni. I tried three chips and then through the bag out because it’s just not possible. Haaa just writing about it makes me feel bad.
  • Snack maki rolls with 3 rolls with mayo tuna and cucumber and 2 with surimi and salad. Nice snack, really enjoyed it.
  • Thick jerky. I took it to try Jerky once. I love Biltong — it’s sort of South African jerky — so wanted to compare to Jerky. It was not bad but biltong is so much better.
  • Dried squid. This! This is the good stuff. I love it, we have the same in Russian and I just love it with a beer.
  • Spicy jerky: Geez it was spicy, the cola really helped me with this one.

Thursday, back at the restaurant with some delicious Katsu, cabbage salad and beans and seaweed salad. really tasty.

For dinner first did some fish but was still hungry and had some chicken breast that would go bad if I did not cook them so I did an experiment for an idea of recipe I had. I was asked a long time ago by my sister, what a Russian burger would have in it. At that time I just answer joking “Red caviar and black caviar” as in the picture of the “Russian Big Mac“. But I finally got an idea this week after watching some Russian recipes done by a funny guy on Youtube: “Shashlik Burgers”. Shashlik is the russian way of doing barbecue and generally the marinade is quite simple. For example my mom simply marinates chicken in a mix of vinegar, salt and onions. So I thought of a recipe that I will present you later when I try it. But to come back to Thursday, I simply marinated a chicken breast in that simple marinade and cooked it in a pan with the onions from the marinade. I added some mayo and ketchup on the buns and served it like that. Aaaand… It was pretty good. I think my final idea will be pretty awesome =D

I additionally got myself a little Japanese bread that I thought was sweet. So I had it as pudding and NO! Curry filled bread! It was still yummy but I wanted sweet >.<

For the Lunch Seminar of Friday got a take away from the convenience store with a variety of fried stuff. Pretty good.

But for Friday night I got some cool stuff. As a starter, sushi — I really love it, could it it everyday without a problem, except for my wallet — followed by some Karaage, love that too. I had some plum soda with it. After that, beer and dried squid and cheesy crackers. And finally mini donuts and an ice cream waffle. That waffle really reminded me of Russian ice creams, made me ever more happy about that dinner!

On Saturday morning went to do some groceries, took care of the laundry and in the afternoon left to meet up with a teammate for a drink. As I am a little bit tight with money this month, I walked to the meeting point. It was a nice one hour walk through the town of Ibaraki.

We met at Ibaraki-shi station and he showed me around the area. Then we went to a lovely small bar — like for maximum 10 people — and had a few pints of beer and some smoked food. The owner was in a St-Patrick mood wearing an Irish t-shirt and a Leprechaun hat. Then our boss joined us for one more pint and a spicy pizza with smoked fish and egg. Actually it was very tasty.

Then we went to another bar. My boss wanted to go to his favorite bar but it was full so we went to another bar. Again a very small bar but with a very lovely atmosphere and a nice bartender. He even tried to do some Yodel when I told him that I am coming from Switzerland.

We had one more beer with some Japanese cabbage and beef roll. Then we got shoshu. I had brown sugar shoshu and my teammate had rice one. The taste is quite different. And as final dish of the night we had Chicken Sashimi. I know you are like “What the hell?” but in Japan they are extremely strict with food and the quality of chicken is so high that you can have it raw in restaurants. It is not actually raw, it is seared at very high temperature on both side, so it even has a slight burn taste. But it was very yummy.

After that had to walk home for one hour, totally drunk and already getting a massive headache. I somehow managed to do it and even got a Apple-Peach-Mango water on the way. But it was tough. Crashed in my bed until lunch time on Sunday. So on Sunday — today — I was quite hungover so stayed at home in my “Slime” mode. But still had lovely food. For lunch I warmed up some Unagi — caramelized eel. Soooooo good.

And for dinner I made some rice to eat with sashimi =D

And now I am sitting and finishing to write this post and really wonder if I should go get some waffle ice cream at the shop.

See you next week 😉 And have a lovely week.

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Trip to Japan

Japan: Week 2

Hola qué tal?

Second week here already =O. So this week was quite calm except for Tuesday night, but will talk about it later. Most of the days I would go to work and have lunch in that lovely Japanese restaurant that I told you about last week. On Monday it was Katsu — Japanese cutlet — with a fried egg and a salad with that Japanese dressing I love. That dressing is with soy sauce and sesame oil, and some other thing that I would love to know what it is so I could make it myself.

Tuesday was my first time ever having real Japanese Udon — I made my own Udon a few time but never had any in a restaurant. It was served in a pretty simple broth with green onion, a thin slice of sweet fried tofu, a narutomaki piece — and no it’s not a Maki done in reference to the Manga Naruto but a sort of fish cake — and some shredded Kombu seaweed. very lovely. With the Udon dish was a dish of fried rice with soy sauce, carrots, konjaku, shimeji mushrooms and a few pieces of chicken and of fried tofu. I reaaaaaaally loved it so will try to do it at home and share the recipe with you. Finally there were some deep-fried onions and blanched veggies — some bok choy I guess. And as always some pickled veggies, that tasted awesome with the deep-fried onions.

On Wednesday I was sick so no lunch. For Thursday lunch we had some Oden — which is a Japanese pot-au-feu — with a lot of veggies and a dish of what I think was pickled bamboo shouts. Quite interesting.

As I was expecting to have our “Friday lunch seminar” I bought some premade food from the convenience store, but in the end left it for dinner as there wasn’t any seminar that day so we went to that restaurant to have some lovely fish and a quite amazing onion salad. But after that salad, it was probably impossible for me to talk to anybody due to the “onioness” of my breath ^^’.

Now that I finished to summary my lunches during the work days, let’s speak about the dinners. On Monday I simply cooked some chicken with onions and garlic. It really seems to me that chicken is much more flavorful here, I don’t know why.

So on Tuesday evening, my lab organized a very lovely party for the farewell of a member of the lab and my welcome. So we met at a nice restaurant nearby Ibaraki station — the town of Ibaraki, not the prefecture 😛 — for dinner. There were so much different dishes. At first there was some sashimi — tuna, salmon, octopus, yellow-tail and slightly cooked scallops. The octopus has a very weird texture but is very yummy. Then there was a few baby octopus, or perhaps squids I am not sure, that were again a little bit strange but very good too. The next dish was some Oden with spicy sausages, cabbages, some beef and other stuff — I was so impressed at that point that I wasn’t paying to much attention to what was in the dishes, sorry. Ah and I nearly forgot, there was a little bit of potato salad too. Then arrived the most fancy looking dish of the evening: whelk on fire =O. I was not really fond of its taste, it was too bitter for me.

What I really like is that all the dishes are coming one after another and everybody share and take whatever they like. The rest of the dishes were Karaage (Japanese chicken nuggets), fried oysters, some sort of glutenous tofu and finally — I hope I did not forget anything — some rice topped with mini fishes, roe and seaweed. All of these dishes were accompanied by first beer and then a mix of whiskey and sparkling water, which is a little bit strange as I generally drink my whisky on the rocks. To summary: an amazing dinner.

After that some people went home, but a big part of us went to a bar to brink some more. I had some more beer and some Shōchū — if I am not mistaking — which is kind of a “Japanese vodka” as my colleague introduced it to me. It was a very lovely evening. But next morning I wasn’t really fresh — probably due to the mix of alcohol, having a cold and being jet-lagged —  and managed to stay at work for only two hours. But taking that day as rest actually helped me to get over my jet-lag.

The rest of the working week I got dinner from the convenience store. I had some tempura, some other deep-fried stuff (like last week) and some Yakitori. It was all nice 😉

So the week-end! The week end was sort of short as I was waking up at 11:00 but that’s nice. On Saturday I got out of the house right after waking up — I took a shower first but almost right after waking up — and walk again to the “ExpoCity” commercial center. I needed to get an USB key and a cup or a mug for work. Got both and got my groceries at the same time. I finally found flour and butter — YAY! But I was surprised by the high price of cheeses but I guess most of them are imported from Europe or the US. And I was shocked to only find smaaaaaall burger buns. What will happen to my burgers with such small buns >.< For my way back decided to be lazy and took the monorail. Finally spent the rest of the day cleaning and taking care of the laundry. Ah and had sushi for dinner =D

Woke up in a great mood on Sunday: a cooking mood. So directly started doing a big pot of Japanese curry for dinner and then experimented a little bit with the mini burger buns, Japanese mayonnaise and Japanese ketchup. The result baby burgers were actually pretty good so I guess my burgers are safe but small ^^’.

In the afternoon decided to go for a walk. I went through the campus of the Osaka University to reach a nice little park, then walked through the nearby town. I was surprised to see the shops open on Sunday so decided to perhaps get some alcohol in prevision of a burger party at my place. And Happiness: whiskey is pretty cheap in Japan =D. So got myself a bottle and a few other stuff. At the till, I don’t know if I misunderstood the cashier or she forgot to give me a bag, but yeah no bags and I didn’t had any with me. As I was too shy to ask after I just packed my jacket pockets and stacked all the rest to somehow manage everything. “Anyway the house is close” I thought aaaaaand… NO! 25 or 30 minutes of balancing all that stuff while walking to reach home. And you know the best? I arrive finally at home — dying — put everything on the table, and the bow of already squashed sushis fell on the floor >.< Still ate it!

So now I’m seating and writing this post while enjoy a glass of Bourbon. And so “Chin chin” and see you next time 😉

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