On Saturday I returned from an adventurous trip to Japan. We were continuously on the move and managed to cover six different areas of Japan over fourteen days. I was hoping to write a blog last week for my weekly blog entry but obviously that didn’t happen. The days were jammed packed and by the time I was back to the hotel, we were asleep.
I have thought a lot about how to do this blog entry because there is a lot to cover. This being a blog about losing my stomach, I decided that I will focus on the dining experience. Unfortunately, this was probably the least memorable part of the trip but also the most adventurous. Before I left for the trip, I was really excited to eat tonnes of Japanese food while I was away and put on some more pounds. I now realize that this was not the most accurate assumption as majority of the Japanese people are thin. I only saw one obese person during the whole trip and that isn’t a lie.
During the first few two days of the trip, I started to worry about what we were going to eat for the following week and a half. Due to the Jet Lag (13 hour time difference ahead), I did not have much of an appetite. That combined with the different cuisine, did not make a great combination. As the trip progressed, we all became better at finding foods that we enjoyed eating but to be completely honest, the beginning of the trip was rough.
I realize that Japanese food here is NOT Japanese food. The flavouring in Japan is completely different than western flavouring. There is also this Japanese mayonnaise that is on about 70% of the food. I am not picky on foods but mayonnaise is something that I try to avoid as it often makes me feel ill. So this didn’t help, although near the end of the trip, I figured out how to say no mayonnaise which was helpful. Here are some pictures of what we were up against during the first few days.
Japanese Pizza – Seaweed, Japanese Mayo, and green peppers or green onions?
From left to right – Cold pickled Octopus, soft tofu, something else pickled
Noodles, scrambled egg, green onions, raw egg with fondue cheese on top all on a hot plate
Also, majority of the Japanese restaurants display what they serve using plastic models of the food in the restaurant window. The models did not do the food any justice on our opinions. Finally, majority of the menus are not in English, so you are left to look at pictures and try to interpret what the restaurant has to offer.
Plastic food on display in front of restaurants
We all started to worry that we were going to starve in Japan. Haha. I believe the turning point came on the third day when we discovered that there are these bakeries located underground near all the train stations. They were filled with fresh baked goods consisting of pastries filled with a variety of items. Some were sweet and some were savory. I could not have been more happy to find some food that was easy to find and easy on the stomach. This was also the day we discovered that there was a small grocery store below our hotel and it had some fresh produce (bananas, apples). Here’s some pictures of some goods that I was able to pick up at various bakeries throughout the trip.
One of the many bakeries we visited
Pizza and a hashbrown
Green tea bun
Close up of the description – some of the bakeries did not have English explanations though
The reason we went to Japan was for our friend’s wedding. The meal there was a combination of western and eastern food. It was a large meal and I knew we were up against something when I saw the place setting.
We had an eight course meal at the wedding and I was only able to eat about half of it. Because I had not been eating much during the first portion of the trip, my stomach size probably shrunk and I couldn’t consume as much. Here are some pictures of some of the courses.
First course – salad with chicken
Second course – mystery square
Third course – crab bisque with a pastry on top (I already broke it before I took the photo)
Fourth Course – Lobster
Fifth course – Grilled Salmon
Sixth course was a small bowl of lemon sorbet to cleanse the palate. We thought we were done and then this showed up as the seventh course. I was too full to eat at this point but my friends say it was the best steak they had ever eaten
Eighth course – Dessert – creme brule and wedding cake
After eighth course – Sushi!! Prepared by the chef.
If this wasn’t enough food. After the wedding we went to the second wedding party. In Japan, the weddings end fairly early and there are after parties. At this party guess what – in case you were still hungry, more food!
Salad with Bacon on top
Chicken and fries. Which we were convinced were McDonald’s Fries.
The day after the wedding. We were treated to a night at a traditional Japanese hotel – Ryokan. It was a hot springs resort and it was awesome. The dinner on the other hand was traditional Japanese food and a lot of it was a mystery to me. I didn’t feel as bad though because my friend’s new Japanese wife also did not know what some of it was. Not to mention it was a twelve course meal. I gave up after the third course and stopped taking pictures. But here is a sample of what we were served.
First Course – notice the baby shrimp on the salad. I couldn’t eat them because they were looking at me. But I ate everything else minus the octopus.
Second course – I was excited for the sashimi but the first one I ate (top right corner) was so chewy it put me off of the rest of it. I felt bad wasting it.
Third course – Miso soup. I really enjoy miso soup and ate most of this. Minus the tofu which my friend explained as as wet booger.
I think out of all the things we ate over the course of the trip, my favourite was the Yakiniku. Basically, you order a plate of raw vegetables and meat and you grill it on your own personalized grill which is built into the table. It was really tasty and filling.
Finally, there is always room for ice cream. I definitely made up for some lost calories through frozen treats.
Green tea soft serve
The box on top is a waffle filled with ice cream that you can get out of the local vending machines
Ice cream waffle! All just for 150 yen (about $1.50 Canadian)
McFlurry! It was tough ordering this on in Japanese but I learned that it’s called a Flurry in Japan. Notice the portion size. Cost 230 yen ($2.30 CAD)
More green tea soft serve – this one had corn flakes on the bottom for an extra crunch. The Hello Kitty on the side is a Hello Kitty Pancake
One thing I can’t forget to mention is the abundance of vending machines in Japan. The majority of them have beverages – hot and cold – in them. Some have ice cream and others cigarettes. They are everywhere and you can find them in the most remote places – like in the middle of the country on a non busy street. You can be sure that you will never go thirsty in Japan. The beverages range from 110 yen to 150 yen ($1.10 – 1.70 CAD) depending on where the machine is located.
Vending Machines in Japan
Anyhow, that is just a small sampling of what we encountered in Japan. Once I get over this Jet Lag, I may make more posts about the actual trip which was amazing and wonderful. I would return in a heart beat. You could write a whole blog just based around Japan. I just want to re-iterate though, that the food in Japan was just a small portion of my trip and also the hardest part for me. I lost about 4 lbs during the trip so now it’s time to try put it back on. Yahoo!!