Food / 食べ物
Despite everyone still wearing down jackets and freezing their asses off, it’s technically spring in Japan. That means food and drinks companies are in overdrive promoting products that look ‘sunny.’ I don’t generally drink soft drinks but I couldn’t resist trying this Strawberry & Cream flavoured Fanta. I’m sure the fruit content of this bad boy is debatable, but at least it keeps the chemical companies in business. (It tastes like a melted down version of those strawberry & cream boiled sweets you used to get as a kid.)
Saying that, there was an unusually warm day a few weeks back that allowed my friend Cate and I to sit in Shinjuku gyoen and have an impromptu picnic. 99.9% of the time the bentos you buy at the convenience stores here are crap, but if you go down into the food hall of a fancy department store such as ISETAN you can get some really beaut stuff. (On a side note, seeing the food halls of these stores is an attraction in itself, you’ll never see more beautifully presented food in all your life.) This bento was 900yen / £5.
Actually, most lunches in Japan cost between 900-1100 yen (£5-£6). It’s somewhat of a myth that this country is expensive to live in – some things certainly break the bank (apartment moving-in costs; concert tickets; fresh vegetables) but if you want to eat out it’s so much cheaper than the UK. The quality is so much better too. This is a small place called Tunnel Kitchen on my street in Shimokitazawa: 800yen for a set that includes rice, miso soup, two side dishes and a main. They only cook one thing every day so you get what you’re given. Under £5 for a full homecooked meal – and you literally eat it in the kitchen where it was cooked. (Four seats. Bento is even cheaper: 600yen.)
Continuing on with the strawberry theme here is a strawberry and custard sandwich. Would you like to try it?
Finally, here is the aftermath from last night. I went out to an izakaya with 12 girls from work and we all squeezed round one sunken table. Nomihodai (all you can drink) for two hours was 1,400yen (£8). Food in izakayas can range from greasy junk food to upscale Japanese cuisine: this one was higher end of the market with good sashimi and yakitori. Before eating, Japanese people say “itadakimasu,” a polite phrase meaning “I receive this food.” After eating, people once again express their thanks for the meal by saying “gochiso sama deshita,” which literally means “it was quite a feast.” And a feast it was.