It has been about 1 week since I’ve been back form Japan. In that time, I watched my sister get married, went to the beach, and had a huge catastrophe happen at work, which was largely my fault. I haven’t even had time to be jet-lagged, because there IS no time to be jet-lagged. Needless to say, it has been one hell of a week, and though I’m currently on vacation (at the beach), I REALLY need another vacation…again…even though I just got back.
So, when I was going through the pictures of my last week in Japan, I couldn’t help my yearn for where I was just a short week ago. The food was so amazing, the people were so nice, and I was having such a great time with my friends! Come on a magical reminiscent journey as I go back through the meals of my last week….
Picture this: A cold and rainy girl, well on her way to being drenched, without an umbrella or even a raincoat. Before I left, I knew there would be rain, and I planned on buying an umbrella, but for some reason…I just couldn’t do it. Didn’t want to spend the money. Until this day. We had been visiting the Silver and Gold temples, as well as the rock garden, when all of a sudden it began to pour! Hoping to escape the rain, we stopped in for lunch, at a simple place. I got Gyudon, and never has it been more of a comfort food than in that moment. Gleefully, I swirled my egg into the hot rice and scarfed it down as quickly as I possibly could. The broth was slightly sweet, a little salty, and the raw egg provided such a richness to the dish. I finished this bowl as quickly as I possibly could, and was immensely satisfied. I need to work on my own recipe until it is as good as this one was.
Fried Chicken Omu-Rice
We went to a French-Japanese fusion restaurant! It was so bizarre! But…so delicious? I’m not a fan of eggs, as you probably know, but this was really something else. The rice was garlic, bacon-y rice, encased in a soft egg omelette with friend chicken on top. It was coated in a wonderful demi-glace. There’s not much else I can say- it was delicious and also slightly bizarre. I loved it.
Have you ever wanted to go to an all-you-can-eat desserts restaurant?! Well now you can! Sweets Paradise, an all-you-can-eat dessert restaurant we found in Kyoto. I have no doubt it’s a chain, but essentially you pay about ~$15-$17 to AYCE for about 90 minutes. You pay more for the AYCE ice-cream option, but if that isn’t your thing, then you’re looking at a $15 entry fee. Their sweets selection is amazing- ice creams of every flavor, endless cakes, cotton candy, popcorn, shaved ice, the list goes on…Even better, they serve some salty foods so that you can balance everything nicely. Pastas, curry, soup, pizza. And all of it delicious AND endless! Highly recommend, we stuffed ourselves like the filthy gaijin we were.
Cheesecake ice cream sundae. Something I love about BR overseas is that they have awesome specialty dishes, and ice cream flavors that are unique to Japan and limited edition in America. For example, my #1 favorite ever ice cream from BR, Love Potion #31, is only available in America for February. In Japan? Year round. Amazing.
We grabbed some gyoza on the train ride over to Hiroshima. In Shin-Osaka, in part of the train station, there is this amazing underground food section where you have endless opportunity to eat your little heart out, or grab some delicious ekiben (train bentos). I opted for these delicious gyoza that were $4.50 for 15, and they were phenomenal. Wonderfully seasoned, with a vinegar dipping sauce that left my breath smelling terrible but my stomach feeling sooooo happy.
It was my birthday meal in Hiroshima, and it was amazing! Okonomiyaki is, of course, a specialty in Hiroshima, so we figured that it would be the best thing to try to celebrate. WE got some Highballs, had some great conversation, and ate so much, I had trouble walking home. So, of course, we stopped at Daiso on the way back to shop while our stomachs settled. This place we went to is #1 on TripAdvisor, as of when we went, and it was really tasty and we had a fun show, as the seating lets you see them cooking on the griddles.
Miyajima Island Oysters
Hiroshima is also famous for oysters, so in our quest to see the floating tori gates, we grabbed some oysters while on the island. Grilled, fresh, fried, you name it, we ate it. They were really tasty! Not very fishy tasting, to the disappointment of my best friend, but absolutely HUGE and with a nice meaty, slightly ocean-y flavor. I like them, and I generally am not a fan. It was really fun watching them be cooked as well, since where I’m from in California, I don’t get to see a lot of fresh seafood.
Ok, this is pretty easy to make. Take a block of ice, with strawberries frozen inside. Grind it up. Then, douse it in condensed milk. Et voila, you have this amazing dessert. It was incredibly hot in Miyajima when we visited, so this was so refreshing and tasty. It is simplicity itself, yet the $4 I spent on it was some of the best money I spent on anything that day. It cooled me off long enough to find a river to stick my feet in (which I did with great happiness).
No regrets. Best $60 of my life. Kobe beef has made me realize that all the steak I’ve eaten up until this point in my life has been a lie. Kobe beef is buttery, melty, and just reduces to the most wonderful flavors in your mouth. The restaurant we went to, Wakkoqu, gave us several different dipping sauces to try, along with a full course meal- soup, salad, rice, steak, vegetables, dessert, and tea. This was my birthday present to myself, and I couldn’t have chosen better! If you’re on the fence about this- you have to try it. If you go for lunch sets, as we did, you can get reasonably priced meals, and at least a chance to try the meat. At the place we went to, $30 would get you the 120 grams of meat, vegetables, soup, rice, salad, $50 would get you a 150 grams of a lower grade meat with the full course, and $60 would get you 150 grams of a higher grade meat with the full course. I went for the expensive stuff, but I think that it would be worth the $30 just to try the meat and see for yourself how great it is.
I messed up, guys. I left my passport in our hostel in Hiroshima, and so I had to hop back on the train to get it! It was truly a tragic situation. After Kobe beef, I and one of my travel companions hopped on a bullet train back to Hiroshima, taxied over to the hostel, grabbed some drinks and snacks, taxied back to the station, and trained back to Osaka. This was my first big and terrifying mistake on the trip (I planned everything), and I felt pretty bad about it until I got my passport back. By that time, I was ready to drink. So, drink we did. It’s not illegal to drink in public, so I highly recommend that you give it a go if you get the chance. It’s fun and unique, and especially amazing if you have someone to chat with like I did. My favorite Japanese convenience store drinks: Chu-Hi and basically any fruit drink that has alcohol content.
And that was pretty much it! We returned to Tokyo for a day, visited a bunny cafe, and had sushi again. I had so many great experiences with my friends, and sampled so much good food. I can’t wait to go back! Let me know what your favorite Japanese food is in the comments below, and if you have any plans to visit! I’d love to hear about them 🙂