Sunday, January 31, 2010

10 Favourite Food Memories from Japan - from Shinjuku to Asakusa

Food, food and more food!

7.  The Mother of All Food Halls

Japanese food halls are simply a foodie's paradise - sushi, sashimi, pastry, bread, traditional Japanese sweets, $15000 yen rockmelon (around a measly AU$190), wagyu beef, bento box, okonomiyaki, chocolate, udon, soba, pasta, sandwich and sake just to name a few. I would even live in one if they let me.

One of the standouts to me is Patissieria, a specialty cake store at the basement of Takashimaya in Shinjuku. Rows and rows of impeccably decorated cakes greet shoppers every day, waiting to be picked, packed and golloped. But resisting buying all of them choosing which ones to buy is no easy feat. There are 130 varieties of them!

It's a brilliant idea really. Every day, 13 of the best pastry chefs in town each contribute 10 varieties to Patissieria. So, instead of having to criss-cross around town for these jewels, one only has to mark their number on a list. Yep, just like choosing OZ Lotto numbers when the jackpot hits 30 million. Except that these cakes are guaranteed to provide satisfaction to the eyes and mouth, and better value for money too. Also, watch out for the state-of-the-art cake collision avoidance techniques employed in the packaging.

6. Izakaya Culture

An izakaya, which literally translates to a sit-down sake shop, is like a pub to an Aussie. But instead of soggy wedges and mass-produced chips, small plates of Japanese snacks are served as accompaniments to the drinks of choice. Undoubtedly, the most popular is yakitori or grilled meat on a skewer. There are chicken, pork and beef skewers, and for the more adventurous, liver, tongue and intestine. What a perfect place to eat and drink away the day's worries.

5. Shopping, Eating and Fortune Telling

Nakamise is a 200-metre long street market in Asakusa, extending from entrance gate Kaminarimon to the Sensoji Temple built almost 1400 years ago. Popular to locals and tourists alike, this market sells everything from yukata (summer kimono) to porcelain fortune cats with the unmistakable waving arm. But perhaps more importantly, there are plenty of local traditional snacks to sample such as dorayaki (Japanese red bean cake), agemanju (deep-fried soft cake with red bean filling) and rice crackers.

And once you have eaten your way to the Temple, it's worth paying 100 yen for a fortune telling paper. Mine is numbered 65, and from very hazy memory and even hazier Japanese, my fortune is not too bad. But if you get a bad reading, the custom is to fold the paper into a strip and tie it onto a special rack provided. The theory is to leave the bad fortune behind or have the wind blown it away. Ah, those clever Japanese - sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Thanks for still staying with me. Until next time, sayonara :)

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9 comment(s):

joey@FoodiePop January 31, 2010 at 8:01 AM  

Love, love, love! Great pics and great summary. Especially like the fortune-telling!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella January 31, 2010 at 9:04 PM  

Yes yes and yes! I used to wander around the food halls for hours and hours just drinking it all up. There's nothing quite like a Japanese Depato food hall is there? :P

chocolatesuze February 1, 2010 at 11:44 AM  

my soul is crying at not being able to go to japan and eat so many delicious foods

Y February 1, 2010 at 4:30 PM  

Gorgeous photos! Sigh. A little agonising for me as I absolutely love Japan, and really want to go back for another holiday!

foodwink February 1, 2010 at 10:09 PM  

Hi Joey - Thanks very much. Your lovely comments keep this blog going :)

Hi Lorraine - I couldn't agree with you more :) I just loooove the food basement at Takashimaya Times Square, which features some of the world's best patissiers and chocolatiers.

Hi chocolatesuze - Please don't cry. Great Japanese food is not difficult to find in sydney. But THOSE food halls are another matter ... :)

Hi Y - Thanks very much! But trust me, it's equally agonising for me. I too can't wait to visit Japan again.

Von February 2, 2010 at 8:30 PM  

Yum.....these pictures are so good! I've always wanted to go to Japan!

foodwink February 3, 2010 at 7:28 AM  

Hi Von - thanks so much! Japan is amazing, isn't it?

retrodaze May 30, 2010 at 12:06 PM  

Ooh I miss those food halls. I really wish we had them here in Sydney! (DJs foodhall doesn't count since there is only one and it is half the size)

salmon January 29, 2012 at 3:36 AM  


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