I apologize in advance, anybody who looks at this post is probably going to become very hungry!
During my first week here, I decided to go buy breakfast at the Lawson’s across the street from the hotel. Lawson’s is a convenience store chain (コンビニ）that can be found all over Japan. Convenience stores in Japan are very different than ones in the U.S. In short, they have much higher standards, and the people who work there take their job very seriously. The ready-made things they carry are really yummy and healthy compared to what you can get at an American convenience store. I asked my buddy, Yuka, about her opinions concerning convenience stores, and she said Lawson’s has the best bread products. It’s true! I’ve been buying lots of small breads and pastry snacks from Lawson’s, and they never fail to impress. Take for example this strawberry pancake snack:
Is that not the most adorable packaging ever? Everything is so cute here that it’s almost hard to open the plastic to eat what’s inside. Before I opened this, I didn’t read the packaging too carefully, so when I bit into it I was surprised to find that it had strawberry jam inside! Seriously yummy. I’ve had a few other varieties of this same pancake snack.
I’ve probably eaten this Lawson’s melon bread (メロンパン）about 6 times already, and I haven’t even been here two weeks. This thing is DELICIOUS. The green color may throw you off, but it’s green because it tastes exactly like a sweet, green melon. There are little pieces of melon in the middle. I’m crazy about Japanese melon-flavored things, so this thing really hits the spot in the morning.
I’ve also tried a variety of Rice Balls (おにぎり). I usually don’t bother to really read the packaging, but I want to try all of the different kinds, so it’s always a surprise when I open it and find out how it smells and tastes. Haven’t been disappointed once, not yet at least!
For the past few days I’ve been eating breakfast at the hotel, though. It’s cheap (buffet-style for 500円), and has a good variety of things, so it’s hard to pass up, especially when I’m exhausted and don’t want to leave the hotel yet. I’ve become very fond of the Japanese-style breakfast rather than what I’m used to at home (cold cereal and a banana). It’s very satisfying to have a warm bowl of miso soup, steamed rice and Japanese-style eggs (they come in little rectangles), while my brain slowly wakes up in the morning. There is a TV in the breakfast area so I can also refresh my Japanese listening to the morning news and weather forecast.
For lunch I eat at the school cafeteria every day. It’s super cheap (I think the most expensive thing is 450円), and I like a lot of the things they offer. You can buy a ticket for a variety of noodle dishes (like ramen, soba or udon) at the vending machine, and they also offer curry dishes as well as bento boxes. I don’t usually take photos of my lunch, so this section is a bit lacking, sorry!
Most days after school I end up going to a cafe with my buddy and some friends to work on our homework and practice for our dialogue presentations, so I’ve experienced a variety of Japanese cafe drinks and little munches. This is a mango juice I ordered at a cafe over the weekend. It was expensive but it was probably the yummiest mango drink I’ve ever had. I’ve also tried things called Green Tea Soda, Royal Milk Tea, and a “short” sized Starbucks drink (in Japan, there is a size smaller than Tall, it’s tiny!!), among other things.
I LOVE Japanese food, so I’ve been trying my best to avoid the temptation of eating boring “American” things or going to any nearby Italian restaurants, in favor of trying as much authentic Japanese food at humanly possible. I’ve gone to a variety of places, usually with a big group of friends.
This is Gyudon (牛丼）from a nearby donburi shop. Donburi is a meat (or something) served over a bowl of rice, in this case beef. This shop specialized in beef, and the meat was very slowly cooked and delicate. Super delicious!
Takoyaki: little balls of bread and vegetables with a piece of octopus in the middle. You can get a variety of toppings, but I went for the classic savory sauce. This doesn’t look like much, but I was full after only 3 out of the 6 piece-set I bought (and 6-piece is the smallest size!). At this shop you get to watch the workers making the takoyaki balls right in front of you, which is really amazing. They use long toothpicks to spin the balls around so they cook evenly, it’s seriously delicate handiwork!
This is a Beef Curry Kishimen dish. Kishimen is a flat, thick type of noodle, which, in the words of my buddy, “is the sibling of udon” (うどんの兄弟). A very accurate description! This set was seriously delicious. I am not a fan of super-spicy things, and I really like Japanese-style curry because it is usually mild and sometimes even a bit sweet.
This was actually at a “Chinese” restaurant, although they didn’t have anything on the menu that even slightly resembled Chinese food. This is Tonkotsu Ramen, which is ramen with pork pieces and pork broth. I also ordered an extra topping of eggs because I have come to really love this type of hard-boiled egg with a soft middle (what are they even called?) that noodle shops often put on top of dishes. I’ve definitely come to appreciate ramen since I’ve arrived here. My image of ramen has always been the instant kind, and it’s really awesome to eat at authentic ramen shops!
This is probably my favorite thing I have eaten so far. I’ve been a fan of Oyakodonburi (親子丼) for a long time, and I even make it for dinner while I’m at CMU sometimes, but nothing can compare to how yummy this was! Oyakodonburi is chicken, egg and vegetables over rice. The character for “oya” means parent, and the character for “ko” means child. Since there is both chicken and egg in this dish, it has a very clever name!
Obviously I have eaten and drank a lot more than what is pictured here in this post, but sometimes I don’t have my camera with me and can’t get a good photo. Luckily I still have 7 more weeks to eat lots of great food and share more photos and experiences with you!
I’m sorry I haven’t been posting much. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to keep my promise about posting often. The amount of homework I have is really overwhelming on some days. Things seem to be settling down, now, though, so I hope to write more frequently soon. I’ve definitely gotten more into the swing of things.