Some years ago, I inveited a western visiter in Japan to a udon restaurant. He was not so impressed with udon. Same thing happened when soba, okonomiyaki, takoyaki,etc., he liked Japanese beef and sushi only. Maybe that’not strange for us because Japanese food looks too strange for foreigners, I think.
BUT, i read some news about Marukame Udon in Waikiki, Honolulu in Hawaii. There seems to be always a long line to eat Marukame udon. It's a big surprise for me. Why ...or when did they start to understand udon taste ?? I curiously checked YELP to know how they think about Marukame Udon in Hawaii. Again, too big surprise ! It's on the top of the restaurant list of MOST REVIEWD and HIGH REVIEWED. I doubted that many of the yelpers are Japanese or at least Asians. AGAIN ! I got surprised !!! Most of the yelpers on Marukame Udon are non- Asian people !!!!!!
What happend on Udon ? or What happened on Marukame udon ?
I continued to read some articles...again, it's really suprising to know Marukame Udon is really popular in Moscow, Russia.
I can eat Marukame Udon or any udon in Japan anytime I like. But just for my curiosity, I think I should try Marukame Udon in Waikiki next time I go to Hawaii.
But it's a little stupid idea for me to wait for a long time to eat Marukame Udon......
Tokyo really changed a lot in these 20 years or so. So many restaurants were born and many of them are really good. People know that paying money for good food is worth enough. Restaurants are always among hard competitions with others to survive the gourmet race.
My residential area is a little far from Tokyo. It makes me plan what to eat in my trip to Tokyo. But whenever I plan it, I notice too many good looking restaurants there.
Recently I try to find good places with jazz music. Not many, but there are interesting ones. Touring in Tokyo is really exciting if you are a foodie.
Miyagi prefecture is famous for its oyster in the winter. The closest large city from the oyster ports, Sendai city, started oyster disha again after the tsunami disaster in the Tohoku area of Japan. The oyeter season is already over because it's beginning of Summer time in Japan, but we could enjoy the beautiful taste of oyeters there this year.
It's not yet recovered as the normal time, but actually they started the oyster farming in the bay area of Sendai city.
I think you can more enjoy it next year as it recovers gradually.
Have you ever tried Natto ? If yes, do you like Natto ?
Probably most of the foreigners don't like or hate Natto because it's smelly and sticky. It's true that many of Japanese like Natto. For example, Natto is offered at any Ryokan Inns ( traditioanl Japanese Inn) at breakfast together with raw eggs and Nori seaweeds. Yes, Japanese breakfast used to be very simple although recent ones are more westernized. So you might think all of us Japanese like it, which is not true.
Talking about myself, I can't eat it. I tried some times to overcome my weakness on this food, but never succeeded. After many trials, I already gave up eating Natto. Am I a specail person in Japan on Natto ? No, there are Japaese who don't like it. Especially in the Western Part of Japan like in Osaka, Natto has long been left behind. Recently some seem to eat Natto in Osaka area, but it's not majority of the people yet.
I really don't like Natto although I'm Japanese. But I would like to pick up a good thing from this strange food, Natto. I need to promote Japanese food more ...??
Anyway, Natto is reported by medical reserch groups as a very healthy food. The biggest merit of having Natto is that it can reduce the risk of cerebral thrombosis dramatically. Reports say that a pack of Natto a day can melt the cerebral thrombosis clearly after a week or two. Actually, people having Natto offen has good blood test results comparatively.
I don't like Natto, but I believe this fact. So I take Natto essence pills everyday for my health. Then I don't have to have Natto !
Yesterday I went to Tokyo for my band work.
Whenever I go to Tokyo, I make it a rule to eat a new ramen during my stay. This time, I tried Kyushu Jangara Ramen.
This is a tonkotsu ( pork base broth ) type ramen and its taste was fabulous with only 600 yen for a simple ramen. Kyushu ramen or Hakata ramen are already popular anywhere in Japan but the competition is very hard in Tokyo, which makes many of the ramens in Tokyo really tasty.
Jangara Ramen has some branches in Tokyo like Ginza, Harajuku, Akasaka, Akihabara,and Ikebukuro. I went to the Ikebukuro branch which is located on the top floor of SEIBU department store at Ikebukuro station.
I slightly remember I once tried this Jangara ramen more than 10 years ago in Tokyo. If my memory is correct, the Jangara restaurant was not so popular then. But this time I recognized this ramen is good. Survival game of Tokyo ramen battle is always severe. Jangara ramen successfully servived the ramen wars in Tokyo ans it has fans for its ramen. At my last time trial, I didn't especailly want to come back again. But this time, Jangara ramen taste gave me good motive to explore more about Tokyo ramen market.
I will gladly come back again to Jangara ramen shop.
Sushi or Sashimi is always on sale at any department stores' food floor. Especially on such special holidays like New Years Day, those bento boxes are sold well because many people take rest at home and eat at home rather than dinig out.
I also bought a lot of bento boxes for New Year Holidays and enjoyed small family party. Sushi is beautifully displayed and at this occassion, we often see a party plates ( like photo below). It's packed with various food for party time.
Autually seafood is more popular than meat in Japan as far as watching the bento boxes. What I miss most when I go abroad is the real fresh seafood. Japan is surrounded by ocean with small land space. It's natural for us to have seafood in this situation. Also eating meat was prohibited for a long time up unitl about 100 years ago. We grow with seafood.
Japanese people often arrange foreign style foods into Japanese favorite style. If you first come to Japan, I'm sure you will easily find so many Japanized Western Foods.
For example, Japanese curry dish is apparently imported from Indian Curry Dish, correctly it came by way of UK, and it's already Japanese Curry with different taste and different cooking stuff. But some foreign people like Japanese curry too. I love both Japanese curry and Indian curry, though. Like that, we have so many Japanized imported foods.
Today, my wife and I went to such a Western food restaurant and we had pasta and humberg steak plate. To be honest, we love both dish. But maybe Italian people and German people would not agree that these are real spagetti and humberg steak because the taste is different. Pasta looks a little similar to real dish of Italy as the photo with rightly boiled pasta and beautiful tomato sauce. But humberg steak is totally Japanese style with ginger soysauce taste. Now we find soy sauce at many steak restaurants in USA because soysauce goes well with meat dish, so you might think this humberg steak could taste OK. Yes, its taste is really good ( at least for me ).
Not only these two things, but there also are many Japanese flavored food by idea of Western food. I will try to introduce more.
I can't go a week without curry dish. I love Indian curry and Japanese curry especially, as cooking Indian curry is a really hard job for me, Japanese curry is my home curry all the time. Actually Japanese curry is thought to be an imitation of Indian curry, but the taste of them are really different from each other. Many say Japanese curry has both sweet and hot taste, and rahter sweeter than Indian cury. For me, it's a matter of the taste difference, not a matter of hot or spicy level. Actually Indian Curry often is too sweet for me to taste. I tried some Butter Chicken Curry in NZ, which was too sweet although maybe they are in some ways arranged into local NZ style.
As for Japanese curry, making it at home is not that hard. Curry sauce is sold at any food stores, so we can make curry with it by adding vegitables, meat, and water. Curry sauce has variety of types from sweet ones to hot ones, or standard ones to specially blended ones. I love Java Curry (spicy type) of HOUSE food company. House brand is a kind of sign of high quality curry of Japan. Actually the House curry items are all really good.
Today, I added Katsu or Tonkatsu on the top. Tonkatsu is also a standard Japanese food, which is deep fried pork cutlets. As photo, it's called Katsu Curry in Japan. Katsu and Curry meet very well in the taste balance.
Katsu curry was born about 60 years ago in Japan by a request of a famous baseball player of Japan then. He usually dined at a restaurant called SWISS in Ginza, Tokyo and he asked the chef if he could have curry rice dish with tonkatu on the rice. That was the start of Katsu Curry Dish in Japan. The restaurat, SWISS, is still operating the business in Ginza. The shop is really small with only 10 tables or so, but the atmosphere of the exterior and interior is really nostalgic for me. I also love Swiss restaurant in Ginza, where used to be my repeating lunch place when I was working in Ginza. Still, I sometimes try the Katsu Curry at Swiss when I visit Ginza, Tokyo. Price is slightly higher than casual curry shops in Tokyo, but it's worth visiting. The taste of Katsu Curry is just old day's Japanese Katsu curry. Maybe you can find good Katsu Curry places around in Tokyo, but this place is a kind of remaining memory of Katsu Curry of Japan.
Please see Swiss Homepage if you want to visit !
Making ramen at home is not hard work. Most of the ramen products contain noodle and soup and all we have to do is just cook them as instructed. Today's ramen products have amazing quality. Most of the "supermarket ramen" are really tasty even though we are not trained as ramen chef at home.
Ramen market has been in a really hard competition to win the people's favor. Just one popular item can make the ramen company rich enough because a real hit item reaches more than hundred million bag sales in Japan, which is a really good business.
Consequently, the quality has been always rising up by the hard requests from consumers. To be honest, I didn't like home made ramen at all when I was kid, the taste was really mess.
Today's choice was an iteresting brand ramen, Hope Ken ramen. Hope Ken is a famous and popular ramen shop in Tokyo, there are two branches in Kichijoji and in Sendagaya. I would often go there for filling my hungry stomach at night when I was a student in Tokyo. Hope Ken was popular then, and still it's good but many other new ramen shops recently invades the share of ramen popularity in Tokyo. In my opinion, Hope Ken recently lost its power in ramen market in Tokyo.
But Hope Ken ramen is still in my favorite ramen ranking. I often heard that Hope Ken ramen became a homemade ramen product, and today found it.
Taste is close to the real Hope Ken ramen but I didn't get my favorite flavor of it just as I used to enjoy. If I first tried this ramen without knowing real Hope Ken ramen, I would be pleased with the taste. It's a good tonkotsu ramen just like we have at some real tonkotsu ramen shops. I was not disappointed with the taste quality.
The ramen is about 300yen or 4 US dollars for 2 people amount in a bag.
BTW, the name, Hope Ken meas House of Hope. I'm enjoying ramen of hope ???