Saturday, September 6, 2014

Japan: What to buy and eat in Japan?

Hi there! This entry will be picture heavy as I have uploaded most of my food and purchases in Japan. Kansai area (Osaka, Kyoto etc) is famous for street food like okonomiyaki, takoyaki, yakitori and many others. I was on a budget so I did not try luxurious food like kaiseiki, kobe beef, wagyu beef, fugu (pufferfish) and many more.

I also did not enter into any discount store like 100 Yen Shop or Daiso coz it is very common at my homeland however you should coz who knows they have more special things that you can't find in our local Daiso. Hence without further a do here are some of the recommended stuff I have eaten and bought in Japan.

Update: I received alot of inquiries regarding where to buy Kracie Popin' Cookin' in Malaysia. Do scroll down and read more to find out where and the price.

Osaka is the birth place for this cuisine so you definitely wouldn't wanna miss out. Okonomiyaki is a savoury pancake that consists of batter, egg, vege and meat/seafood. It is usually topped with otafuku/okonomiyaki sauce, aonori flakes (seaweed), bonito flakes (smoked tuna), mayonnaise and beni shoga (pickled ginger). Okonomiyaki types tend to differ according to region like in Tokyo is smaller than the ones in Kansai.

Yakitori means skewered food. Kushiyaki means grilled skewer which can consist of meat and vegetable. It can also be animal parts like pork belly, beef tongue and chicken liver. We randomly went into a small traditional restaurant in Namba Walk to try one. The skewer was very tasty but I believe one of them is chicken liver which left an awful taste in my mouth.

Chicken Nanban
This dish is fried chicken marinated in vinegar and tartare sauce. We had this at the same place as the yakitori. Chicken nanban is a common dish which you can find outside of Japan easily and you can even make it yourself.

Yakisoba is a variation of okonomiyaki. It literally means fried buckwheat. The noodles are usually fried with slices of meat with vegetables like cabbage, onions, scallions and carrot and flavoured with oyster sauce and soy sauce. It can also be topped with an omelet similar to okonomiyaki.

Zaru Soba
This dish is chilled soba. Sometimes it is served with ice at the bottom. The noodles are made from buckwheat flour and much thinner than udon. It is consumed by dipping into soy based dashi sauce. These pictures were taken in Itami AEON Mall food court where we had dinner almost every weekday. Beside the cold soba is Japanese curry. I was phobia of Japanese curry since I had a bad experience at my homeland because that curry was so sweet its almost like dessert hence when my soba arrived with Japanese curry rice I kinda freaked out but luckily its savoury.

Udon is thick wheat flour noodle often served hot with kakejiru broth consisting soy sauce, dashi stock and mirin. Toppings are such as tempura, aburaage (fried tofu pocket), fish cake, seaweed and spring onion. Udon can also be fried in yakisoba style. Beside the udon is katsudon which is pork rice. Actually I ain't sure if it was beef or pork coz I have forgotten but anyway beef rice is called gyudon. All I know is the meat was sliced very thinly.

Not to be confused with tonkatsu (deep fried pork cutlet), tonkotsu is braised pork ramen. Some nice tonkotsu stalls we tried are the one with the dragon at Dotonbori and Kamakura at Lucua Mall, Osaka Station. Tonkotsu is wheat noodles served in pork bone broth with thin sliced pork, nori (dried seaweed), green onions, kamaboko (fish or seafood cake) and seasoned boiled egg. I love how the yolk of the egg is not hard but runny. When I got back home I immediately learned how to make it. The one at Kamakura is damn tasty and indescribable...okay I wanna cry already coz miss it so much. Why you no open in Malaysia???

Donburi is rice bowl dish that contains meat or seafood and vegetables. There are many variations of donburi. In the picture below we had oyakodon (chicken and egg on rice) and tenshinhan (crabmeat omelet on rice). We simply enter a very typical Japanese restaurant at Gion, Kyoto and was very satisfied with the food. I tell you, any food outlet you randomly enter in Japan also nice one. Idk is it because they use a lot of Ajinomoto?

Fusion dishes
  • Omurice
OMG this is my favourite! Been waiting for so long to try omurice in Japan. Omurice is a yoshoku meaning fusion food because is is influenced by western dish. Rice is usually fried with ketchup, peas, corn, carrot and spam then wrapped in a sheet of fried egg. It is very similar to our nasi pattaya. Normally it is topped with demiglace sauce which is a French rich brown sauce. I really have no idea what ingredients to make the sauce. First time heard about demiglace and omurice was from watching Japanese drama, Lunch no Joō (Lunch Queen).

  • Hamburg Steak
This is another western inspired dish similar to Salisbury steak. It is made from ground pork or beef with chopped onion, egg, breadcrumbs and spices. It is often served with rice and gravy. I saw a fancy all wooden restaurant in Dotonbori, Osaka that serves hamburg and immediately went in because I anticipated this dish like omurice. We ordered 500g each and was super full with no regrets. The steak is very thick and juicy. This is another cuisine that I miss very much.

  • Naporitan
Naporitan is a Japanese pasta dish normally consists of spaghetti, ketchup and vegetables. Obviously it is inspired by the Italian spaghetti. We ate this at Sannomiya Station, Kobe. The last picture is a variation of pesto sauce and shrimp. It's a very normal dish, nothing special and you can easily make it at home. If you want to try something special, you can try mentaiko spaghetti which is cod roe pasta.

Fast Food
  • MOS Burger
This is one of a must try fast food in Japan. It has so much variety of unique burgers including rice burger and the premium takumi burger, the most expensive burger in a fast food chain. MOS is the abbreviation for mountain ocean sun which clearly describes of Japan itself. It has expanded outlets in Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. Personally I feel the meat is twice thicker and juicier than McDonald's but I still prefer Carl's Jr. The down side of Carl's Jr is it is expensive, costs about RM30 the last time I ate.

  •  McDonald's
Though McDonald's is like the world's most common fast food, you definitely should try when going overseas because the menu is different in each country. We tried Ebi burger (shrimp), Teriyaki McBurger and the awesome McBacon. The bacon, egg and meat (chicken/beef) is only available on our 2nd week there and for a limited time. As in 2014 I'm not sure they still have this but I'm sure McDonald's in Japan always offer an awesome menu.

Convenience Store Food
Convenience store is known as konbini in Japan. The most famous one is Lawson because I saw it everywhere I turn. Second would be Family Mart and 7Eleven. Similar to Taiwan and Korea, their convenience store offers a much more variety of food than in Malaysia. You can go crazy just by looking at their onigiri, sushi, bento, sandwich, instant noodles and desserts.

AEON Jusco Food
I know it is just a supermarket but it can drive you crazy too. Their household products like soap, toilet paper, canned food etc. are just normal but when you enter their premade food section you are in heaven. I wish I could bravely take pictures. They have like a whole row each just for sushi, bento, seafood, smoked seafood, marinated seafood and meat and many other stuff. We would spend like 2-3 hours just walking inside and waited for almost 10pm where they would lelong their food. I love the most is the onsen tamago with raw salmon and scallop on rice. You can't find it at our Jusco.

Instant Noodles
I would rate UFO as the best instant noodle I have ever tasted. Why you no come to Malaysia??? UFO is instant yakisoba. I can't really describe how it tastes like because the taste is so complicated that I have never taste before in my life. The soy sauce has a hint of sweetness and the seasoning has a herbal twist to it kinda like bak kut teh flavour but not strong. I ate UFO almost every lunch and every supper. I feel like crying now coz I miss it so much. Besides this, you should try other instant noodles too because Japan never fails to satisfy you with their instant noodles.

This is a definite must buy item in Japan because they have the most unique flavours than any other countries in the world. I heard there is a sakura kitkat only available during spring. The most common ones would be matcha (green tea) and strawberry flavoured. Click this link to see more weird kitkat available in Japan like veggie kitkat and soy sauce kitkat... lmao. Another page that has a list of rare and limited kitkat would be Japanese Kat.

KitKat Pizza was just introduced in 2014. Thanks to hubby's friend who gave this to us. I baked it in the oven for not more than 10 minutes at 120°C. You need to stand by your oven and check occasionally coz I burnt one on my first trial.

Glico and Kracie
Ezaki Glico is a Japanese confectionery company like Nestle that manufactures candy and the most famous product is Pocky which is a chocolate coated biscuit stick. Today it has variety of coatings like almond, strawberry, milk, green tea, honey, banana and many more. It is known as Mikado in Europe so don't be surprised by different name on the packing. 

Kracie on the other hand is subsidiary of Kanebo Ltd which is famous for cosmetics and skincare products. Kracie's foods division covers confectioneries, frozen desserts, functional foods and drink powders. They are famous for manufacturing DIY food that kids or even adults like me enjoy to make. Below are my videos of how to make bento and hamburger. The hamburger and fries really taste like the real thing which is salty and savoury but the bento tasted like gummy bear.

Kracie Popin' Cookin' Bento

Kracie Popin' Cookin' Hamburger

P.S: In Malaysia, specifically in my hometown Penang, you can find Kracie edible sets and my favourite UFO instant noodles at Japanese section in Cold Storage , Gurney Plaza. The Kracie is priced around RM13 per box :)

Desserts in Japan are endless. The desserts we tried are mostly bought from convenience store. Every night we would walk home from dinner and stop by Family Mart to buy instant noodle, finger food and dessert.

Hello Kitty Corner Cafe in Universal Studios Osaka. We bought strawberry and blueberry frozen yogurt.

Churros bought in Universal Studios Osaka.

Dango is a variation of mochi. This was outside of Sagano Bamboo Forest, Kyoto.

Matcha ice-cream at Arashiyama, Kyoto.

Pablo store which sells cheesecake tart at Shinsaibashi, Osaka. The smell can pull you inside even though you are in a hurry coz it did that to me. The texture is like Portuguese egg tart which is very soft and runny in the filling.

Oh my I love this environment the most even though it was very crowded. It was at the foot of Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto. The dish I was having is called kudzukiri. I just found out about the name after watching my favourite YouTube cooking channel.

Other Snacks
I love the most is the first picture which is cheese hotate (grilled scallop with cheese). I really can't find it in Malaysia. All I found was without cheese. The rest were normal chocolate and biscuits mostly green tea flavoured. The most disappointing was Osaka Banana. The banana essence and texture is horrible. I have never eaten Tokyo Banana and everyone was like you have to try Tokyo Banana so I thought Osaka Banana is the closest thing I could find.


Other Food
Other food outlet you can find here are such as Kani Doraku (crab restaurant), octopus stall that serves takoyaki, Zuboraya that serves pufferfish, The Platinum at Lucua, Osaka Station (opposite of Kamakura) that serves I think buffet and many more. The buffet really looked interesting but sadly it was very expensive though we have a lot of time to go there.

Beauty Products
Japan is also famous for beauty products. It is clearly shown in the pure silky complexion of the ladies. Unfortunately I did not buy a lot of beauty products because most can be found in my country and it costs way expensive in Japan after conversion.

No matter where you go do not forget about souvenirs. I don't need to explain about this coz you can find souvenir shops everywhere.

Sanrio Merchandise
Who can forget about Hello Kitty when you are in Japan? Click on the link to locate Sanrio stores.

Pokemon Merchandise
There are two Pokemon center in Japan; one in Tokyo and one in Osaka. You can find lots of plushies here. Too bad I'm not big fan of Pokemon. My favourite Pokemon would be Jigglypuff not coz she is pink but coz she is damn adorable. If you said I have forgotten about Doraemon, there is a Doraemon museum called Fujiko Fujio Museum in Kawasaki.

I saw this at Shinsaibashi area. I believe you can find cosplay store at any shopping district. Besides this shop, the convenience store in Don Quixote Ferris wheel also sells a few cosplay costumes...surprisingly. So if you are hunting for cosplay costume, you can try your luck at big convenience store, supermarket, game stores or even DVD and manga store.

I definitely do not encourage on this but just to show you that Japan is famous for its pornography industry. You can find shops selling this everywhere mostly shops that sells video games and comics or near pachinko (arcade games and slot machines center). I have seen 5 storey high building just selling porn. and yeah hubby was too shy to go in but I doubt that if I'm not beside him.

 Okay see you again on the next entry where I will share with you about my trip to Koh Lipe, Thailand.

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