Japan = Ramen!

Posted by on Nov 12, 2010 in Itadakimasu Japan! | 2 comments

Hey dearies. I know, I know. Where have I been? Let’s just say that a combination of school, SATs, and prep school has led to my disappearance from this blog for quite a while. But now that testing is over (thank goodness), I can happily look forward to the long, arduous (SAT word!) college process! Yay! Well, on a happier note, let’s revisit this delicious traditional style ramen shop that my sister and I went to on our last day in Japan. Not only was it my first taste of real ramen made in Japan, but it was also one of the best meals we had there, if not the most satisfying. Now, this little shop was located in a small outlet, only ten minutes away from the Sapporo airport. We walked into the ramen area, which was composed of around five or so ramen shops clustered together. The first thing we saw was this huge poster practically screaming the menu: Then we saw this and this: Wow. They sure know how to advertise don’t they? See all the signatures of famous people that were displayed? It sure gives it a sense of excitement. So out of all the ramen shops there, this one seemed to be the most popular…well it had the longest lines and the most trophies at least. And I really enjoyed the Japanese feeling it gave off…small wooden tables, a long counter, and plenty of chefs making noodles…. But lets get on to the actual food shall we?  I ordered the #1  most popular  bowl, which was the miso ramen with pork and eggs. I mean, if you’re visiting a shop, you have to try the #1 selection right? And boy did I make the right decision. Here it came in all its steaming glory: They say you must eat ramen in three simple steps: 1) You smell. 2) You drink. 3) You taste. I smelled. It smelled amazingly mouthwatering. The miso, pork, and egg combination hit my nostrils and made my stomach grumble. In fact, my stomach’s grumbling now just from thinking about it. I drank. Yum yum yum. The soup was much more salty than what I was used to, but in exchange, the flavor was intense and meaty. Did I mention that the Japanese like their ramen extremely salty? Even though we asked the waitress to thin out our soup, it was still pretty salty to me. But this was a-ok, and easily remedied by a large pitcher of water. I felt that the salty soup was actually a plus, as the flavor permeated the noodles too. I tasted. The noodles were extremely chewy and springy. The texture was extremely different from the plain, limpy noodles you get with instant ramen. These noodles were hand made by the ramen chefs everyday, and you could tell that they pounded and stretched the dough a lot to get the texture. All in all, they were some pretty darn good noodles. And let me just mention the side additions. The eggs included weren’t regular eggs, but rather miso eggs, and wow were they good. Even though the yolk still looks raw, the egg is actually cooked through, but is still soft and eggy in the middle. The pork was also tender and flavorful. I was completely full, and completely satisfied and content. And if anyone was wondering what the rest of my family had: This was the #2 most popular bowl. Pretty much the same as #1 except with the addition of corn, and extra seaweed, eggs, and pork. I tried some, not bad at...

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Highlights of Japan

Posted by on Sep 25, 2010 in Itadakimasu Japan! | 2 comments

Upon arriving in Japan, our tour guide (otherwise known as Soy sauce) quickly briefed us on some of Hokkaido’s famous eats. Here were the main points: dairy products, ICE CREAM, lavender (ice cream that is), corn, honeydew, pumpkin, and natto. Great. I quickly memorized this list and made it my quest to eat all of them during the trip. And……….I did. =] Since my sis already posted about the wonderful ice cream (go check it out), I will elaborate on the other dairy delicacies we had. Cream puffs. Oh. my. goodness. I thought American cream puffs were good, but I was wrong. Compared to these babies, they are nothing. Feast your eyes: Now that is one huuuge puff. I call it, The Queen. The puff itself was crispy on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inner side. The top was dusted with powdered sugar, which added a light sweetness that helped balance the heavy creamy goodness inside. And they definitely were not cheap on the cream. Flavored with lavender, it had a light herbal-y flavor mixed with the strong milk taste. The cream was very thick, and not watery at all. I originally thought it was pretty expensive at a few 100 Yen per puff, but for this? Delicious. Now this is what I describe as a sort of doughnut cream puff hybrid. Soysauce treated the group to these Milano Chou cream puffs, which are “all the rage” in Japan right now. Or at least in Hokkaido anyway. And I can totally understand why. Freshly made everyday, these have the texture of a soft sugar doughnut, but the taste of cream puffs. Very interesting, and verrrrry good.  The cream of these were completely different from the previous cream puff. The Queen had a light lavender flavor but a heavy creamy texture. These however, tasted like it had a sweet custard filling. In the end, I was sad. Sad because I only had one. Corn. The corn in Hokkaido had a sweetness that only fresh American corn could rival. Not only that, but they were also so huge that I wondered how they got so big without steroids. See that? The color is a lighter yellow than most corn, and is much sweeter. With salt and butter added for taste, it was extremely satisfying. You can tell how big and long it is from the picture. It’ longer than my Dad’s head!!! Tasty. Honeydew. All I can say is that Hokkaido’s honeydew are ginormous, extremely sweet, and so juicy that its like drinking juice at every bite. Plus, the outside skin is very beautiful, with neat little lines criss crossing everywhere. And as a side note, that plate was pretty big. Pumpkin. Although we had pumpkin several times during the trip, I have to say my favorite dish was this awesome fried pumpkin tempura. Cut into thin slices, the Japanese pumpkin is quickly rolled in a thin layer of batter and tossed to fry. The tempura was extremely crunchy and delicious when eaten warm. Although the outside was crispy and salty, the inside was still soft and had the sweet heavy taste of pumpkin. Lastly, natto. Oh boy do I love natto now. Before coming to Japan, my reaction to natto would have been “Meh, it’s okay. Not bad.” But, that was because I had never eaten fresh local Japanese natto before. Mixed thoroughly with the mustard and soy sauce they give, topped over warm rice, and wrapped in crispy seaweed, I wouldn’t mind having natto for breakfast every day! Previously, I’ve only ever had natto by itself,...

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Lavender Bears…no wait, Ice Cream!

Posted by on Sep 25, 2010 in Eating like an Emperor - in Taiwan, Itadakimasu Japan! | 4 comments

During the three hour flight from Taiwan to Japan, my sister and I were excitedly anticipating the landing and impatient to fully immerse ourselves in the experience of Hokkaido. Three hours and a few days later, it soon became apparent that if we weren’t soaking in the hot springs in attempts to become prunes, or busy taming bears and seeing the sights, then we were either sleeping or eating. I know. What complete and utter sloths huh? Well, that’s vacation for you. I’ve received a few requests asking to see more sweets introduced on the blog. So, with that in mind, here’s a look at all the different types of soft ices we sampled. Though I’m usually not a big fan of soft ice, I realized after tasting the creamy milk ice that I may have to change my mind. Or rather, I would, if the soft ice in the States were this good! Creamy in both taste and texture, it made my dad’s rum raisin nothing but a mere backdrop. Compared to the soft ices I’ve had before, this one could almost be categorized as ‘heavy’. The taste of the milk was definitely there, and it was like eating frozen cream that got magically churned into a swirl.   Next would have to be my favorite of the bunch. Lavender ice!…along with my dad’s rebellious honeydew (thus the reason why it’s already half-eaten). My mom’s is the one on the right with the swirl of milk…but as you can see from the picture, we were all so eager to try this out that only my sister remembered to take out the camera in time before it was completely devoured. Lavender seems to be really big in Hokkaido, no doubt due to its beautiful lavender fields and gardens. In fact, it was such a big hit that Taiwan even has it’s own chain of Lavender Cottages…but that’s for another post. The vibrant color of these ices were what caught my eye first. A pretty pastel purple, this would’ve matched my room perfectly. (For those of you who are utterly convinced that purple is my favorite color…it’s second only to red.) I’m not sure how to describe the taste of lavender besides…well, instead of the fragrant smell of relaxing lavender, this danced along your taste buds and tasted as great as the plant smells. Even though this might make lavender sound really delicious right now, I wouldn’t suggest eating the actual plant. Would you just look at that monster? This softee is not only huge but a must-have. With six different flavors and thus six layers stacking on top of a teeny cone, this frozen dessert is as dangerous as it is fun to eat. Just make sure you don’t topple the whole thing. If memory serves me right, the flavors are strawberry, chocolate, honeydew, milk, pineapple, apple from top to bottom. Thanks to my sister and her fastidious journal keeping…I’m pretty sure that’s right. I think? Either way, there’s no doubting that this was an interesting buy and an even more unique combination. Or rather, it seemed that the store literally just put down a swirl of every flavor available. All in all, perhaps not the tastiest mixture of ices but still something to try out just for the sake of saying you did. Our last venture into frozen desserts while in Hokkaido, Japan was actually due to a mistake on my part. Seeing that pastel purple ice, my mind jumped to the lavender ice cream from before and hoped for one last taste before hopping on the plane...

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