I’m still sorting through all of the pictures and items from my trip, so I won’t have a post up with details of what I did until maybe this weekend. In the meantime, I’ve decided to write this post on the foods I tried in Japan and compare them to what we have in Canada. I was in Japan for a month, so I think my experiences there are representative of what you’d normally find and not just some fluke. Hopefully this will help someone prepare for their trip so it’s not so much of a shock.
Before I go into too much detail, I should mention that I do not like fish or salt so I do have a bias. Fortunately though, the Japanese don’t only eat raw fish on rice like some people think. I was actually surprised at how little fish I saw while in Japan. Yes, there are sushi restaurants everywhere, but they have non-fish sushi like shrimp, eel, octopus, egg, etc. Obviously, Japan has Canada beat when it comes to sushi, in both variety and taste.
Another famous Japanese food is ramen, or noodles in soup. I’m sure everyone has had instant noodles before, and I was expecting Japanese ramen to be like that but with some extra stuff thrown in. I was completely wrong. Here’s where my bias comes in; everyone says they put salt on food to add flavour, but I hate salty foods because they don’t taste like anything except salt. Unless you order miso ramen, your soup is going to be supersaturated with salt and MSG. I don’t know of any restaurant back home that makes noodles and soup like this, and I’m glad they don’t. Every time I went out for ramen, I’d need a lot of water afterwards. Another thing about ramen in Japan (or at least the places I visited), is that they barely put any meat in the bowl. You’ll get a few thinly sliced pieces of whatever meat you ordered, but that can easily be finished in one bite. Back home, all the asian restaurants put in tons of meat to keep the customers coming back.
While we’re on the topic, lets talk about meat next. I come from the province of Alberta, and we’re proud of our beef. You can find Grade AAA Alberta beef signs everywhere you go. I know in some other parts of the world, chicken is the meat of choice. In Japan, their main form of meat comes in the form of pork. If you’re muslim or just don’t like pork, you might want to reconsider going to Japan. Pork can be found in almost every restaurant in Japan, and it’s also found in many of their dishes. The most common pork dish is probably katsu-don, which is deep-fried pork cutlets and eggs served on top of rice. It’s a pretty good dish and if you’re in Japan, you should give it a try. What really surprised me though, was Japanese beef (in particular, Kobe beef). Like I said earlier, I come from Alberta and we like to think that our beef is some of the best in the world. I’ve had beef in other countries and it just doesn’t compare to what we have here, so I was skeptical about how good Kobe beef was. After trying it a couple times, I’m convinced that it’s better than Alberta beef (sadly), and worth the exorbatant price tag.
Although I approve of Japanese beef, there are some foods that I found sub-par compared to what I’m used to. The first is eggs. I love eggs, I put them in my dishes whenever I can and I can easily eat half a dozen a day. I should also mention that all the eggs I eat are grown in Canada or the U.S. In Japan, naturally, you have eggs that are grown in Japan. Before this trip, I thought that all chicken eggs were the same, but now I know better. Japanese eggs are disgustingly bland, which I found extrememly surprising considering they like to put eggs on everything like I do. If I were to fry a Japanese egg, I would not enjoy eating it plain. The other thing I didn’t like was Japanese rice, but this is more of a personal thing. I’m ethnically Chinese, and my family eats rice everyday. For over 20 years, I’ve been eating long-grained white rice. In Japan, you’ll be lucky to find any type of rice other than the domestically-produced short grain rice (due to high tariffs on foreign rice), which just feels weird. I don’t think this will be a problem for most people though, unless you’re picky like me.