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What else, but SUSHI?

By Amber Shupe, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

Coming into Japan, I had no idea what to expect of the food besides that there would be lots of sushi. I was never a frequent eater of Japanese food back home except for Americanized sushi, so I was a little nervous. But as I started eating different meals, I realized that I actually love Japanese food and it was some of the best food I’d ever had. We ate a lot of different kinds of ramen and sushi.

My favorite meal of the entire trip was the sushi we had at the fish market in Tokyo. It was one of the most incredible places I have ever been. It was fantastic and I know I will never forget that meal or that market. It consisted of multiple streets lined with stores selling fresh fish and restaurants full of sushi and colorful window displays. There were street vendors all around selling various kinds of fish and crab. Although we did not try any, it all looked really good. We went into a sushi restaurant that had been recommended to us and we all tried to order some things we knew and some things we didn’t. I ordered shrimp and crab sashimi and squid tempura. The sushi was the freshest I have ever tried and with the little bit of wasabi they put on top, was an absolute burst of flavor and I loved it. Then the squid tempura was something that I saw on the menu and decided to order because I’d never tried it. It was very chewy but to my surprise I liked it a lot. I would definitely eat more of it if I could! I want to come back to Japan as soon as possible and enjoy more of the country and their amazing food!

 

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The best culinary experiences in Japan

By Eleanor Schmidt, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

Dining in Japan was full of many different experiences from randomly pointing at something on a menu in Japanese and not asking any questions, to going to Nobu, a renowned restaurant with locations all over the world and getting to meet the owner and creator.

The best food experience that I had, though, was at a small restaurant in Kyoto called Chao Chao Gyoza. The menu had all different kinds of gyoza and between the table, we probably had one (or even two) of everything. Almost everyone got a meal that consisted of a (mysterious yet good) draft beer, their signature “chao chao gyoza” which was two, long pieces of pork dumpling and I chose to get the shrimp dumplings and pickled cucumber along with it and it was so good I could have eaten another three orders.

Everyone shared everything. We ordered so many more small plates from chicken and mozzarella dumplings, to chocolate filled ones on top of vanilla ice-cream. Our server, Alex, was Japanese but born in Canada so he spoke very good English and really livened up the traditionally quite atmosphere of other local restaurants. The experience was even better because it was shared with new girls that I now consider close friends after bonding over an unforgettable meal and a few drinks.

 

 

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When in Kobe....

When in Kobe, you MUST try Kobe beef.  So that is what we did.  I invited several students and a couple decided it was worth the price to have the experience.  Our tour guide made a reservation at a restaurant serving Kobe beef.  Little did the three of us know, but were invited  to a private dining room with our own chef.. a truly special experience.   So- what is the deal with Kobe beef.  Watch this video to get some details about the history of this type of beef in Japan and how that it is often mislabelled in the United States. 

https://youtu.be/PHHqi9J5uQU

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The Youth Hostel  Breakfast

By Cristina Mulder, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

Breakfast is the best meal of the day. Staying at a hostel in Kyoto, I realized why this is actually true. This breakfast was not your usual eggs, toast and bacon kind of thing. At this place they had rice, curry, potato salad, miso soup, and a wide selection of bread. I tried a little bit of everything. The curry rice and potato salad were actually a great combination. The curry was a little bit spicy, but thankfully I had the potato salad to help me with the spiciness. Then came the miso soup, which came in a small packet, so you had to pour the hot water into your bowl and then put the miso paste in. Finally I ended my breakfast with a slice of peanut butter toast and a nice cup of coffee.

Trying to get lunch after 2pm in Kyoto is almost impossible, but there’s always Lawson’s convenience store. You can get almost anything to eat in this store, from sushi rolls, to hot buns, to fried chicken. I got the spicy tuna roll, a shrimp and vegetable wrap, and some spicy chicken nuggets. The sushi was very good; you could barely tell that it was pre-made and came in a sealed container. The spicy chicken nuggets however, were not as good as Anthony Bourdain made them seem; they were very chewy and did not taste like real chicken at all.  After this quick and inexpensive meal, we walked through the market looking for something sweet. I tried the best donut I have ever had; it was crème brûlée flavored and they made it right in front of us! Dessert was definitely one of the best parts of the trip. 

 

 

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Tips on dining in Japan

By Jonas Pohlmann, Semester at Sea, Spring 017

Deep fried or totally raw? Food in Japan has a lot for different textures and flavors. Tuna belly sush,i for example, has a very tender texture. If it is fresh, it has almost no flavor. The soy sauce and the texture of sushi make it very interesting. At the same time fried crispy shrimps with a sweet sour sauce in fresh grinded sesame appeal to me even more. How can you make things that crispy?

The same goes for sweets. Green tea soft ice with a cookie of cinnamon make a perfect combo. Speaking of combinations, strawberries make good sweets even better. A crepe with cream covered with fresh strawberry and a little bit of chocolate make a game arcade a unreal place of pleasure.

Using your chopsticks efficiently is critically important. The Japanese also use long chopsticks for cooking. I got some for my own from the 100 Yen store (like the US $1.00 Store). Sticking your chopsticks in rice is considered as very impolite as it reminiscent of candles you have for a death ceremony.

Even though you have to keep some basic rules in mind in Japan you are in a perfect place to find some delicious food.  If you know the places the locals just go to you will get the best immersion into the Japanese culture. Especially Osaka, the perfect city for food, amazed me by its big street food scene. All the time I felt like looking for something new to eat and after all rolling to the railway station to get home and some sleep.

Japan is a country with one of the best food I ever ate. When is your turn going?

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Sleepless for the Tokyo Tuna Auction

 

By Abby Coyle, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

The tuna auction at the Fish Market in Tokyo is definitely worth staying up all night for.   The auction starts around 5:30 in the morning most days of the week. However, they only let the first 100 or so people in to witness the action, so people begin lining up around 3:30 or 4 in the morning. On the weekends, many young club-goers attempt to stay awake and go straight from the nightclub to the fish market in hopes of getting in. I had such an experience. 

 After a night out at in Shibuya, my friend and I headed to the fish market around 3:45 in the morning, and we were some of the last few to get admitted inside. After waiting in a small room with the other lucky hundred for what felt like eternity, we were herded inside a huge warehouse around 5:30 a.m. The warehouse was filled with aisles of child-sized frozen fish. We watched as Japanese tuna-buyers used axe-like tools to cut into the tuna and scribble down notes onto pads of paper. After around 20 minutes of the men deciding which tuna was worth their purchase (each tuna goes for somewhere between $10,000 to $40,000 USD!), the auction began. It sounded exactly like what you would expect an American auction to sound like, except in Japanese. Fast-paced and energetic, it was all extremely exciting to watch.

 We were shuffled out of the warehouse when the auction was over, so we  took to the market. By now it was around 7 am and the small shops and stalls lining the streets were just beginning to open. We stumbled upon a small hole in the wall sushi shop and sat down at two counter seats, exhausted.  The menu thankfully had pictures, and we pointed to the Japanese characters that accompanied a picture of tuna sushi with avocado and a couple of rolls.  We watched as the man sliced the fresh raw fish and prepared the food. Without a doubt, it was the best sushi I have ever had in my life. It was so brightly colored and so fresh; it tasted like it had come straight from the sea that morning. We ate our food in pure happiness, knowing that the exhaustion of the following day to come was certainly worth it. 

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A Voyage Through the Nishiki Market

Semester at Sea is not a cruise, it is not a vacation: it is a voyage. And, during each port, I have come across ‘mini voyages’ within, one of those being a two-hour adventure through the Nishiki open food market in Kyoto, Japan. After a long day of touring temples and gardens, I went to the market with friends for a snack. As one can imagine, I got a lot more than a snack.

 The Nishiki Market stretches multiple blocks of the streets of Kyoto, selling everything from tourist samurai headbands to freshly cracked open sea urchins. Wondering through the stalls, there were tables of freshly caught fish and other sea creatures for as little as a dollar. You could also buy a variety of fried delicacies, gourmet snack nuts and crackers, and matcha ice cream. Although I gave the daunting sea urchin as well as some questionable takoyaki octopus dumplings a try, my favorite find was fatty tuna. An older Japanese man sliced off three sashimi-style pieces of tuna and handed it to me with a small cup of soy sauce and a pair of chopsticks. The tuna melted in my mouth; it was so fresh and lacked the fishy taste that I have often come across in restaurants in the U.S..

Something I came to appreciate as I examined each of the stands was the generous amount of samples and encouragement to try new and interesting looking foods. The market was full of traditional Japanese dishes, many of which looked as though they should not be put in your mouth; however, I’m glad I felt bold enough to try a few plates. What’s the strangest food you’ve ever tried?

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