Today I’m taking a little break from my travel posts to cover one of my favourite topics: food! You guys really seemed to enjoy the weird things I’ve discovered since coming here, but there’s so much more to talk about in terms of the food here in Japan. I may have eaten a lot of weird and wonderful things in my lifetime, but that still wasn’t enough to prepare me for most of the culture shocks I’d experience…
1. Ordering at the sushi train. At least in my area, no one actually picks up sushi off the conveyor belt. Instead, the preferred method is to order the dish and have it made just for you! I’ve been to places where you can do it via a touch screen, write it on a slip of paper or even just call out what you want to the chef. It’s a lot better than sitting and waiting for that salmon sashimi to come around, that’s for sure.
2. Usually, you’ll be served more rice than you know how to deal with. For one, when you order ramen in Japan the fun doesn’t end there. Sometimes tonkotsu varieties are served with rice, which you’re meant to mix and eat with the leftover broth at the end. When I went to Kyoto, I was also surprised to find out that eating rice with okonomiyaki is a thing!
3. Hot food in Japan isn’t really that spicy. The one exception to the rule would have to be this tsukemen I ate at Tetsuya’s, which definitely didn’t hold back on the chilli powder. But apart from that, it’s super hard to find food that’s actually spicy here! Even when I buy store-bought kimchi here it seems to have a sweeter taste, probably to cater to Japanese tastebuds.
4. Eating with large groups is a breeze. Most restaurants here allow you to pay betsu betsu, or basically in separate bills. This is something I seriously wish was more common in Australia! Handling small change is the bane of my existence, and can make a simple meal feel more like I’m in maths class at times.
5. One word: natto. If you’ve never heard of it, natto is a Japanese food that most foreigners (myself included) can’t seem to get their head around. It’s basically fermented soybeans, but if you ask me? It kind of smells like dirty socks and the texture can only be described as snot-like. But for some reason, I’ve never met a Japanese person who doesn’t love it! I guess it’s kind of like a Vegemite situation, where the only people who like it are Australians themselves.
Lately I haven’t actually been eating out much, what with classes starting again and the fact that I want to save a bit of cash. Not to mention it’s getting really cold here at the moment, so venturing outside is kind of the last thing I want to do! Despite having a heater and thermals at the ready, I honestly have no idea how I’m going to survive the coming months. It’s going to be a long winter…