Foodie

Published on October 22nd, 2015 | by gatsbyadmin

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Amazing + Cheap = Food in Japan

Japan is an amazing place for many reasons. But the food is one reason you will hear from any American who has taken the time to venture across the sea. In part, this echo is due to the fact that Japanese food is so frequently imitated here in the United States. In larger part, people say it because the food is freaking amazing. Restaurants in Japan often specialize in a single type of dish. This narrow focus produces some culinary brilliance.

 

First there is the ramen.

 

Now for those of you – like me – who ate a little too much cheap ramen as a child, there may be a psychological barrier to trying the real thing. Let your guard down. Strides have been made on the home front and the greater Denver area boasts a few strong Ramen places. If you’re in Nippon, look for a “The Ramen Shop” location and revolutionize your notion of kinky yellow noodles and thin-sliced pork for as low as US$5.

 

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While ramen may reign supreme in America, it has competition in Japan. Enter: udon.

Even cheaper than ramen is the assortment of udon bowls. Udon is a thicker noodle, often made in-house, where slurping sounds are strongly encouraged. Udon noodles float in a lighter broth and the possibilities are endless. Throw a soft-boiled egg in there. Add beef. Add strips of nori (seaweed). The one pictured here has a giant plum in it. Udon orders generally include a selection of sides like tempura pumpkin, dumplings, and rice-bowls with chicken or vegetables. It’s hard to know if you should be shocked at how fast the locals eat these mini-feasts … or why it’s taking you so long.

 

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There is a saying in the land of the rising sun that celebrates local food: “country grows, country eats.” Frequently you will find this slogan in yakitori restaurants, where local chicken is all they offer.

 

Yakitori is a skewer of grilled chicken. But it’s so much more than that. Maybe you want chicken breast. Maybe you want chicken thighs (amazing). Maybe you want chicken hearts. Maybe you want eggplant on there, or onions. Maybe you want to use the local hot spice sprinkle, or the house sauce. Obviously I am ordering French fries on the side, which goes all too well with quasi-BBQ. They even serve meaty wishbones, so think up some wishes before you eat your fill for twenty bucks.

 

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Last but not least, the sushi is so pervasive and fantastic, you almost stop appreciating it. Almost.

 

Of course, there are the hidden haunts and flashy sushi bars. For an American, however, you won’t find disappointment no matter where you eat sushi. Found everywhere and open late, “train” sushi bars (with conveyor belts and electronic ordering) sling nigiri and rolls fresh out of the sea. Not only is the selection and quality of chains like “Sushi Ro” competitive with high-dollar sushi restaurants in America, everything costs $1. That’s correct: nearly every item on the menu costs one dollar. You can get toro (fatty tuna, a rarely found delicacy in the USA) for a dollar. You get unagi and its saltwater friend anago for one dollar. Fresh octopus? That’s a dollar. Any kind of salmon you’ve heard of? Dollar. They have bacon and duck sushi? Yes, and they each cost a dollar. You get the idea. Now get your hungry self to Japan…

 

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Written & photos by: Martin Osborn @o_z.z_y

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