SUSHI, ANIME, CHERRY BLOSSOMS OH MY!

If I could have dinner anywhere in the world where would it be?

Without a question in my mind.  Japan.

Japan seems like a world of mind blowing stimuli.  All things adorable, kawaii, themed restaurants, Nintendo, bento boxes, shiba inu dogs, tea culture, hot springs, anime, robots, gardens, Samurais, and endless street food?  All the things I love in one place?  My brain can’t handle it.  I’m overwhelmed just fantasizing about it.

Tokyo tops Paris with the most Michelin star rated restaurants.  Not that this matter to me, it is a good indicator of what’s happening though.  Japanese food culture has a distinctive style, attention to detail and the freshest ingredients anywhere.  Small dining spots where you sit at the counter right in front of the chef makes dining a very intimate affair.  American dining has us trained to order meals through servers while the chefs are cooped up in the kitchen and rarely get a chance to interact with the people that is enjoying their food.

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The food in Japan is still a great mystery to me.  Yes, I’ve eaten at hundreds of sushi restaurants here in America, I regularly eat at “hole in the wall” ramen joints in Little Tokyo and can fry up a mean ‘tonkatsu’ on the solo.  But eating at the birthplace of it all seems like almost too good to be true.

Heres a quick guide on how to make your own Tonkatsu at home.
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Food:

Street food in Japan seems like a wonderful thing.  Anytime you see an open flame and some meat on skewers you cant help but get excited.

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Street food never looked more chaotic and colorful.  Just point to the ones that look tasty to you.
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My love of soft serve ice cream is undying.  I will go on a wild manhunt to find the place that sells all these soft serve ice cream flavors.  When I find it I will immediately get fifteen cavities and gain a ton of weight.  Its going to be glorious.  There’s really nothing better than soft serve ice cream.  Nothing.
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Wacky Vending Machines:

So, are you thirsty from all that ice cream?  How about an ice cold beer to quench your thirst?  BEER from a vending machine?  What?  So you mean they actually trust people? I’ll take four for the road please.
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Maybe after several vending machine beers the novelty of “hot” vending machine food would appeal to my drunken tastes.
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I couldn’t talk about Japanese vending machines without adding this picture of a giant Hello Kitty vending machine.
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Nature:

Kawachi Fuji Gardens in Kitakyushu, Japan fairy tale flower tunnel. The gardens are home to about 150 Wisteria flowering plants spanning 20 different species.  This place is truly a visual feast for the eyes.
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The cherry blossoms must be quite the site as well.  This is in Sakura.
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The intricacies and attention to detail in the beautiful tradition.
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Sometimes when I’m sitting in my cubicle at my mundane office job I wander off in my head and daydream about travel. I think about wandering the streets of an unknown place and trying food I know nothing about.  Travel is an exciting mystery you try and solve as you go.  Language barrier is an added challenge but we are lucky in this day and age to have translator technology on our phones.
I like to think I have a plan while traveling but usually its a simple rough draft.  Sometimes getting swept up in the momentum of what’s naturally happening is the true way to go.  Sometimes I like to do a little research on the internet before I leave and map things out a bit but sometimes I’ll find myself on sites that don’t use website translation software and are written in other languages and I quickly go to my iphone or web translators.

It’s nice to hope some people speak English (or Hungarian which is highly unlikely unless I’m in Hungary).  Best thing to do look at sign with pictures on them. Easy to understand food imagery helps.  Besides look at how cute this is!
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Just this amount of cuteness brings a tear to me eye, just like that little onion bear on the bottom row.
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Tokyo has unique architecture.  These apartments look like little doll houses!  So beautiful!
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Sleeper pods.  Efficient and semi creepy.
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Unique stores and restaurants.
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How about the creative genius that is Hayao Miyazaki.  There’s a museum in Mitaka dedicated to Studio Ghibli.
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So back to my original question….If I could eat dinner (or breakfast) anywhere in the world where would it be?

Sushi Dai 

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I stand by my dream to have a fine sushi-for-breakfast experience at Sushi Dai, located just steps from the Tsukiji fish market.  Some would ask me why wouldn’t I choose a Michelin rated sushi establishment?  Or why not at a fancy and sleek dinner in the stylish part of Tokyo so I can bust out my top hat and bow tie?  Me?  No.  I stand by my love of “hole in the walls” and street food.  Some of the finest food in the world are the places that are the most unassuming and modest.  Go where the fisherman go.  I respect a modest place with beautifully tasting food.  After all, Its whats inside that counts.  Fish that is cut with a Samurai-like precision and rice that is kissed by the gods themselves.  Omakase menu, which features 10 pieces hand picked by the talented chefs based on seasonality of the fish.  I like the idea of the chefs choosing what they think is the best for you.  The chefs are the composers of this beautiful symphony that is your meal, in this case my breakfast.  Also the best thing about breakfast is that you have two more meals waiting for you over the rainbow.  Fresh fish out of the ocean sure beats your regular breakfast of Cheerios eh?
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Hell yeah it is.  Just look at this sexy monster.

Helpful websites:
http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/en/
http://www.yelp.com/biz/%E5%AF%BF%E5%8F%B8%E5%A4%A7-%E4%B8%AD%E5%A4%AE%E5%8C%BA
https://hungryhungarianblog.com/2014/08/14/lets-bento/

Because I have not traveled to Japan (yet) I found all my photos on the web and I sited where I found them below.
photo credits to:
http://udivitelno.com/plants/item/155-tonnel-glicinij-v-japonskom-sadu-kavati-fudzi
http://inlovewithjapan.tumblr.com/
http://www.kawaiistudyjapan.com/
https://www.pinterest.com/

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THE FAIR IS A VERITABLE SMORGASBORD.

One of my favorite cartoons growing up in the 80’s was the movie Charlotte’s Web. There was a scene where Templeton the rat ravaged the empty fairgrounds at night looking for leftover garbage to eat.  Even as a child I loved animated food, so that scene was super entertaining to me.  Plus, I respected a proper gluttonous rat.
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Going to a County Fair is an American Tradition, like a band of Gypsies the County Fairs roll through each American city leaving behind a trail of grease.  Nothing is more Americana than crazy (questionably safe) rides, crazy (questionably safe) fried food, barn animals and feeling like a barn animal yourself after consuming thousands of calories.  Just take a look at these ridiculous food stands, I love the fact they are giant overwhelming fake food facades.  Only in America.
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Now once you enter the fairgrounds you smell all the delicious BBQ smoke and all the other foods just cooking away.  Then you begin to come to the realization.  I’m going to eat like a pig.  Like a PIG.
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Naturally you’ll start off with a few craft beers with your buddies.  Now remember, the fair is crucial for the buddy system if you want to come out of this food tour alive.  The key is delegating the expensive snack/meal purchases so you don’t overeat and don’t overspend.  I’m a fan of “tapas” style food, I like getting little bites of things.  I’ve never been a big fan of dedicating to just one meal.
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Along your journey you will encounter many temptations.  Now, feel free to indulge your cravings, but keep in mind you have a long way to go.  If you see any sort of “bacon wrapped” or “bacon battered” item, STOP!  The Nike brand would encourage you to ‘Just Do It’.  Besides you’ll  walk a lot, burning tons on calories, yada, yada, yada.
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The bacon wrapped pickles are worth a try.  The bacon is delightfully crunchy (because its deep fried) and the pickles have a crisp wet feel at the end of your bite.  Sounds kinda strange.  Because it is.  But still rather good.
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Now bacon wrapped shrimp?!  Oh my dear swine.  The bacon wrapped shrimp.  It was heavenly.  Super crispy.
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Grilled corn on the cob may be the healthiest option at the fair….well that’s before you lather mayo, Parmesan, chili and other condiments all over it.  It’s totally Mexican street Paleta style.
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(Don’t forget the garlic salt and the Tapatio…an absolute must!)
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The LA County Fair now has various food trucks serving new trendy food options.  A teriyaki ramen burger is all the rage right now.  Not bad, but I’m still not sure what all the fuss is about.
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Now, let me discuss the heavyweight class.  The quintessential ‘MERICA’ FUCK YEA’ food.  The Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger.  This is one you must share with several of your friends.  If this is something you polish off solo…well I’m sure there are ambulances nearby to help resuscitate your poor heart.  But I would recommend at least tasting this once in your life, the sweet and savory go surprisingly well together.  But really, lets call a spade a spade, this beast is a disgusting sticky mess.
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The county fair is nothing without a bunch of sweets to get all the kids hopped up on way too much sugar.  Like these cinnamon and sugar donuts. Mmmm do-nuts.
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If deep fried dough is not your thing.  How about pure unadulterated liquid RED?  Pure sugar straight tapped to the veins.  This snow cone will leave you looking a mess.  Make sure you choose your color wisely because that will be your new tongue and lipstick color for the next few hours.
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Now my favorite dessert.  I’m usually not a big fan of sweets AT ALL.  Well, except for macaroons and soft serve ice cream.  Not regular ice cream.  Soft serve ice cream!  Soft serve is like the down comforter of the desserts.  Soft, smooth and creamy enough to melt into.

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Luckily this event is only once a year because my heart can only handle this insanity but once a year.   This is not the way to live, eating this way will certainly clog your arteries.  Riding the scary makeshift rides that are folded up and built by carnies is probably not the safest thing to do everyday of your life.  But once a year?  Hell yea, I’ll eat like shit and get on the sketchy Ferris wheel to marvel at this stunning view.
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