We thought we would step out of our comfort zone and go to a real Japanese marketplace near our apartment last night...
Stepping into the store was like entering another country. It wasn't just an American store with Japanese products. Mitsuwa is a Japanese chain store in California that provides one-stop shopping of Japanese groceries and products - mostly to the Japanese community.
Everything was very authentic, and of course, written in Japanese! Some things were translated in English...but most were not.
We had our first bowl of non-store-bought REAL Ramen, which was super flavorful and delicious! It had some interesting ingredients like pickled plum, bamboo shoot, "jelly ear" (aka Kikurage), and cha-shu (spiced pork). Sounds odd, but it tasted so yummy! The restaurant was called Santouka and was apparently the place to be (there was a line the whole time we were there).
The whole market was actually quite busy, which we have heard is the norm. After we ate, we explored the rest of the marketplace, which consisted of a small book store, cafe, and video rental (all videos from Japan).
And you can't walk out of a Japanese market without buying Japanese candy! Which, by the way, we had no idea what we were buying... There is only so much you can ascertain from the packages - like, "I think this is candy" and "It may taste like strawberry or cherry since the package is pink..." but that's about it :)
What we ended up with:
All of them are sweet, except the striped package (which is a James selection, by the way!). He enjoyed them while I wanted to wash my mouth out with soap :) They tasted like I imagine that flaky fish food we use in fish tanks would taste. No more Nori Maki Arare for me!
I ended up with something I can only describe as "cotton candy gum." And I don't mean cotton candy flavored gum. I mean cotton candy (which was Coke flavored, oddly enough) that turned into bubble gum. I'm not kidding, it was the strangest thing that has ever transformed in my mouth! How do the Japanese think of these things?
We didn't want to leave without learning at least one Japanese word, so we asked our cashier how to say "thank you," to which she responded "Arigatou." Which of course reminded me of the song, "Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto" by Styx. When I went to look it up on youtube, I found the Japanese version by a Tokyo band called Polysics, which has a much more entertaining video :)
Ok time to go outside. The weather is 81 F and sunny!
(Ja, mata ne - "Goodbye! / I will see you later!")