(I got a better phone with a better camera so my pictures don’t look quite so shit. Like usual, this isn’t everything we ate, but it’s fairly representative.)
Konbinis! Convenience stores in Japan are the second best thing (the best is the vending machines on literally every other block that sell ALL THE DRINKS). You can get trash food, you can get healthy food, you can get a proper meal put together without much effort. Kitchens are small and it’s more typical for people to eat out more often than cooking at home (my s/o’s tendency to pick up Subway on the way home instead of trying to make food at home suddenly makes more sense).
Oh my god I have missed Indian food so much since moving back to Montana. Nabin is a Sri Lankan place with delicious curry and naan and saffron rice and samosas and these little dumplings called “momos” (pictured). Since getting home, I’ve started making curries and rice. So good.
DOMINO’S IN JAPAN. The ingredients are better, the flavor combinations are to suit Japanese tastes (teriyaki chicken, chicken and corn with mayo, pork and roasted garlic) besides also offering more typical flavors (margherita, all meat), the option of 4 sections on a pizza is a standard thing, the pizza is cut into 12 instead of 8 and the pizzas are smaller.
I don’t know the name of the place but it was conveyor sushi! We went to see the new Tomb Raider (English with Japanese subs), then went to this conveyor sushi place so we could say we’d done it. Everyone I tell this story to is some degree of squicked out but I had no problems with any of the raw fish I ate, or any of the water I drank, or anything else. Either I got luck or food-handling standards are more strictly monitored over there (I know which one I bet it is).
In Kawagoe there was a soft serve stand selling sweet potato ice cream: it’s half orange and half purple sweet potato flavor (not that I noticed a difference in flavor, but I’m not super familiar with the flavors of different dessert-style sweet potatoes, so). After we got our ice cream we saw like 5 more of these stands, so it’s a popular thing.
At the rest stop on the way back from the mountains, there were all kinds of little snacky vendors, and a Starbucks, and a couple of proper restaurants where you could get an actual meal. We opted for Starbucks and takoyaki, because I have this compulsion to eat trash. Takoyaki has this weird kind of texture where I wouldn’t order it for myself (because an order there had 8), but if someone was offering it around, I’d have 1.
Aaand speaking of eating trash: GYOZA. I was thoroughly schooled in some cultural aspects I wasn’t aware of, one of which is that gyoza and beer is considered kind of a garbage meal and something salary men have after work before stumbling home. Obviously we went to this amazing gyoza franchise place 3 different times at 2 different locations (both of them close to a train station, because smart real estate placement). I had karaage, and steak fried up with green peppers, and a kind of hot and sour beef sauce with tofu in it (not pictured, because I ate it before thinking to photograph)—this was on 3 separate visits, not all at once, and we always got the “sets” that come with an order of gyoza, rice, soup and pickled veg. Fucking delicious.
Last one: Heartful Bread Bakery. This is a few blocks from my s/o’s parent’s house where we were staying and it’s where all the bread in the house was from. They even had Irish soda bread (but they didn’t know that’s what it was, it was labeled “fruit bread” or something and it was really good with butter on for breakfast). We walked over for breakfast one day before getting on a train and got the most delightful little assortment of things, plus a coffee from the vending machine outside.
I lied. Vending machines. I will miss the vending machines most of all. *single sad tear*