So while out shopping the other day on one of the only times i've been out shopping in weeks, I went into HMV (as I am old fashioned and still actually like to listen to and collect CD's) and when walking round the store, I was surprised to see, in a music and entertainment shop, Japanese food and drink!?
Although a bag of KitKat's with Japanese writing may look quite cool, the price was not compared to the normal at Tesco
Obviously I had to buy a bottle of drink however to have on my shelf at home, for two reasons;
1) Why not! 2) JDM yoo!
So that was HMV, then later on went into 'Gifted' and they had two huge walls of display space taken up with 10x more of this stuff including said bottle of drink, for a whole one pound cheaper than I paid in HMV, gutted!
Joking aside, i know I haven't been out in the shops much this year for obvious reasons, BUT........ is this now a thing!?
The Japanese have a different idea of quality and flavour to western tastes. For the most part I'd say it's a superior idea.
Products will be typically smaller and more expensive but in all ways superior to their western equivalent, and typically far more natural to boot.
More effort given to the mode and pleasure of consumption than the marketing.
They either have their own 'thing' or they take something from another country (like the strawberry in that kitkat, or whisky from scotland) and reinterpret it far better.
Flavours like Melon, Sesame, Green Tea, they're not really western flavours, but they'll add it to a Western thing
Take that soda, it's small, but the taste is absolutely faultless. Western sodas are typically massively sweetened or acidified to make you feel like you got your moneys worth. The japanese equivalent will taste more beautiful and honest.
There's a Melon flavour one from Ramune that's really excellent. Also look out for Melon Milk.
A few other examples from food:
In addition the to Strawberry kitkat.. the Matcha (ultra-refined Green Tea) one is worth a look. It's amazeballs. They're tiny but so intense. They even have different strength grades - super dark or light matcha.. I highly recommend green tea chocolate. And matcha seems to go very well with deserts. It's also extremely healthy.
Bulldog sauce. I like a nice brown sauce such as HP sauce but since we've had bulldog we don't use the HP anymore. My wife won't even let me bring it to the table lol.
Choya Plum Wine. I don't really like sweet spirits but this is so so so so good. A bottle is maybe 30 quid but every sip is spectacular and also the bottles themselves are excellent for making ice tea over summer. The japanese Ume plum is a super sour fruit that Choya seem to get every last ounce of flavour out of. The flavour they can't get out they bottle in anyway because they leave some whole Ume fruit in the bottle. There's a lot of tannin and sourness and enough sweetness to keep it fun. It's far far superior to any Chinese plum wine.
Soy Sauce. The Japanese (and I have to add the Koreans) make way higher grade soy sauce and once you recognise the difference you won't want the cheap stuff.
Korea has the Japanese pipped on Seaweed though. Ignoring the seaweed used for Sushi 'nori', Korean Seaweed 'gim' seems to be more tasty since they season it more. I'd eat the gim every day if I could.
I've been lucky enough to have visted to Japan a couple of times in the past, I think I've had a lot of exposure to that culture though dvds, games and friends at school who had connections over there (one of them moved over there as soon as he finished college lol) but in a different way to how there is this mega obsessed Otaku culture nowadays with all this anime wife pillow sh.it lol so I've seen this kinda of stuff a lot. I love the convenience over there, you can get anything from hot black coffee all the way to booze and edible underwear from the same vending machine .
As Atlex suggests, its their take on western junk food lol. Heres the thing, I changed my diet quite a bit a number of years back for health reasons so I don't really eat any processed western foods anymore, in fact I only really do whole foods in general and as I result I don't do overly sweet food. Most food of that ilk over here (thanks to the Americans) has been crammed full of more and more sweetners, sugars and crap to the point where things are just disgustingly sickly. This is not me being some anti sugar Jamie oliver thing, I personally think that sugar/carbs gets a bad rep in comparison to a lot of other crap, its more of how my taste buds are (no sugar in coffee/tea, high% dark chocolate, the sweetest foods I have in my diet are a small amount of maple syrup and mejool dates ). So, what does this have to do with japanese "sweets", well a lot of them aren't heavily sweetened like Atlex describes so to me they tend to taste amazing! So much so I often make my own mochi, green tea/seasame "ice cream" and use a lot of Japanese ingredients in cooking, I do wish we did more stuff like their melon sweets, then again, that would not help me lol.
I do love the canned coffees they do, even though I'm a bit of a coffee snob you cannot beat the convenience of canned coffee (although I don't do the milky/sweetened coffees they have, only black), I always carry one in the car incase I'm feeling tired on a long drive or need one in the morning. Best thing, as its a can, you just pop it under your bonnet after you park up to warm it
BTW if you're ever feeling flush there's an *outstanding* restaurant in London called Abeno. there's two or three branches but you want the one near the British Museum aka Museum Street.
They do a dish called Okonomi-Yaki and it's well, it's really good. Sort of like an Egg Pizza Pankcake thing, but cooked infront of you on a tepan. allocate 2-3 hours for the meal. Assume 50 quid a head with good drinks. I thoroughly recommend going while it isn't summer, also, because sitting there next to a tepanyaki grill can be a bit warm. Make a day of it with a visit to the BM too since that's fantastic and free.
In addition to the okonomiyaki they have some interesting deserts which can involve coffee jelly and bran flakes, amongst other things. The japanese take on taste is different, for sure. They make dishes out if tastes most of us take for granted.
Been going there since 2004? or so. It has existed since the late 90s. The quality has never varied. It's a lot more interesting that sushi, and a lot of (cough, sad) folks who hate Sushi can enjoy it.
If I ever build or renovate my own home I'm going to put a tepan in as a breakfast table thing. You can just cook your egg and bacon right there. It'd be awesome. Life goals.
atlex Small world, that place is about 10mins walk from where I've worked for the past 8 years, although I haven't been to London for 10 months now!
I haven't had Okonomi-Yaki for many years now either, I'm a bit simple nowdays, give me some deep fried Agedashi tofu and tempura dip, Sauteed Yam and a miso soup and I'll be happy as, just keep me away from shochu and late night karoke . Oh and even though I tend to avoid almost all processed food, I do always have a golden curry cubes in for an emergency when I can't be rear canoed
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