Monday, June 24, 2013

Snacking in Tokyo

In addition to all the great restaurants we dined at during our travels to Tokyo, Japan, we also had a chance to grab snacks along the way.  Check it out!

1. Kiwi Yogurt and Green Tea Cake
Believe it or not, convenience markets (think 7-11 or Quick-Mart) are a great place to grab cheap eats in Tokyo.  On our first night, we raided a 24-hr market near our hotel for snacks and picked up this kiwi yogurt (in a convenient pouch with built in straw) and some pastries to have as breakfast the next morning.  This particular cake was green tea in flavor (and color) and filled with a thin layer of sweet cream.

2. Manju
Nakamise-dori, the pedestrian walkway before the Asakusa Kannon Temple, offered many traditional and untraditional snacks, including these deep-fried manju or red bean cakes coated in flavored batter, such as black sesame, green tea and Japanese apricot. For 100 JPY (roughly $1), I got a hot apricot manju, fresh from the fryer, with a cup of cold matcha green tea.

3. Arare
Arare is a type of bite-sized Japanese cracker made from glutinous rice and flavored with soy sauce. The name is chosen to evoke snow pellets – as they are similar in size and shape to snow pellets, though others can vary significantly in size, flavor and shape.  Arare is also called kakimochi or mochi crunch in Hawaii where it was introduced in the 1900s and is often mixed with nuts or wasabi peas akin to trail mix.

4. Ningyo Yaki
Near many of the temples, there are quite a few shops making ningyo yaki or miniature molded red bean cakes. Translating to "fried dolls" these small cakes are made by pouring batter into intricate molds—varying from Hello Kitty to a traditional lantern—and are typically filled with red bean paste, but may also be filled with chocolate or custard.  They were really good eaten warm, but are also packaged in a way so you can bring them home.

5. Yakitori
Commonly known as grilled skewered chicken, yakitori is a must have street snack. Who doesn't love meat on a stick?  But be warned - they use the offal parts of chicken (liver, heart) too, so some bites were a bit extra chewy to say the least.

6. Soft Serve Ice Cream
Soft serve ice cream is a huge hit in Tokyo.  School kids often crowd the stands to get a cone of this cool treat.  After walking the sites all day in the gorgeous hot sun, I was dying for a refreshing treat myself.  I got a twisted cone of green tea and sweet potato.  The picture on the right doesn't do the purple color of the sweet potato justice due to the bright sun, but the purple color did come through on the display on the left. 

7. Tamago
Tamago is a type of Japanese omelette, which is made by rolling together several layers of cooked egg.  At the Tsukiji Market, we found a stand that sold various tamago filled with lobster, shrimp, spinach, and other goodies and sold them in a mixed cup called an "egg cocktail."  It was super delicious and one of Keith's favorite snacks during the whole trip.

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