Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Elite Japanese Cuisine

Oh! Did I say 'Elite Japanese Cuisine'? I meant stuff I found in convenience stores and vending machines! I... suppose there is a difference?

This first one isn't all that interesting. I think it's a Family Mart exclusive Sapporo soft drink, but I mostly took a picture because it's melon... cola? That and I never get tired of drinking curiously-hued beverages. In Japan of course, green melon soda is commonplace, but melon cola? To be frank I couldn't really tell the difference. It was good though!

McVitie's Sweet Mint Digestive Biscuits! Aw, now you're talking! These are one of those products that, although it's a Western company, I doubt you'll find these available in the West. That happens a lot (see for example whole blogs dedicated to the baffling array of Kit-Kat flavours they have here) and not just with food, but with clothing brands and other things too. Eastern and Western tastes vary, y'know.

But in this case, my tastes don't vary that much at all. I adore chocolate and mint flavoured stuff, but when I first came to Japan I never saw anything around, and when I told people I liked that taste they looked at me funny. Well, y'know, funnier than usual. But in the few years I've been here chocolate-mint flavoured items have been popping up more and more, and this summer was a veritable choco-minty feast for me, with all sorts of limited edition snacks and ice-creams on offer. I mean, when I saw this latest one I almost thought they'd designed it just for me. Until I turned over the packet...

I mean, she doesn't look like me at all. Oh well. Also, I'm pretty sure that the Japanese companies are treating choc-mint flavour as a summer thing, so now it's cooling down I won't find it anywhere, but it was good while it lasted.

Next up, vending machine awesomeness:

Walking through Sapporo Station I saw a DyDo vending machine selling pancake drink. I mean, pancake-flavoured milk drink, but... I mean that is either going to turn your stomach or turn your head. I think you can guess which it did for me:

Mmmmm, look at that melting butter. And there's definitely a hint of butter in the taste too, but it really wasn't too gross at all. From what's written on the can, it actually looks like this is more of a retro, nostalgia exercise than a bold new experiment in flavour. This pancake milkshake mix used to be available from the chocolate company Morinaga as a Nesquik-style stir-in powder. You'd add it to milk and - voila - drinkable pancakes. Morinaga are collaborating with DyDo on this... perhaps to get it back out there? Anyway it was pretty nice, probably too sweet for most people but I didn't have a problem with it. And yes, it did taste like pancakes. And in the end, isn't that what's important?

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Book of Mansion Names 7

Well, it's been almost two years since I've done one of these. The names of apartment buildings in Japan that in some way I think speak of the aspirations and dreams that all of us keep in our hearts. Imagine, you could one day live in a building with a name like this!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Sapporo Food - Medicineman Soup Curry

Inconvenience leads to discovery! Cafe Zill, where I used to go pretty regularly for lunch has closed for a refurb until later this year, so I've been forced to wander the streets of Yamahana looking for something else to eat. Luckily one rainy day I found a well known soup-curry shop called Medicineman!

It's great, and I'll recommend it right here at the start as a great, and rightly popular Soup Curry 'shack'. It's not really a shack, don't worry. The curry is delicious, and their slogan "A Good Medicine Tastes Hot!" is very apt. As with most soup curry places you have to select a spice level when you order. The first time I went I had 'HOT1' which was great, but their menu says that 'HOT2' is apparently the best match for Medicineman's soup flavour, so next time I tried that. It was pretty hot, but it was eff-ing great soup curry.

As with all soup curry shops (perhaps all small restaurants in general) the decor is a little eclectic. A lot of places go for a weird mish-mash of Jamaican, Indonesian and Indian art and objects, but Medicineman goes for a bit of Americana and a lot of early Hanna-Barbera looking native American characters.

Here's a snap of their pork curry, which has big chunks of 'kakuni' style pork in it. The pork, also, is excellent.

I'm not sure if there are other Medicineman shops around, usually for these established places there are two or three stores, but the one I went to was probably most easily accessed by streetcar from Odori or Susukino. It's clearly very popular too, since I've been there at lunch time and after work and it's always busy. They have a board at the entrance where you can put your name down if they don't have any seats free too. I have placed it on my map, and it comes with two thumbs up and a smiley face saying "Good Soup Curry!"