Thursday, January 04, 2007

Holiday vacation- part iv (food)

This trip had probably some of the most delicious food I've ever had... However, I was really surprised at the lack of fresh fruit!

We had a lot of the usuals, but somehow they just seemed more tasty, perhaps from the tropical environment we were in.... fried octopus/squid, ice cream, pizza... and then there were some new dishes- we tried a really weird salty seaweed delicacy called "umi budou" (seagrape) nicknamed "puchi puchi" for the sound it makes when each caviar-like "grape" pops in your mouth (also used to describe bubble wrap!). We feasted on Malaysian seafood hotpot, Filipino-style pineapple pork, dim sum, sashimi, and noodles. There were even a few western style cafes which had great drinks (coconut cappuccino), desserts (bananas foster), and bagels!

We tried many of the Okinawan dishes- "yaeyama soba" (noodles served with pork in a clear broth), "goya champuru" (a stir-fry of bitter melon with noodles & eggs), and "rafte", which is fatty, tender slices of pork that has been simmered for so long that it basically falls apart in your mouth... there was another version of this that we had a Garlic themed restaurant that was made with the famous Okinawan beef. I didn't care for the local beer (Orion) so much, and I thought the "awamori" (Okinawan "sake"- it's actually a type of shochu) was nasty. Paul had a few tastings (he said it tasted like scotch) and we even found a bottle of this awamori in a store with a curled up Habu snake at the bottom!!! We ordered "tako raisu" one night, thinking it would be rice with octopus, but no, it was "taco rice"- Mexican-style beef, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and salsa on a bed of rice.

Our hotel had a free breakfast every morning which I dubbed "bread fest"- it consisted of unlimited coffee/tea and all the bread you would/could want. There were the same few varieties every morning served in big baskets- white, "cheese", "cinnamon"?, and the most interesting- "ben imo"- a bright purple bread made from the purple sweet potato. In addition to the carb fest, scoops of potato salad were also offered, and on Christmas morning, there were even rice rolls with miso soup.

Everyday, we would spend 20 minutes at Hot Spar, the local convenience store- like 7-Eleven but with pretty good, fresh packaged lunches. We would load up on provisions for that day's adventures, buying fruit, drinks, cookies, snacks, and of course, the main meal- lunch. We chose from an assortment of sandwiches to bento boxes of rice with fish, vegetables, fried chicken to noodle salads to onigiri (rice balls).

After dinner one night, we found the Banana Cafe, a very hip bar/lounge/restarant, so we decided to stop in for a drink. I wish we found this place when we got there! It looks like a place right out of Nolita, with the dark wood furniture, candles, broken tile floors, and eclectic menu. I couldn't help but take a picture of the sign outside posting its hours.

One of my favorite snacks (and smells) is of the pancake-like "fish" sweets that are made on the streets throughout the year. They are filled with custard or red bean paste, served hot off the griddle, and just perfect anytime.


Sono said...

All the food sounds so good, but you never mentioned "o-mochi" It's a traditional New Years (pounded)sweet rice which can be prepared several ways. My favorite way is fried (no oil needed)in a pan until the rice ball puffs up to a bubble. Dipped in a soy sauce and sugar mixture. It tastes like "arare" (rice crackers)on a softer level. Eaten at N. Years, it's suppose to give you good luck for the upcoming year.

Anonymous said...

Da the fishy snack, I think that would be my favorite, it's in the shape of a fishy!!!! AND um, the soup....right, I'd are so brave, and might I add, beautiful...or should I say Paul-tiful? :) :) look at your long are positively glowing....or is that just good lighting, I can't tell, you are all the way over in Japan, I can't see that far....Miss you!!!!