Bullet Train Bento

Aah, the train bento. I don’t think I’d ever done it before, on my other trips to Japan. This time, I intended to get a proper bento, especially since I’d be traveling in the Green Car of the Shinkansen. I found some really great bento packages in a Kyoto Station grocery shop, so we bought a whole bunch of stuff and set off for our next destination: Atami.

Pictured above is lemon tea, which I actually get at the Japanese grocery store in Maryland if I’m lucky. It’s so sweet but oh so good.

Corn salad, apple juice (sort of), and chawan-mushi (a savory egg custard). Yum!

The rest:

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Arashiyama

Arashiyama is a sleepy little town on the outskirts of Kyoto, just a short train ride away. It’s quite lovely there. There’s a river, a bridge, a mountain, and a ‘monkey park.’ They had a bunch of cute shops en route to the park, so we stopped by for some sakura flavored soft ice cream. Yum! I loved it, but it might be a little surprising if you’re not used to salty flavored ice cream. There was definitely a hint of salt brined sakura leaf in the flavor.

I also got some sakura mochi, rice cake flavored with cherry blossom and wrapped in cherry blossom leaf.

And some pics from the monkey park:

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Mister Donut

While staying in Kyoto, we did a quickie side trip to neighboring Nara. There was a lot of walking involved. And temples. Not a lot of eating, however.

But we did end up at a Mister Donut, which are pretty ubiquitous in Japan. This was my first foray into this establishment. I think there was a doughnut craze here a few years back, with crazy two hour lines when they opened Krispy Kremes in Tokyo. I’m not sure if they’re particularly superior to the home-grown Misdo chain, but I guess a trend is a trend …

The seasonal flavor of ‘sakura’ was all over the place, including the doughnut shop.

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Matsumoto Shave Ice

Along the northern shore of Oahu, we stopped at a beach to hang out and watch the high surf coming in. Definitely not the kind of beach for novice swimmers, but ideal for experienced surfers. (I think winter is a good time for surfing). We then continued on to Haleiwa, a surf town near the end of the road before it starts turning back south. There we had shave ice at the famous Matsumoto Grocery Store. It’s not really a grocer anymore, but it used to be, before their main attraction became their shave ice. The sign out front still says Grocery Store though, probably for nostalgic reasons.

We got three different flavors: lychee, honeydew and coconut cream. There was azuki beans at the bottom, though most of it didn’t get consumed because by the time we got to the bottom, it was a soupy mess. The flavors were amazing though, very natural tasting, despite the strange colors. I think lychee was the red and coconut cream the bright pink.

Definitely pay the extra few cents for the blue plastic holder thing – you’ll need it if you don’t wanna lose chunks of shave ice as you try to chip away at this delicious mound with the flat wooden almost-spoon type thing they give you. (^O^)v

Beard Papa’s

beard papa

Later in the afternoon on Sunday, I met up with another friend for tea and dessert at the Beard Papa. They specialize in chou à la crème…cream puffs! In Japanese, it’s pronounced “shoo cream,” which always puzzled me when I was growing up. (Shoe polish??)

Beard Papa has locations in Hawaii, California and New York (among others). I first visited the one New York a few years ago, upon the recommendation of a friend who grew up in Hawaii. I loved the green tea flavored one, so was hoping to have the same one in San Francisco…

Unfortunately, they weren’t offering that flavor on that Sunday, so I ended up getting the coffee flavor instead. I paired it with a piping hot cup of green tea. It was very light and creamy, not too sweet. ♥ I think it could be a little smaller, though I could fault my enormous brunch for my inability to finish my mid afternoon cream puff. =)

21 Aug 2009, 6:50am
snacks
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So Yummi Cherry Pudding

so yummi box

I wasn’t even going to write about this product, but I thought I should pass on my experience to you, so you can benefit from my suffering. (X____o)

I came across this box of “So Yummi” cherry flavored whipped pudding at the Whole Foods a few days ago, and was totally drawn in by the cute exterior. Nevermind that it was described as “lactose/dairy free, gluten free, vegan, no trans fats, low in sodium, source of fiber, contains prebiotic, sweetened with beet syrup.” Obviously all these should’ve been indicators that this stuff was going to be horribly nasty. But the recent Top Chef Masters episode featuring vegan/gluten free cuisine had made me a tentative believer in this manufactured nonsense…so I gave this adorable package a go.

BIG MISTAKE.

“So Yummi”?? More like SO YUCKI. I should’ve read the ingredients more carefully, because there’s nothing cherry in this “cherry flavored” crap. I tasted a vague hint of cherry in the first spoonful, but that pleasant (if artificial) flavor was quickly replaced by an aftertaste of damp cardboard. It was so nasty I felt nauseated. I promptly tossed out the rest of the cup, and futilely tried to scrub the horrible memory of the flavor out of my mind. Seriously, this stuff robbed me of my appetite for the rest of my morning.

You have been warned.

 
 
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