10 little-known rules for eating Japanese food

Japanese food

RocketNews 24 (by Michelle Lynn Dinh):

Japanese food, called washoku in Japan, has just been registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, but you didn’t need an official declaration to know that sushi and tempura are absolutely delicious. But while enjoying Japanese food, have you ever mixed wasabi and soy sauce as a dip for your sushi? Or how about using your bowl as a chopstick rest? If so, you’ve committed an etiquette faux pas. Take a look at our list of 10 little-known rules for eating Japanese food and save yourself some embarrassment while enjoying a traditional Japanese meal.

1) Never use your hand to catch falling food

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Cupping your left hand under your food to catch any falling morsels or drippings is actually bad manners. Using tezara (手皿), literally “hand plate,” may seem polite, eliminating any errant spills or stains on the table top or your clothing, but this common eating habit should be avoided when sitting down to a Japanese meal.

2) Avoid using your teeth to bite food in half

In general, you should always try to eat things in one bite and avoid using your teeth to tear food into smaller pieces. Since it’s impolite to place half-eaten food back on a plate, cover your mouth with your hand when chewing big pieces of food.

3) Never mix wasabi into your soy sauce

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This improper eating method is seen in many restaurants all over the world, but should be avoided. Instead, place a small amount of wasabi directly on the piece of sashimi and then dip the fish into the soy sauce.

4) Don’t invert the lid of your bowl

Inverting the lid of your bowl is mistaken as a cue for being finished eating, however, the proper cue is to replace the lid on top of the bowl, just as it looked when brought to the table. This is because you could damage the lid by turning it upside down.

5) Don’t place clam shells in the bowl’s lid or on a separate plate

shijimi clams

When served clams or other shellfish, many people tend to put the empty shell in the lid of a bowl or on a separate plate once they’ve finished the meat. This is actually impolite and should be avoided; diners should instead leave the shell inside the bowl it was served in.

6) Don’t hold your chopsticks before picking up your bowl

When eating a Japanese meal, you should first pick up the bowl or vessel you will eat from and then pick up your chopsticks. When changing bowls, first put down your chopsticks, then change bowls. Only after you have picked up the second bowl should you pick up your chopsticks again.

7) Don’t hover or touch food without taking it, and always pause to eat your rice

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Not sure which food to eat first? Hovering your chopsticks back and forth over the side dishes before finally choosing is a breach of etiquette. It’s such bad manners that the practice has an official name, mayoibashi (迷い箸), literally “hesitating chopsticks.” Touching a food with your own chopsticks and then pulling them away without taking anything is called sorabashi (空箸), or “empty chopsticks,” and should also be avoided. You better pause to eat some rice between those side dishes, if you don’t you are committing utsuribashi (移り箸), literally “transition chopsticks.”

8) Never rest your chopsticks across the top of your bowl

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You’ve probably seen this done so many times it seems like the correct thing to do, but using your bowl as a chopstick rest is a breach of etiquette. If you want to put down your chopsticks, you should do so on a chopstick rest, or hashioki (箸置き). If none are available, use the wrapper the chopsticks came in to make your own. If a wrapper isn’t available, you should rest your chopsticks on the side of a tray or other similar item on the table.

9) Don’t use the opposite end of your chopsticks to take food from a communal plate

Since the backsides of the chopsticks are where your hands rest, it’s actually not a very clean area and shouldn’t be used to pick up food. Asking the waitstaff for an extra pair of chopsticks or politely saying, jika bashi de shitsurei shimasu (excuse me for using my own chopsticks), and taking food using your chopsticks is actually the proper thing to do.

10) Never raise your food above your mouth

Many people raise their food to about eye level while saying, itadakimasu before eating. However, proper etiquette states that you should never raise your food above your mouth, the highest level your chopsticks ever reach.

***Bonus***

Many people already know this, but you should never raise chopsticks to your mouth that are dripping with soup or liquid and never stab food with your chopsticks. You should also never leave your chopsticks standing straight out of your rice or pass food between chopsticks as these are reminiscent of funeral customs and seen as a bad omen if performed anywhere else.

10 distinctly Japanese comfort foods

RocketNews 24:

Comfort food” is traditional cooking that tends to have a nostalgic or sentimental connection, often one related to family or childhood: the grilled cheese sandwiches your mother used to make; the thought of your grandmother’s bread pudding makes your mouth water; the way the whole house would be filled with the intoxicating aroma of roasted turkey or ham at Christmas? Because of such memories, these foods comfort us, especially when we’re longing for home or feeling especially vulnerable.

Not surprisingly, the sentimental Japanese have their own comfort foods. While you might think they’d be waxing over the octopus tentacles of home, very few of the dishes we’re about to talk about have much to do with seafood. Many Japanese comfort foods have a rice connection and may even center around the unique relationship between mothers or wives and their role in family food preparation. And in Japan, make no mistake about it–her kitchen rules!

Here are 10 distinctly Japanese comfort foods:

1. Miso soup and rice (味噌汁とご飯)

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Miso soup and its companion bowl of rice are sometimes described as a “marriage.” This is the food Japanese miss most when they leave home to live on their own for the first time or if they travel abroad and tire of “Western breakfast.”

Miso soup is hardly ever served without its faithful rice. For centuries this edible couple has been considered the main part of a classic, healthy Japanese breakfast. “Mom’s miso soup” is, quite simply, to die for. And each Mom adds her own touch to the recipe, so the subtle flavors vary according to household. So powerful is this aromatic duo that the mere thought of smelling miso upon waking up in the morning can leave a study-abroad student salivating as he or she is transported temporarily back to the mother ship.

Other than the miso base, other ingredients in the soup may include dashi broth, tofu, chopped green onion, wakame seaweed and a plethora of others. See some miso soup anime ads that bring out the true miso spirit.

Try making it! Learn how to make miso soup in the Rocket Kitchen. No miso? No problem–miso can be made at home too!

 

2. Onigiri (おにぎり)

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While women’s hands are said to be too warm to become sushi chefs, those ostensibly hot hands surely come in handy when it comes to making rice balls. This favorite snack, made from either fresh steamed rice or leftover rice from the night before, is standard fare for bento lunches and picnics. All good outdoor gatherings feature the highly portable and nutritious triangular-shaped sticky rice ball, which is geometrically formed by squeezing it just so in the palms of the hands. Each ball is filled with one of a number of ingredients from sweet salmon to sour plums, and the triangle of rice is girthed with a seaweed belt so moist, it doesn’t actually stick to your lips like the papery convenience-store kind.

According to Japanese aesthetics, any food tastes better with proper scenery, so you’ll find rice balls at every “Hanami” cherry blossom party.

 

3. Tempura (天ぷら)

Tempura

This favorite food of foreigners is also a favorite of the Japanese (even though tempura is thought to have originally come from Portugal). Surely, worldwide, everyone loves tempura! And mama’s home made has gotta be the best. But I can’t help think that the nostalgia surrounding this food (the taste of which doesn’t vary that much from kitchen to kitchen) has to do with the method of preparation: the wife dutifully stays in the kitchen throughout the meal, only emerging occasionally when the next batch of piping hot veggies are ready to be served to her expectant family. And of course a Japanese wife is happy, perhaps even ecstatic, to do this, in order to fulfill the expectations of the perfect mother who, at least in the old days, was said to “make and serves food with all her heart” (kokorokomete ryoriotsukurimasu).

Tip! Be sure to have fun with your tempura–make it colossal!

 

4. Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き)

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A close runner up as an all-time favorite by foreigners and Japanese alike is oknomiyaki (literally “grilled as you like it”). What could be more fun than playing with your food? Mix up the cabbage with a combination of okonomiyaki flour and milk, add a raw egg, then ingredients such as mochi, cheese, fish, pork, or corn (anything really–as you like it!). Leave it on the grill to cook then top it with sweet okonomiyaki sauce!

Whether Hiroshima style or Osaka style, oknonomiyaki satisfies even the most unsophisticated pallets. It’s what I serve to my parents who don’t like Japanese food (surely the only two people left in the world). This pancake-like food is certainly interactive and gets everyone communing at the table.

Not only that, but such comfort foods pull at the heartstrings of boys when they become myopic, nostalgic adults missing their mommies. In Japan, the relationship between mothers and sons is supposed to be extra special (sorry girls!).

Watch it! A video of one man’s gourmet food trip through Japan, including oknomiyaki.

 

5. Tamago Kake Gohan (卵かけ御飯)

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This simple dish is so fast, so simple, and so good! Just a raw egg, a little soy sauce (if you like) and some cooked white rice will give you a meal on the go. One of our RocketNews24 writers who grew up eating TKG, says it’s her go-to comfort food. Just pour the raw egg yolk over the rice and mix it together: ta-da! Isn’t that convenient?! Who said you couldn’t cook Japanese food?

Make it! Try Rocket Kitchen’s Ultimate TKG

6. Nabe (鍋)

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Nabe is one of those foods in the “cooked in large earthenware pot” family. It is stewed in a vessel that sits in the middle of the table. Meat and vegetables are added throughout the entire dinner session, with each person around the dinner table reaching into the pot with their chopsticks to pick out their own vegetables or meats (or perhaps dished out by mom) as the ingredients slowly cook. This dish is only shared with family or good friends who you’re absolutely sure don’t have any contagious diseases. The constant dipping of your chopsticks into the broth to dig out mighty morsels means that you’ll be sharing your germs. On the other hand, you can console yourself that the boiling broth may kill most of the cooties someone might unknowingly be passing on. Nabe, a winter food, is usually associated with close friends and family, the equivalent of sitting around a bonfire with a guitar and singing songs together. Being invited to a nabe party is a definitive indication you’ve been accepted into the inner circle. Try yosenabe–or “fling it all in” nabe!

Make it cute! Tips on how to make your nabe look as kawaii as possible!

 

7. Okayu (おかゆ)

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When Japanese feel a cold coming on, they reach for okayu–a warm, easily digestible watery mush made from rice. It’s also the food of choice if you’re missing your teeth. Even Kiki, the heroine of the anime film Kiki’s Delivery Service, can be seen eating okayu in a scene when she is sick. So next time you’re feeling a bit under the weather, do what Kiki does and try some rice porridge!

Make it! Ghibli-inspired rice porridge

8. Udon (うどん)

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While both ramen and udon noodles are loved by the Japanese, I’m going to stick to Udon here because, well, it’s Japanese (whereas ramen in technically Chinese) and udon is the Wall Street Journal of noodles–it’s way more sophisticated than ramen. Ramen’s reputation is that of an easy, greasy food eaten when you’re in need of something filling and moreish but not especially good for you–often after a night out drinking. But while ramen satisfies, udon nurtures. The warmth of steam emanating from a large bowl of udon, and enveloping your face in the wintertime is enough to warm you to your toes. It’s no wonder that in Kagawa Prefecture, the udon capital of Japan, and where they are known to eat udon while in the bath, that they’re using the long unleavened egg dough to generate power. How cool is that?!

9. Curry Rice (カレーライス)

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Curry rice doesn’t sound like it’s Japanese, and surely its origins aren’t (Japanese curry comes from India by way of the British navy, would you believe), but the way the Japanese have modified their knock-off version is distinctly their own. It’s sweet, gooey and heaped over sticky rice! And it’s usually not spicy at all. Kids and adults alike love this cheap, easy-to-prepare food, usually made from boxed curry you buy at the store. And anything can be added to it including meat and veggies. For me, I prefer the real thing, but the fact is that Japanese kids grow up eating and loving the Japanese version. Curry rice is served in school lunches, at ski resorts, on the beach, and at restaurants everywhere. It’s ubiquitous, which means it’s a fallback food anywhere, anytime. Except abroad, where you’ll rarely, if ever, find it.

Tip! Twelve meals to make using leftover curry

10. Ochazuke (お茶漬け)

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We saved ochazuke for last because this dish is consumed at the very end of a meal. Ochazuke is most likely only encountered by foreigners who dine with Japanese, so may not be well-known to mere tourists. But most foreigners’ first encounter is similar: You’re at the end of a meal, feeling like a total pig because you’ve eaten so much amazing food. You’re sitting back in your chair, hands folded over the swollen stomach, thinking you couldn’t eat another bite of anything even if it were apple pie, when suddenly, someone at the table pipes up, “Let’s have ochazuke!” They tackle the waiter who dutifully takes away one thing from the table: the leftover rice. This is taken back to the kitchen, where the chef mixes it with green tea (and perhaps some other things). The rice concoction is brought back out to the table and presented as the last course, like a sort of savoury dessert. It’s warm, it’s delicious, and you somehow find a little extra room in your distended stomach for it before completely passing out.

Tip! Just combine green tea and rice.

 

Disney’s Baymax appears in curry, hot pots, and more, thanks to cheesy food-based pun

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RocketNews 24:

You might not guess it, given the country’s well-known acceptance of stoicism as an admirable virtue, but Japan absolutely loves puns. In fact, the characteristics of the Japanese language, such as multiple potential pronunciations for the same kanji character, make it a veritable pun-producing machine.

For example, the character for “rice,” 米, is usually read as kome. When it’s combined with other characters, though, it’s read as mai or bei, with the latter being pronounced like the English word “bay.”

Of course, that also means bei is pronounced like the first half of Baymax, the loveable caretaker/combat robot from Disney’s Big Hero 6. And now that Japanese fans of the film have figured out how to put a little rice into Baymax, they’re also coming up with ways to put a little Baymax into their meals by making Baymax curry rice, rice balls, and nabe hot pots.

You can thank pop idol Haruna Kojima for kicking off the culinary trend. Earlier this month, the AKB48 member found herself with some extra time on her hands, so rather than make a plain old plate of curry rice, she decided to shape the fluffy white grains into a likeness of Baymax, adding two small, connected circles of dried seaweed to recreate his simple facial expression.

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Identifying her creation as Baymax, but written with the kanji for rice, Kojima posted the above photo to her Instagram account, where it put smiles on the faces and rumbles in the stomachs of all who gazed upon its appetite-stimulating cuteness. Even better, in contrast to the difficulty in trying to craft an edible version of Pokémon’s Pikachu or Yo-Kai Watch’s Jibanyan, Baymax’s soft, simple form and almost entirely white color scheme means that just about everyone can manage this cooking project, as proven by the steady stream of Rice-max photos that have been popping up since.

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View image on Twitter

Even six weeks after its release, Big Hero 6 is still going strong in Japan, wherepositive word of mouth about the films variety of action, comedy, and heartfelt emotion made it the highest-grossing movie in the country last weekend, just like it was for the three weekends before that. It’s a testament to the film’s broad appeal that stretches beyond just the kiddie demographic, and includes fans old enough to enjoy a little alcoholic refreshment with their Baymax curry.
View image on Twitter

Of course, Japan has a lot more ways to eat rice than just covering it with curry roux. How about a Baymax oyako-don, a rice bowl with chicken, egg, and the cuddly robot?

View image on Twitter

If you’re after even lighter fare, you can combine rice and miso soup, which is also a great way to make use of leftovers of the two Japanese staples.

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It’s also worth bearing in mind that the rice/bei/Baymax pun still holds up even if you’re not using plain white rice. For example, mochi (rice cakes) are just as appropriate for adding a dash of Disney to your hot pot.

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10 Asian soups to keep you warm over the holidays

mieayam

 Audrey Magazine:

On a blistering cold night, a steaming hot bowl of soup is the tastiest cure to the shivers and well, almost everything else right? Now that winter is full steam (sorry) ahead, here are ten different Asian soups, from the popular to the underrated, that you should try eating and possibly try making this winter!

1. Kuy Teav

Image courtesy of khatiya-komer

A Cambodian delicacy, kuy teav is a Camobidan Chinese pork noodle soup made from a clear broth and flat rice noodles. Kuy teav is usually enjoyed as a breakfast dish from street vendors, but we feel that it’s comforts will last throughout the day!

2. Soba

Image courtesy of kampai.us

Unlike the popular ramen, soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour. Soba can be a year round dish and is typically served either hot and in a soup for winter or chilled with a dipping sauce for summer. Also, soba differs from udon in that soba noodles are thin while udon noodles are genuinely thicker.

 3. Laksa

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A spicy MalayasianChinese fusion dish. There are three main types of laksa: curry laksa, asam laksa and sarawak laksa. Curry laksa has a coconut curry base, while asam laksa has a sourfish soup base, and sarawak has a sambal belacan base. No matter which type of laksa you choose, it’s sure to give you a kick!

4. Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

Image Courtesy of S.O.F.A.T BLOG

There are many different types of beef noodle soups out there. However, the red-braised beef noodle soup was invented by Chinese refugees in Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War. Today, Taiwan considers this red-braised beef noodle soup a national dish. With it’s tender beef and spicy broth, it is sure to be a comfort during those chilly months.

5. Tong Sui

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Tong Sui literally means “sugar water” in Cantonese and is a soup dessert that is a Cantonese delicacy.

6. Bakmi Ayam

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Bakmi ayam, or often shortened to mei ayam, is an Indonesian noodle soup that is very simple but delicious. The main ingredients are wheat noodles, chinese bok choy (cabbage), and slices of chicken and mushroom. Eaten separately or together with the broth, the soup is delicious either way!

7. Sinigang

Image courtesy of PanlasangPinoy

Sinigiang is a Filipino dish. A tamarind-based soup, Sinigiang is usually sour because of ingredients such as guava and ripe mango.

8. Soondobu Jjigae

Image courtesy of LTHforum

Soondubu jjigae is a spicy Korean tofu soup. It’s typically served in a hot stone pot with other dishes such as rice, meat, or banchan on the side.

9. Milagu Rasam

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Milagu Rasam is a pepper tamarind-based South Indian soup. Supposedly, both the black pepper and tamarind are natural heat-inducing ingredients for the body. Either way, milagu rasam is a tasty method to staying warm!

10. Bun Mang Vit

Image courtesy of PhamVo's Kitchen

Pho is probably the most famous Vietnamese soups, but Bun Mang Vit, a duck and noodle soup, is also another tasty option! The main ingredients here are duck, bamboo shoots and vermicelli noodles, but the lemongrass, ginger and chili give this soup a nice kick.

London’s best ramen bars


Time Out:

From Kyushu-style tonkotsu made with long-simmered pork bone broth, to simple soy sauce based soup, we’ve seen a spate of ramen joints open in London.

Here’s a pick of where to grab a steaming bowl of thin wheat noodles in broth. Do you agree with the choices?

Ippudo

3 Central St Giles Piazza, WC2 8AG

The speciality here is tonkotsu with pork loin slices, crunchy kikurage (cloud ear mushroom) and thin, own-made noodles (in the dish called Shiromaru Hakata Classic). Vegetarians are not left out at Ippudo: there’s a seaweed and mushroom broth-based version that’s topped with fried tofu. Sadly, this is another no-bookings restaurant, and despite running to 80 covers, queues have been enormous so far.

Kanada-Ya

64 St Giles High St, WC2H 8LE

Founded in Japan in 2009, this award-winning tonkotsu specialist arrived in London in September 2014. Small, brightly lit and minimal, it is not the place for a leisurely meal. And it has a serious downside: lengthy mealtime queues outside its doors. But this is exceptional ramen, using smooth, rich, seriously savoury tonkotsu broth – one of the best we’ve tried in London.

Bone Daddies

30-31 Peter Street, W1F 0AT

The flavours are bold; the dining room is tightly packed; the staff are friendly. Bone Daddies is a gusty New York-style ramen bar with blaring rock music and a range of seriously rich ramen dishes.

Sasuke

32 Great Windmill Street, W1D 7LR

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In Tokyo there’s a whole, maze-like restaurant devoted to ninjas with stealthy staff dressed the part. Now London also has its own ninja-inspired venue, named after the fictional Edo period warrior Sarutobi Sasuke. But you won’t find any trick doors or throwing stars at this Soho ramen bar. As for the ramen, our miso version was hearty enough to fuel any covert mission.

Seto

5-6 Plender St, NW1 0JT

There are just a handful of varieties on offer at Seto, like soya sauce (shoyu), miso and Korean pickled cabbage (kimchi). All are made with an earthy chicken and pork bone broth and filled with pleasingly chewy noodles. Another ramen shop staple, pork gyoza dumplings, make a good choice too with crisp bottoms and bouncy wrappers.

Shoryu Ramen

9 Regent Street, SW1Y 4LR

Shoryu Ramen, japanese noodle joint, 9 Regent Street, SW1Y 4LR

Run by the same people as the Japan Centre across the road, Shoryu mix authentic Japanese flavours with a little bit of innovation. Specialising in tonkotsu ramen, made with a long-simmered pork bone broth, the bowls are filled with bouncy noodles and include a choice of unusual toppings like wasabi stalks and spicy-pickled mustard leaves. There’s a second branch in Soho.

Tonkotsu

63 Dean Street, W1D 4QG

Another champion of the long-simmered pork bone broth variety of noodles in soup stock, Tonkotsu serve theirs topped with slices of tender pork, beansprouts and half a marinated soft-boiled egg. They also offer a veggie noodle soup here – something you don’t see so often at ramen joints. There’s a second branch in Haggerston.

7-Eleven Japan introduces the Eggs Benedict Sandwich

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RocketNews 24:

 

For a Westerner in Japan, breakfast is just incorrect. If North Americans living in Japan had to pick the one thing they miss most about home, a lot of them would probably scream, “Breakfast food!

Traditional Japanese breakfast is completely different and usually consists of rice, fish and miso soup. It’s boring, lacking in any real taste and basically good for you, unlike our favorite breakfast dishes. Of course, some places serve a “Western-style” breakfast, but that usually includes ham that they call “bacon”, in other words, facon! Get outta here you fake bacon!

So when 7-Eleven dropped this “Eggs Benedict Sandwich” onto its shelves, we figured it couldn’t possibly be worse than any other breakfast food out there, or could it?  Better prepare yourself Eggs Benny, we won’t play nice. Get ready for the toughest food review yet!

It always starts with a random venture to the convenience store to find a drink or a quick snack and ends up being an adventure. There is a new food to try? Excellent, throw it in the basket! So when we saw this non-assuming plastic wrapped English muffin sandwich on the shelf, we only gave it a cursory glance because it was new. But then we read:

Eggs Benedict Style Muffin
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No way! Hollandaise sauce, ham, and egg sandwich?!? We looked at the main ingredients.

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Muffin, half-boiled egg, bologna sausage, and hollandaise sauce! Pretty much the same! But, hollandaise sauce in Japan?  That is a tough sauce to get right and already so many Western foods have been ruined by Japanese hands.

 

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After heating it up (500W, 1 min or 1500W, 20 sec) we delicately started to unwrap the packaging.

 

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The wrapping was obviously done this way so that someone could use it to hold the sandwich and catch any sauce droppings.

 

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It definitely smells like hollandaise sauce. Let’s inspect it a little more.

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The egg certainly wasn’t runny like the picture indicated, but that was the least of our worries. It’s the sauce that remains questionable. Here goes nothing.

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It’s actually pretty close to what real eggs benedict tastes like! The hollandaise sauce is definitely not made from scratch but it could compete with any of the instant sauces in the States. The ham is thick enough to provide its own distinct taste and the egg completes the sandwich. It is certainly not the best eggs benedict ever, but it’s an adequate substitute for one you could find in a restaurant. While it is a bit pricey at 320 yen (about US $2.75) for only one sandwich, it seems to be available any time of the day, as long as it’s in stock. Our final thoughts?

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Japanese people list 10 ingredients they never, ever want to find in their miso soup

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RocketNews 24:

 

Miso soup is a staple food in pretty much any Japanese household. Served morning, noon or night, this thin, slightly salty broth is tasty, filling, and, as you’ve probably already realised, is the perfect accompaniment to rice. It is so deeply ingrained in Japanese culture that in some areas of the country there even exists a joke that a man may indirectly propose to a woman simply asking, “Will you make my miso soup for me every morning?

But one person’s idea of a perfect bowl of miso soup can be another’s salty soy nightmare. With so many ingredients that go, or at least seem to go, well in a bowl of Japan’s favourite broth, it can be difficult to find a bowl that ticks all the boxes, and there are some ingredients that – depending on one’s upbringing, personal tastes or geographical location – are considered simply unacceptable.

Japanese web magazine My Navi Woman recently conducted a survey asking people aged 19 to 77 to share their most hated miso soup ingredient. 286 respondents were more than ready to comply, naming ingredients that range from the perfectly ordinary to the genuinely stomach-churning.

Let’s take a look at these supposedly “unforgivable” ingredients, shall we?

 

9. (tied) Carrot (2.1%)

Carrot may be a staple ingredient in the likes of 豚汁 tonjiru (miso-based pork soup), but it turns out that lot of people in Japan simply can’t abide the things in their miso soup. That being said, lots of kids in Japan claim to hate carrots, so seeing the humble ninjinon the list perhaps shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

9. (tied) Cabbage (2.1%)

Cabbage features in a lot of Japanese dishes, and generally speaking the cabbage in Japan is much tastier than that in my native UK. Perhaps the thought of eating soup that looks like something served to old people in a Dickens novel is all too depressing for some to abide?

7. (tied) Bean sprouts (2.4%)

Another curious entry. Bean sprouts crop up in all kinds of dishes in Japan, and the enormous selection you’ll find in any Japanese supermarket is enough to make any visitor’s head spin, but apparently the water content in bean sprouts makes an otherwise delicious bowl of miso soup “taste gross”, with 2.4% of respondents naming them as their most hated ingredient.

7. (tied) Fruit of any kind (2.4%)

This one I, and hopefully any other moderately sane human being, can more than understand. What kind of sadistic cook puts fruit in their miso soup and expects people to like it!? At least three, it would seem, as two people surveyed reported having been served miso soup with apple in it, while one poor soul said they’d seen miso soup with pineapple floating on its surface. Pardon me while I dry heave over the bin.

6. Nameko  (3.5%)

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Nameko, or pholiota nameko to give its full name, is one of those ingredients that you either like or loathe. Due to their texture and small size, nameko can be tricky to get hold of with chopsticks, and for some they are simply too slimy for their own good.

 

5. Natto (3.8%)

This next entry should come as no surprise to anyone. Natto may well have its fans, but those gooey fermented soy beans are also one of Japan’s most hated foods, so the very idea of mixing them into miso soup is enough to make this writer feel a bit queasy. Unless that’s just the thought of pineapple miso soup still in the back of my mind.

4. Cucumber (5.6%)

Probably about on par “any kind of fruit” in terms of texture, cucumber is another very strange choice for a miso soup ingredient, and we pity those who have ever had it served to them. Some people really do just want to watch the world burn, don’t they?

3. Potato (7.0%)

This one could be a something of a controversial ingredient since potato appears in plenty miso-based broths in Japan, especially up in the north where potato and satoimo are commonly seen in miso soup. Does it really belong, though? I’m going to have to agree with the respondent who stated that potato’s habit of breaking apart in miso soup makes it a wholly unpleasant ingredient, and cast it into Room 101 forever.

2. Tomato (7.3%)

Our sparkling tomato-juice loving writer Preston might disagree, but I’m going to join the 7.3% of people who named this as their most hated miso soup ingredient – including the woman who said she was once served it by a friend and couldn’t bring herself to eat it – by giving this one my stamp of disapproval. Tomato in miso soup? Ew.

 

1. Eggplant (8.7%)

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In at number one, it’s the humble eggplant (or aubergine if you’re from my corner of the globe). Quite why, we’re not sure, since eggplant goes with pretty much anything and positively soaks up flavour. Perhaps those slivers of purple-skinned vegetable simply look a bit too slug-like for some?

Let this be a lesson to you, Rocketeers: not all miso soups are created equal, and not everyone will be a fan of yours, so make doubly sure the object of your affections can knock up a good one before asking if they’ll make your miso every morning!