JAPANESE FOOD 
This page is dedicated to sharing my experience and opinion of the Japanese food that I have been able to sample while I was in the country.

 
Nato:  This is probably my least favorite Japanese food.  It is compiled of soy beans that are fermented.  It looks like beans in caramel and has the same consistency.  But it doesn't smell or taste like caramel.  One waft of this and you'll think that you just took a trip to the Garbage dump.  Tasting it isn't any better! My Score:  Negative ***** ; I only have tried this once, back in America.  My brother gave me some and told me to try it.  All I can remember is leaning over he sink heaving.  While I was in Japan I had the opportunity to smell it many times though.  The Japanese like to have this for breakfast and sometimes even cooked in other things.  While I was in Japan there was a cooking show where 2 chefs had to make all their dishes from Nato...What a task!!!  On the other hand the Japanese equivalent of Nato to them is eating rice in milk with cinnamon and sugar (A Fausett family favorite).
Soba:  There are two kinds of soba, fried or the regular.  The Regular is composed of Buckwheat noodles that are about 12 inches long and 1/2 an inch in diameter.  The noodles are in a tasty (what I thought) beef broth that has onions and a few other vegetables in it.  This is usually ate with Tempura or battered vegetables and fish.  My Score:  **** ; this dish is very healthy and has a heartwarming taste.  It isn't too rich but isn't dull either.  Soba filled me up very quickly and didn't weigh me down.  I would recommend this dish to all those health nuts out there.  I was able to try this on the day that we went to see the Buddha's.
Unco:  Actually Onco, but the name is appropriate for it taste. Sweet beans.  This is the weirdest stuff and I particularly don't care for it.  It has a bean/grainy texture, but it tastes sweet, which to Americans that is unusual.  They use onco to make pastries, Ice cream, cakes, and all manner of other sweets. My Score:  * ; I first had Unco in Asaksa and then found that this stuff was everywhere, once I arrived in Aizu.  I had tasted it in a deep fried green batter, a pastry, and had seen it in Ice Cream.  There is also a cartoon called Unco man where the Hero comes to the starving people and instructs them to take a bite from his head.
Kaki:  A bright red/yellow fruit.  The fall is the season in which it flourishes.  It is about the size of a small apple and it's consistency is like a hard peach.  It has a slightly sweet flavor and there is no other fruit like it.  It doesn't have a citrus tang or a really dull taste.  To me it is kind of a plain fruit. My Score:  ** ; I was able to try this many times while I was in Aizu.  I had it plain and tried it with some mayonnaise on it, which was suggested by a friend.  It actually enhanced the taste.  During the holiday season it is a normal custom to send boxes of these to family and friends.
Nashi:  This fruit is AWESOME!  It is a mix between a pear and an apple.  Imagine the size of a VERY large apple and the crispness thereof, the texture of a pear, and the sweet refreshing juices of both an apple and a pear combined.  It is one of the things that I miss about Japan. My Score:  ***** ; I had this fruit while I was in Aizu and I loved it.  I am going to try to find it back in America.
Ramen:  Now this isn't the same kind of ramen that you eat in America.  This had very thick and very long noodles (depending upon where you eat it at; could be home made) in either a beef, pork, or chicken broth, or in Miso (Soy bean sweet flavored soup) soup.  The noodles are not alone though.  There are also onions, cabbage, mushrooms, pork, fish cakes, and other various items, depending upon which ramen you order.  It is normally about twice the size of the ramen you get back in America and is probably twice as healthy for you too.  The broth and soup is sweeter and contains more of a spicier flavor than the ramens back home.  My Score:  ***** ; I first had ramen back in Tokyo, but had some more that knocked my socks off in Aizu.  It is probably one of my favorite Japanese foods now.  You eat it with chopsticks (which I must say I have developed the skill to eat with them now) and a large soup spoon.  The noodles are Slurped up from your chopsticks.  This is done, not to be rude, but to cool the noodles off as they enter your mouth.  It is required to eat this loud.  The broth is drunk with the spoon while you eat.  Oishi!
Sukiyaki:  A skillet with no handle is placed upon the table.  Inside the skillet is placed a sauce made up of soy sauce, sake, water, and other unknown (to me) ingredients.  The sauce is then boiled in the skillet and Beef (or pork), mushrooms, cabbage, clear noodles, and onions are added to the boiling brew.  As they cook a bowl with a raw egg stirred up is placed in front of every person.  Once the meat and other items are cooked, each person grabs, with their chopsticks, what they would like to eat out of the skillet, dips it in their raw egg and eats.  This continues, adding more sauce and items when needed.  A bowl of rice is at the side, just like any traditional Japanese meal. My Score:  ***** ; My all time favorite Japanese meal.  Outstanding in taste.  It is sweet but contains a rich salty and spicy flavor at the same time.  The raw egg helps to lock in the flavor.  I thought it was quiet weird to dip things into a raw egg the first time I had this in Tokyo, but once I had tried it, I would never be the same.  I again had this dish in Aizu at home. 
Tempura:  Basically anything that is battered and deep fried.  Usually sweet potatoes, onions, shrimp, fish, squid, and about any other vegetable you can think of.  Usually dipped in soy, vinegar, and ginger sauce. My Score:  **** ; This is very good food.  The sauce brings out the flavor of all the fried items.  I had this a few times while I was in Japan.  A very common food.  It is fried so it isn't the healthiest thing to eat though.
Melon Pan:  This is a bowl shaped bread.  Flat on the bottom it bubbles up on the top.  It is about 6-7 inches in diameter.  The inside tastes like normal sweet bread (slightly doughy).  The crust on the outside is lightly sweetened and has a bit of a sugar cookie flavor. My Score:  ***** ; This was one of my favorite morning foods or desserts while I was in Japan.   One food item that I miss.  I love sweets and this was something that satisfied my cravings.  Eric introduced me to this in Aizu. 
Okunomiyaki:  Basically a pan cake that has all your left over's in it.  A light bread batter is made with eggs.  Vegetables, fish, and in our case bacon are all placed into the batter and stirred up.  It is then fried on a skillet and eaten with a barbecue like soy sauce. My Score:  *** ; This was pretty good.  I had it in Aizu with my brother and his wife when we wanted to get rid of all the left over's in the fridge.  It turned out better than expected, but isn't something I would like to eat every night.
Sashimi (known to Americans as Sushi:  Raw fish of all kinds wrapped up in Sushi (which is rice wrapped in seaweed).  The types of Sashimi that I saw in Japan were sea urchin, tuna, salmon, another common fish, squid, (2 kinds) shrimp, fish eggs, and egg (cooked slightly).  Each usually has a little bit of hot radish paste on it except the egg kind.  The egg is usually sweet in taste.  Sashimi is dipped in a little bit of soy sauce before eaten an some do not have seaweed wrapped around it. My Score:  **** ; I first had sashimi in Tokyo.  I tried tuna, shrimp, egg, and squid.  It all actually tasted fine, except the squid was a little chewy.  It wasn't fishy in taste as I had suspected.  Though the smell of the sushi bar that we had went to got to me.  I felt sick as I hobbled out of the place.  When I was down in Aizu I tried it again.  This time I loved it!!!
Acerola Water:  A cherry like fruit in Japan is used to flavor some water.  It is like a very watery juice, but nothing like anything tasted in America. My Score:  **** ; Very refreshing and has a sweet tangy flavor.  It doesn't leave you thirsty.  It has a red color to it and smells like skittles candy.
Karashi:  Hot yellow mustard. My Score:  PURE BLISS ; This hot mustard goes good on Anything and I mean anything.  One night I was eating some Karashi with rice and it got so hot I thought my head was going to pop.  My eyes were watering and my hands waved uncontrollably while I danced around the room.  I then sat down very quiet and content.  My brother exclaimed ,"Brady has reached enlightenment by Karashi!".  So this is the coined phrase now for this mustard.  ENLIGHTENMENT BY KARASHI!!!
Matsutake:  Very famous and expensive mushrooms.  They smell like a skunk that rolled around in mushrooms.  These are cooked in many different ways, but generally are used to make a soup. My Score:  *** ; I first saw these in a store in Aizu.  They were on sale for 60 bucks a mushroom.  Luckily Emi's family sent her some of these delightful funguses so that we could have some.  I sampled it and it tasted how it smelled.  It was good, but obviously a Japanese acquired taste.

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