Monday, December 21, 2009

Japan: Tokyo Part 3

Unlike North America, it is easier to buy alcohol in Japan. You can find beer in vending machine and drink it while walking down the street Amongst the various local beer, saki, and hard liquor, I found Chilean and Argentinean wine in convenient stores for about $6-$10 dollar. In specialized wine stores, I found premium wine for dirt cheap, about a quarter the price than in Canada. The Petruvs in the picture was about $1200 CND, and it goes for no less than $3000-6000 in Canada. According to my friends, due to poor shipping and storing condition, these wines are often spoiled. What a shame. The wine cellar where this picture was taken was a collector's dream cellar. Petruvs, Opus, Hermitage, Routhschild, Dominus, just to name a few. I got more pictures if anyone is interested.

Another awesome things about Japan was their foodie culture. Every prefecture has a local speciality or two, mochi in Kyoto, okonomoyaki in Hirosima, sudachi in Tokushima, just as examples. We ran into a local dairy farmer expo in Tokushima with baby cows and free samples of dairy derived products. This picture was taken in a cafe at the Tokyo Station. This place serves dairy products source from north west of Tokyo. They had fresh milk, ice cream, cream, pudding, butter, yogurt, cream cheese, brie, camembert, wash rind, and cakes. These products comes also comes with different flavors and gift packaging. I didn't have a chance to try the cheese (I was about to take a packed train to Kyoto), but the ice cream was amazing. It was fluffier, more pure, refreshing, and sent tingling sensation down to my feet.

Before heading to Kyoto, I think the most memorable Foodie experiences I had in Tokyo were the discoveries of various small food joints in very obscure places. I remember getting lost and finding a noodle joint hidden in a corner of small and quiet alley way (then go into a smaller alley way and go up 2 floors) on a rainy day. Dennis couldn't even sit straight, because the seats were so small. Or sipping shochu at a bar in crowded smoky izukaya under the commuter train track, hidden amongst construction sites, was wonderfully romantic.

I wouldn't really recommend specific restaurants to try in Tokyo. There are a lot of fancy restaurants offering fine dinning, but we generally find the experience at those places a little underwhelming and very expensive. I would encourage travelers to try out those obscured and small restaurants. Dennis often joked that the smaller the restaurant, the better the food. Don't be afraid of places that use vending machine to order food either, and it's definitely safe to venture into back alleys to discover some local treasure.

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