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(Fast) Food Nation: Part 1 (Stories from our trip to Japan)

(Fast) Food Nation: Part 1 (Stories from our trip to Japan)

The yen was strong and dollar was weak while we were in Japan.

Thank goodness most of our room and board was provided by my folks. My mother fed us rice, miso soup, gyoza (pan-fried Chinese dumplings), tonkatsu (breaded fried pork chops), tempura, sashimi, stewed Japanese eggplant (mmm my fav!), salad with awesome Japanese salad dressings, and such. Thanks, mom!

But we did eat out for some of the meals. The weak dollar meant we ate quite a few meals at fast food places.

The very first morning in Japan, we were staying at Sheraton Yokohama Bay (where we had a mini family reunion later in the day), and we all woke up at around 5 AM thanks to the jet lag. By 7, we were all starving, so decided to get dressed and hunt for breakfast. There were many affordable breakfast options to choose from around the hotel, but our jet-lagged brain picked McDonald’s, comfort over adventure. The Japanese McMuffin tasted fine, but different. I think it had a significantly less grease content than the American version.

Later in the day, the family reunion was at the hotel buffet restaurant. It was very fancy, and the food was pretty good, but the buffet lacked organization. Also it lacked well-defined main courses. It had a great dessert bar complete with a chocolate fondue fountain, however.

We went to the Disney Sea at Tokyo Disney Resort one day. Manpris (capri pants for men) and black leggings for women dominate the park-going fashion in Japan despite the hot weather instead of the familiar shorts and tank tops. There are so few signs in the Japanese Disney Park you have to carry a park map in order to find a bathroom. (A side note: all of the hand dryers in the bathrooms were turned off “to conserve electricity.”) But the most striking thing about the Japanese Disney Park is its snack offerings that are overwhelmingly fat free and healthy. We could not find fat-loaded ice cream in gigantic waffle cones anywhere in the park. Here is the snack most frequently spotted in the park: a Mickey Mouse-shaped frozen apple juice bar.

Convenience stores (“konbini”) are the most important institution when it comes to inexpensive eats in japan. They are practically everywhere (there are two within a 5 minute-walk from my folks’ house) and offer a vast selection of delicious ready-to-eat items. My kids got absolutely hooked on karaagekun (teriyaki-flavored chicken nuggets) from a konbini chain called Lawson. They ate Karaagekun for breakfast, lunch and snack. I am more partial to konbini’s pastry selection, however.

(To be continued)

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