Friday, July 29, 2011

Ethnic Food in Japan

Now, another Japanese culture post! Tufugu has even more Japanese cultural bizarreness.

You’ve heard of the uncanny valley, right? When a robot is really lifelike, but just different enough to be creepy and unsettling--that’s uncanny. That’s how it feels to eat some Japanese ethnic food. It’s just... not quite right. What’s so weird about it?

Italian-Japanese Food

Pasta is kind of like noodles, so it makes sense to put shrimp and crabs in it, right? Lasagna is pretty much the same, except with the seasoning toned down to perfect blandness. And the pizza... well, as you can see, toppings at this restaurant were arranged in a sakura-blossom pattern, and the pizzas were tiny and made with minimal cheese. Patrons ate everything with chopsticks. Makes perfect sense for Japanese people, just kind of unsettling for me.

French-Japanese Food

Most bakeries in Japan have French/European influence, but with modifications for Japanese tastes. The most popular bread is snow-white and fluffy, but sourdough and cinnamon-raisin bread are available. About 90% of the bread is sweet, but there are sausage rolls (yes, including fish sausage rolls). I’m actually a big fan of anpan and melon bread. Probably the weirdest thing in Japanese bakeries is how perfectly iced the cakes are. Crepes, available from street-side vendors, are offered with the usual fillings (strawberry, chocolate, and custard) with the occasional exotic place offering savory fillings. Probably the weirdest thing about crepes is that they’ve been made into food you can eat on the go: wrapped up with a paper cone like an ice cream.

American-Japanese Food

If you ask for a hanbaagu (ハンバーグ) in a restaurant, you’ll get something that looks like the above. It’s kind of like meatloaf, and due to the insane price of beef in Japan, it’s a good way to stretch out hamburger meat. There are McDonald's in Japan, which are very popular with both adults and children; if you want an actual hamburger it’s hanbaagaa (ハンバーガー). This ad suggests that children are indeed, wild about McDonald's:

And now, for the most unexpected interpretation of an eggroll:

Yes, that’s a roll with a mashed-up boiled egg on top. Yum!

There are tons more hilarious versions of ethnic foods in Japan (soy burgers, sardine pizza, oh and no one knows what a taco is). What’s the weirdest/most uncanny ethnic food you’ve come across?


Andrea said...

Did you ever get to try a Mosburger? Aside from the funny name, it's actually pretty good -- a tiny hamburger patty in a bun made from rice like an onigiri.

Oh, and we finally tried the dried squid you got us -- it was a hit! Everyone in the family loved it. It's like squid jerky with a definite taste of the sea.

Whistler said...

I think we went to Mosburger but I didn't get the rice burger. Glad you liked the dried squid!

Anonymous said...

Some of the stuff at the Italian restaurants in Japan is more authentic to Italian food than in the U.S. though, I think your comparing the Italian food in the U.S. to Japan's which also is not exactly authentic either. For example in Japan they eat carbonara and Peperoncino, I never heard of those before I came to Japan since they don't have that available in the U.S., its not that popular in the U.S. I guess They also give you olive oil to put on your food at Italian restaurants in Japan but not in the U.S. Also in Italy the pizza's are not big and are thinner (so the Japanese thin pizza is actually correct), Italy pizzas are the size of a plate for each person so not big like American ones, and also Italian pizzas don't have much sauce and cheese just like Japanese ones, not like the American ones . Also margherita pizza is eaten in Italy but its hard to find and not popular in the U.S. but found at all the Italian restaurants in Japan. I could go on and on but its already long and I learned alot about Italian food when I moved to Japan XD