Monday, March 23, 2009

Highlight #159: Going with the flow - snacking in Japan

It's terrible to find out on TV that a FedEx plane crashed on the runway of Narita airport in Tokyo. But I assure you that it's a lot worse to be told in the air that your aircraft is being rerouted to Nagoya because there is a fire on the runway where your plane is supposed to land (they didn't tell us then that the fire was from the FedEx plane). It gets even more crazy when the crew announces that despite your business class arrangement to Shanghai, you will have to go line up at the airport to figure out another way to get there and, get this, there won't be a hotel room waiting for you and even if you find one, they won't pay for it! Hmm... This is probably as bad as it gets.

So what's a girl to do once she fought her way through the crowd, waited patiently in line for a next day ticket to Shanghai (thank goodness), and even got lucky enough to score a room in Nagoya for the night (smoking, but the disparate can't be picky), she goes snacking!

First, I needed a bowl of hot ramen. Nothing like a steaming bowl of noodles to calm the nerves. This no name one room shop was not all that special, but the ramen was competently prepared to al dente and the egg was pleasantly soft in the center.

Content in the stomach, I went searching for sweets. A lack of luck in travel must have brought me luck in finding food. Without looking, I happened upon a traditional mochi shop with the short seasoned sakura mochi on display, which are only made during the cherry blossom (Sakura) season. The uniqueness of this mochi lies in that the rice is not pounded so the grains still glisten as individuals. Also the mochi is covered with a salted and preserved sakura leaf.

One bite convinced me that this is the best mochi I've ever had. The rice, despite not have been pounded, was ultra smooth and just slightly chewy. The rice layer was very well balanced against the creamy and not too sweet bean filling. The best part though was the faint saltiness of the sakura leaf that broke under the teeth like a thin preserved cabbage leaf, meaning that it was not at all mushy and had great texture against the mochi. It was so delightful, I could have eaten many more.

For variety, I also tried the regular mochi adorn with a candied strawberry. This one showed me that this shop simply turns out great mochi, regardless whether it's seasonal or not. This one again beat out all the others I've had (other than the sakura mochi above). Sweet, chewy, but not dense, it was just so wonderful to eat.

The lady serving me spoke very very little English, but assured me that the shop is very old and accomplished. Of that I had no doubt. I just need to do a bit of research on the Japanese name to figure out if I had indeed visited a famed shop.

I got a pretty lousy fifteen dollar airport coupon from NW for my 12 hours in Nagoya. Please tell me where the rest of the thousands of dollars that my firm paid for the business ticket went!!! Anyway, to spend my hard earned coupon wisely, I checked out all the possible sources and settled on the seasonal jelly gift set from Mochi Bun. Beautifully packed, I took the set to Shanghai to share with the husband, who was waiting at the gate when I arrived. Seriously, I can't remember the last time he waited for me at the gate. That was nice.

The sakura jelly was just beautiful and tasted light and refreshing with flecks of preserved leaf bits. I've really enjoyed this flower as dessert idea. Let's just hope I don't have to suffer this way to get some the next time.

Plenty more Chinese food to come in the week to come.

1 comment:

Eat, Drink, Man... said...

I am sooo jealous!