Friday, July 30, 2010

Food Fun Friday- Octopus Balls!

One of my favorite things about living in Japan is sampling the different kinds of food!  Some things are inherantly Japanese- such as sushi and udon noodles, while other nations' cuisines have a Japanese "twist" on them, and can be suprisingly delicious! 

Sometimes we get stuck in a rut and never eat out.  Here on base the choices are limited to mostly American fast food (yuck). So to get out of the food rut we must venture off base, which lately Brother has a big problem with.  The kid would be happy to hang out  the rest of our time in Japan in this little fish bowl of a base- ugg.  But once you do get off-base- the choices are endless.  The problem is- well- trying to figure out WHAT kind of food that place makes, is that chicken or pork, or WHAT kind of fish is THAT?  Many of us find ourselves pointing to pictures- not quite sure of what we will get in return.  I have learned to point and say "kore-wa kudasai"- translated- "I would like that one please".  Sometimes I will get asked a long string of questions in Japanese, all I can do is either nod yes (hai!) or shrug my shoulders "wakarimasen?" (I don't know/understand?)

Well we have definitely gotten out of our food rut as of lately.  It has been too damn hot to cook, so going out seems to be the only option.  We have also made many trips here and there in the past few weeks- so eating out is what we do! 

Last Friday Sissy and I took the train/subway to Hiro-o (hee-ro-o) Station to pick up her modeling pay (cha-ching!)  I offered to go eat at the amazing ramen restaurant that is nearby- but like my good daughter she is- she chose Starbuckys!  I ordered a vanilla frappucino (not realizing it wasn't the coffee kind), and a slice of quiche for me, a shrimp/egg sandwich for Sissy.  The quiche was delicious and familiar.  The shrimp and egg sandwich sounds gross you say?  Actually, I helped Sissy eat it and it was VERY good.  It was like an egg salad sandwich with some small yummy shrimp thrown in for good measure.  It was surprisngly tasty and may be something I pick up again in the future.  I know Starbucks doesn't sound that exciting for those who are stateside, but when there isn't one very close to where you live, you get excited about these little things.
I know- not that exciting- but it was to me!

Sissy enjoying her shrimp/egg sandwich at Starbucks, that's my quiche of the left.

This week I have been bitten by the shopping bug.  Right now the stores are all having their summer sales- so that could be a good or bad thing- depending on how you look at it.  Wednesday Sissy and I strolled over to Vina Walk, which is in Ebina.  It is a nice little mall, conveniently placed next to the train station, as many malls are here.  Vina Walk has an Outback Steakhouse, for those who are looking for American fare.  I have been there once, it is pretty good actually.  It is pretty pricey, but actually when you factor in the tip you would have paid stateside- you end up paying the same.  Here in Japan people do not tip in restaurants, cabs, etc.  They are actually paid a decent wage and are expected to provide excellent service (which they do about 98% of the time). 

Vina Walk also has a nice food court- which is where Sissy and I headed for lunch.  We had Indian.  The guys at the Indian restaurant are so friendly and actually speak very decent English.  In this food court they use the pagers you see used in the waiting areas in restaurants.  Once your order is ready- you go pick up your food.  That gives you the chance to find a table in the mean time.  Very efficient the Japanese are!  Oh, you don't ever have to pay for water or even order it most of the time- there is a little water station available for everyone to use, I love it!

butter chicken and nan- yummm!
The next day Brother, Sissy and I went to Ayase Town Hills, which is a small sized mall in Ayase.  It is connected to Viva Home- which I can only describe as a Japanese version of Home Depot.  In the food court Brother ordered Indian (because he missed out the previous day, Sissy ordered potatoes and a pizza dog, and I ordered tako-yaki.  What is tako yaki you ask?  OCTOPUS BALLS!  But not THOSE kind of balls, it is octopus meat and dough fried up into tasty(?) balls.  I have tried them once before, but they had gotten soggy in the plastic take out container- so I thought I should give them another go.  I ordered 6 octopus balls with "cheezu" (cheese).  They used a little blow torch to melt the cheese on top.  It looked mighty tasty.  But I only was able to eat two.  It just didn't do anything for me.  I am very disappointed.  I would love to tell everyone how much I enjoy octopus balls, but that would be untruthful.
I tried, right?
Gindaco's- here is where you get y'ur Octoballs!

tako-yaki AKA Octopus balls
he loves curry too- butter chicken just like Sisy had the day before...

Sissy being silly- and an example of one restaurants' menus in the food court at Ayase Town Hills.
sorry for the blurry pic- this is the machine where we ordered Brother's curry.  These are popular in Japan.  You put in your money and make your selections.  The machine gives you tickets for the menu items you ordered, which in turn you hand to the wait staff.  It is pretty fool proof, unless nothing is in English- then it gets hard!

 fried potato faces, Sissy loves them

Thank you for joining me in my food adventures, hopefully if I have any kind of follow through at all- I'll have something new for you next Friday!


  1. I love your adventurous spirit. Food is such a great way to learn about other parts of the world. Even in Germany I've been surprised a few times by what showed up after I ordered, but that only adds to the fun.

  2. Oh I dreamed about going to Germany last Christmas- just for the food! Hubby lived in Weisbaden when he was a kid so now the way to his heart is with German food, lol.
    But IT IS an adventure ordering food in a foreign country, sometimes one must be brave! lol

  3. I love this...We are headed to Sasebo Japan in 5 months.

    I cannot for the life of me find any websites that contain photos of Sasebo Housing. It's the weirdest thing.

    I love the neat that you don't have to tip? Wow!

    My blog is a little depressing right now, just a warning! lol.

    Thanks for sharing!
    I'm following.

  4. miltaryspousetalks- thank you! I wish I had some information for you about Sasebo, it's a bit far from me I am afraid. I did read your blog and wanted to comment but I think I need a wordpress account- I need to see to that. I don't think it is depressing so much as it is alarming. Honestly- I a concerned for you- from what I have read of your blog. Have you utilized any of the resources on base? I don't know you and obviously can't understand or feel what you feel- but I do know you deserve better and I urge you to get help. If not for you- but for your children. We were stationed at Whidbey for more than 10 years- I could try and find someone that could help you if you want. You should be able to find my email under the profile. You are brave to talk about it- I think you have the courage to take the next step too.

  5. I have to give you credit for trying the octopus balls. I never could screw up the courage to do it. Seeing them made is still one of my favorite stories about Japan. blech. I loved Japanese food, otherwise, and tried a lot of interesting things (like sweet potato ice cream). Thanks for sharing. It is VERY interesting!

    My daughter and I recently tried a new Japanese restaurant in town. It was pretty bad and I had to laugh when my daughter told me "no fair comparing it to REAL Japanese food!" lol

  6. This whole post made my mouth water! Especially the Indian food!

  7. I want to come along on your food adventures! After we finish this week long head start and orientation stuff I will be knocking on your door to tag along (or in reality, emailing you)!

  8. Jes- sounds like a plan. I sent you an email last night. :)

    Sondre Lyn- I am sure I will be doing all kinds of comparisons when I get back stateside. That was funny what your daughter said!

    I need to do another food fun Friday- I do have something in the works- just very busy these days!


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