Monday, July 24, 2006

Japanese food @ Nijiya

It was just too damn hot tonight to eat a full meal, so instead I dropped by my favorite Japanese market on the Westside for a light snack.

For me, shopping at Nijiya is like wandering through Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. With wide-eyed enthusiasm, I'll spend hours scanning each aisle for interesting snacks and drinks. These days, I've noticed packs of nerdy-looking white guys invading my territory. Using whatever Japanese they picked up from anime, they gather around and scrutinize the same items (like that thing on the right) to see whether it's worth trying or not. To the casual observer, that thing might look like apple juice but it's actually a diet jelly drink with konyaku and tapioca balls. It barely even contains juice (10%) which is typical for Japanese drinks. It still tasted good ... That was dinner.

My biggest reward for studying Japanese all these years is that I'm now able to decipher Japanese packaging. I know the kanji for "fat" and "carbs" and any other keywords that'll indicate whether the thing is gonna make me regret eating. While living in Japan I always had a habit of checking the nurtional facts label, so now that I'm back in LA I still do the same. Funny thing is, I noticed the labels they stick on here don't even correlate. On the Japanese label, some products might indicate 10 grams of fat, but on the U.S. label they'll put down a big fat "0". Can someone explain that to me?

I also bought tomorrow's breakfast, a pack of ochazuke seasoning. It's a mixture of shredded seaweed, crunchy rice cracker, salt and MSG. You put it in a bowl of hot water and rice and the idea is to eat it as fast as possible before the rice gets bloated. Yeah, it's not exactly ideal for hot weather but it's cheap and feels like a full meal. I looked up the website of one of the famous ochazuke brands and they have their commercials up for viewing.

Click on the picture second from the bottom on the right side for a video on how to eat ochazuke properly. The note he puts on the telephone roughly translates to "I am now ochazuke-ing. Do not disturb."
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1 comment:

cari - Inland Empirical said...

those chazuke mix packets are straight out of my childhood.
i love them. especially the nori and the salmon ones.