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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Turning Japanese

Dough wrapped around a sausage and steamed. And served on a small stick. The bread is stuffed with sweetened pea paste.
On a recent trip, I was unfortunately delayed in a layover in Japan. The airline billeted the passengers in the nearby hotel (Toyoko Inn) obviously designed for travelers - sort of like an airport Holiday Inn Express, which also, conveniently served free breakfast. And for those of us who have traveled often, you know what those free breakfasts are usually like - microwaved items, hot coffee, some doughnuts, you're ready to go. But Japan is a different place from our American sensibilities.

The Japanese quick breakfast consists of some pickles (eggplant here, and umeboshi - pickled plums), gluten balls simmered in mirin and dashi, and onigiri - shaped rice balls flavored with various spices, herbs and dried fish (furikake). The quality of the rice is very good. Despite it's simplicity, I really enjoyed it.

The meal is supplemented by a range of soups - I opted for the red miso soup, which was hearty, and full of umami. Coffee and green tea were available, but for me, the soup was more than sufficient. 
For those that insisted on it, there's eggs to be had. Here, scrambled eggs resemble the European ideal - very creamy, carefully stirred to have that very small curd. It wasn't too bad, but certainly not as interesting as the traditional Japanese fare.

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