Rice is honestly the key ingredient to the Japanese diet. The majority have it for three meals a day and a lot of the time, for snacks as well in senbei or onigiri form.
I came to Japan not a lover of rice, especially white rice. In my opinion, there is no nutritional value in it and is therefore not worth eating. But once you start getting really really hungry, white rice doesn’t seem so bad! I came to love it and plan to buy a new rice maker at home so I can continue to eat it.
When I did my home-stay with the Yokoyama family, they gave me this huge spread for breakfast. I ended up eating the rice with dashi and the salmon which was surprisingly delicious. The 4 year old Shō was constantly being badgered to “Eat your rice!” which I thought was funny since it’s pretty much the Japanese equivalent of the American “Eat your vegetables!”
Another Japanese rice dish I tried is called “Tamago kake gohan”, basically, rice mixed with raw egg. You take a raw egg and mix it with soy sauce and then pour it over the rice. It wasn’t bad, but not really memorable or extremely tasty.
Another way I enjoy rice is just rice with a seasoning on the top such as my favorite “Tomago and Nori” (Egg and Seaweed). It is delicious and I am bringing two packets of the stuff home for my dad and Chase!
I often eat onigiri (rice ball) for lunch most of the time accompanied with a lot of vegetables and salad (and some Calpis if I’m lucky!). I actually really enjoy the onigiri filled with salted salmon or even the ones with tuna and mayo. The great thing about onigiri is that it is so convenient. Every conbini (convenience store in Japanese) always has fresh daily onigiri for less than $2.
Noodles also play a prominent role in many meals here. Ramen, udon, soba, spaghetti, somen, ect. They love noodles. I however, do not.
This, however, is probably my favorite dish I’ve had here. Hiyashi chuuka consists of chilled ramen noodles with various toppings and is only served in the summer. Popular toppings are strips of tamagoyaki (Japanese omelet), carrot, cucumber, ginger and different meats (for people who eat that). The tare sauce is usually made from water, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, sesame seeds. Sorry I stirred most of the beautiful toppings in before I took the picture! I think this is my favorite dish because it has no fish stock in it for once!
Spa bo is a yummy appetizer of deep fried spaghetti sticks and seasoned with some sort of spicy mix. We ate it while we did karaoke at Karaoke Palace. It had a nice crunch to it yet wasn’t so filling that you felt stuffed.
Overall, I am completely surprised by how many carbohydrates the Japanese take in in a day and by how few vegetables I see them consume. =/ How do they stay so slim!?