Grocery Shopping at the Dollar Store

I bought these groceries from a Lawson 100円 shop. Lawson is generally a convenience store chain, but they have some Lawson Natural beauty and health stores and Lawson 100 fresh food stores scattered around Tokyo. Most 100 yen stores are pretty similar around the city, with all sorts of inexpensive household goods, but Lawson 100 is the only one I know of that also sells fresh food. I don't think I would have trusted groceries from a dollar store in the USA. Everything seemed bland, generic, and flimsy. Was I just being a snob? I love the 100 yen shops in Tokyo! It's possible that the goods are of similar quality and that I'm just dazzled by the novelty of items tailored to another culture. Or maybe the items really are better in Japan. In any case, I don't remember the American dollar stores carrying fresh meats, produce and dairy from the same brands as the regular grocery stores, whereas in Tokyo, I can get many of the same brands at both the 100 yen shop and the super. I'm going to guess that the branded packaged goods (such as dairy, snacks) are the same price or slightly discounted due to the bulk buying power of an international company, while the produce and meats are likely the better deals. Produce in Japan is held to very high standards, to the point where I almost never find a bruised fruit or vegetable at any store (even Lawson 100), and the items are very uniform in appearance. So I imagine the produce at Lawson 100 is reduced due to variance in size or color, since it's not dented or wilted like American discount produce would often be. These potatoes are pretty small, the apples are multicolored, and the onions have some black dirt or mold on the outer skin that I'll remove and rinse before cooking. I'm getting a discount in Japan for food that, in Texas at least, would be considered normal quality. Though really, I don't shop here for the prices as much as convenience. They are quite low, but I think most local grocery stores are reasonable price-wise. I love this place most of all because it is close-by, and I'm often running out at the last minute when I realize I forgot to buy a crucial ingredient for dinner. To get an idea of prices, think of 1 yen as 1 penny (meaning ¥100 is around $1.00). The exchange rate isn't 1:1, but in general, that's a good guideline for thinking about food prices, considering the relative cost of other life necessities.

I bought these groceries from a Lawson 100円 shop. Lawson is generally a convenience store chain, but they have some Lawson Natural beauty and health stores and Lawson 100 fresh food stores scattered around Tokyo. Most 100 yen stores are pretty similar around the city, with all sorts of inexpensive household goods, but Lawson 100 is the only one I know of that also sells fresh food.

I don't think I would have trusted groceries from a dollar store in the USA. Everything seemed bland, generic, and flimsy. Was I just being a snob? I love the 100 yen shops in Tokyo! It's possible that the goods are of similar quality and that I'm just dazzled by the novelty of items tailored to another culture. Or maybe the items really are better in Japan.

In any case, I don't remember the American dollar stores carrying fresh meats, produce and dairy from the same brands as the regular grocery stores, whereas in Tokyo, I can get many of the same brands at both the 100 yen shop and the super.

I'm going to guess that the branded packaged goods (such as dairy, snacks) are the same price or slightly discounted due to the bulk buying power of an international company, while the produce and meats are likely the better deals.

Produce in Japan is held to very high standards, to the point where I almost never find a bruised fruit or vegetable at any store (even Lawson 100), and the items are very uniform in appearance. So I imagine the produce at Lawson 100 is reduced due to variance in size or color, since it's not dented or wilted like American discount produce would often be. These potatoes are pretty small, the apples are multicolored, and the onions have some black dirt or mold on the outer skin that I'll remove and rinse before cooking. I'm getting a discount in Japan for food that, in Texas at least, would be considered normal quality.

Though really, I don't shop here for the prices as much as convenience. They are quite low, but I think most local grocery stores are reasonable price-wise. I love this place most of all because it is close-by, and I'm often running out at the last minute when I realize I forgot to buy a crucial ingredient for dinner.

To get an idea of prices, think of 1 yen as 1 penny (meaning ¥100 is around $1.00). The exchange rate isn't 1:1, but in general, that's a good guideline for thinking about food prices, considering the relative cost of other life necessities.

ザクッとポテト オーザック 磯のり塩 - Crunchy Potato O'Zack Nori Salt Chips - ¥108 I really enjoy the texture of O'Zack brand chips. The name is a pun on the Japanese onomatopoeia word "zakuzaku" which refers to the crunchy texture. Tanoshii Japanese explains zakuzaku as "lots of coins or jewels", "cutting up roughly", "walking on frost", "mixing gravel". Are you starting to feel the crunch? It sounds brutal, but it's pretty awesome. I know they're not cut potatoes because the bag only has chips of three shapes and sizes, so it might be a process similar to a Pringle that starts with a slurry or mash, but with a more irregular and bubbled, pocketed result like a crispy fried tortilla. The nori (seaweed) is pretty subtle. They don't taste fishy.

ザクッとポテト オーザック 磯のり塩 - Crunchy Potato O'Zack Nori Salt Chips - ¥108

I really enjoy the texture of O'Zack brand chips. The name is a pun on the Japanese onomatopoeia word "zakuzaku" which refers to the crunchy texture. Tanoshii Japanese explains zakuzaku as "lots of coins or jewels", "cutting up roughly", "walking on frost", "mixing gravel". Are you starting to feel the crunch? It sounds brutal, but it's pretty awesome.

I know they're not cut potatoes because the bag only has chips of three shapes and sizes, so it might be a process similar to a Pringle that starts with a slurry or mash, but with a more irregular and bubbled, pocketed result like a crispy fried tortilla.

The nori (seaweed) is pretty subtle. They don't taste fishy.

Hokkaido Milk - ¥124 Good ol' milk for my coffee.

Hokkaido Milk - ¥124

Good ol' milk for my coffee.

スコーン サワークリームオニオン味 - Sour Cream and Onion Flavor Scorn (??) - ¥108 日本生まれのおいしさ means "Deliciousness made/born in Japan". But I'm not sure about スコーン. This word might be pronounced scone, scorn, su-corn, or su-cone. I believe it's supposed to be su-corn, maybe short for sweet corn? But I like to imagine munching on a bag of scorn. Take that, negative attitude! They're basically Cheetos, but less cheesy with a hint of Funyuns flavor. They're quite good. Maybe not as crave-able as a classic American Cheeto (Japanese Cheetos are sweet! The horror!), but I certainly prefer this to the kick-in-the-face intensity of Funyun flavor (not to mention, Funyuns shred the top of my mouth).

スコーン サワークリームオニオン味 - Sour Cream and Onion Flavor Scorn (??) - ¥108

日本生まれのおいしさ means "Deliciousness made/born in Japan". But I'm not sure about スコーン. This word might be pronounced scone, scorn, su-corn, or su-cone. I believe it's supposed to be su-corn, maybe short for sweet corn? But I like to imagine munching on a bag of scorn. Take that, negative attitude!

They're basically Cheetos, but less cheesy with a hint of Funyuns flavor. They're quite good. Maybe not as crave-able as a classic American Cheeto (Japanese Cheetos are sweet! The horror!), but I certainly prefer this to the kick-in-the-face intensity of Funyun flavor (not to mention, Funyuns shred the top of my mouth).

Mix Salad - ¥108 Pretty much what it says. Some companies call this salad, some call it cole slaw blend. It's mostly cabbage, with a few other veggies thrown in for color. Tastes fine with any salad dressing. Raw cabbage is nice when it's cut into vermicelli size strips like this. I don't remember that being popular in America.

Mix Salad - ¥108

Pretty much what it says. Some companies call this salad, some call it cole slaw blend. It's mostly cabbage, with a few other veggies thrown in for color. Tastes fine with any salad dressing. Raw cabbage is nice when it's cut into vermicelli size strips like this. I don't remember that being popular in America.

えのきたけ - Enokitake - Enoki mushrooms - ¥108 The "take" in shiitake and enokitake means "mushroom". These long skinny mushrooms are great for nabe/hot pot/soup. They turn into chewy noodles! So if you're grain-free or whatever, see if you can find enoki. I eat them because I just love mushrooms.

えのきたけ - Enokitake - Enoki mushrooms - ¥108

The "take" in shiitake and enokitake means "mushroom". These long skinny mushrooms are great for nabe/hot pot/soup. They turn into chewy noodles! So if you're grain-free or whatever, see if you can find enoki. I eat them because I just love mushrooms.

アメリカ産豚ロース肉うす切り - American pork roast thin cut - ¥186 I've pretty much hated and avoided pork for most of my life, except for extra-processed pork like bacon and pepperoni, which I love. Pork chops, pork tenderloin, pork ribs are all TOO MUCH PORK for me. The first time I ever swore off pork was after seeing pigs dissected at a library science event when I was 6, so maybe it's psychological? I'm also way more sensitive to the smell than most people are. Even regular pork chops smell too much like body odor to me, and wild pig is worse. When I politely consented to taste the recently hunted wild boar at a barbecue party, I barely made it to the bathroom before my stomach nope'd it back up. But in Japan, pork is mostly sold in fine mince or in thin slices. I frequently eat gyoza filled with minced pork because there are so many other ingredients and flavors involved, but I've still avoided sliced pork in Japan. I finally gave it a chance when I was eating dinner in a friend's home recently, and I found it entirely delicious. It doesn't take forever to chew, and it has no porky odor. It's thin, tender, and carries other flavors very well. Now I buy it, cook it, enjoy it - even love it. I'm finally a pork-eater now Mom! It only took 30 years.

アメリカ産豚ロース肉うす切り - American pork roast thin cut - ¥186

I've pretty much hated and avoided pork for most of my life, except for extra-processed pork like bacon and pepperoni, which I love. Pork chops, pork tenderloin, pork ribs are all TOO MUCH PORK for me.

The first time I ever swore off pork was after seeing pigs dissected at a library science event when I was 6, so maybe it's psychological? I'm also way more sensitive to the smell than most people are. Even regular pork chops smell too much like body odor to me, and wild pig is worse. When I politely consented to taste the recently hunted wild boar at a barbecue party, I barely made it to the bathroom before my stomach nope'd it back up.

But in Japan, pork is mostly sold in fine mince or in thin slices.

I frequently eat gyoza filled with minced pork because there are so many other ingredients and flavors involved, but I've still avoided sliced pork in Japan. I finally gave it a chance when I was eating dinner in a friend's home recently, and I found it entirely delicious. It doesn't take forever to chew, and it has no porky odor. It's thin, tender, and carries other flavors very well. Now I buy it, cook it, enjoy it - even love it.

I'm finally a pork-eater now Mom! It only took 30 years.

じゃがいも - Potatoes - ¥108 They're little.

じゃがいも - Potatoes - ¥108

They're little.

玉ねぎ - Tamanegi - Onions - ¥108 Tamanegi means round onions or ball onions. Regular negi is what we might call welsh onion or leek.

玉ねぎ - Tamanegi - Onions - ¥108

Tamanegi means round onions or ball onions. Regular negi is what we might call welsh onion or leek.

6 Jazz Apples - ¥324 This is one of the best apple prices I've found. I usually find apples individually packed in a pastel plastic protective net and sold for ¥150 to ¥500 each. It feels decadent now to eat an apple from my hand instead of cut into slices and shared as a dessert with my husband.

6 Jazz Apples - ¥324

This is one of the best apple prices I've found. I usually find apples individually packed in a pastel plastic protective net and sold for ¥150 to ¥500 each. It feels decadent now to eat an apple from my hand instead of cut into slices and shared as a dessert with my husband.

Total ¥1,282 I think that would have been closer to ¥2,400 at another store.

Total ¥1,282

I think that would have been closer to ¥2,400 at another store.

Bonus shot of the meal I made: shougayaki (sweet pork slices with ginger and soy sauce), cabbage salad, miso soup with enoki and shiitake and onion, and delicious hot perfectly sticky rice.

Bonus shot of the meal I made:

shougayaki (sweet pork slices with ginger and soy sauce),

cabbage salad,

miso soup with enoki and shiitake and onion,

and delicious hot perfectly sticky rice.

The Suginami Ward Eifukucho Library

This one's not about groceries, sorry! But I'm putting it here because I group groceries and library together under "errands", and library books are like groceries for the brain.

This is about a trip I took to get my Japanese library card. Luckily, it was reasonably easy, what with the help of Google Translate and a librarian with some English skill.

1. Find a library. I used Google Maps to look for libraries in nearby neighborhoods. A library is called toshokan, spelled "図書館" (diagram/figure - handwriting/book - mansion/hall). Some of the search results appeared in English with photos so I knew I was actually heading for a public library, and not a university library (or a mansion inhabited by a collector of penmanship diagrams??).

2. Ask the librarian, "kaado wo tsukurimasu ka?" This literally translates to something like, "Do you/I make a card?" But it got the point across, and maybe even helped to show that I don't know much Japanese language.

3. Apply for a card. The librarian took me to a computer to complete the application. She knew a bit of English, so she was able to help me understand the basic terms of use and click my agreement. After that, I had to use the Google Translate app on my phone to understand a few of the instructions.

Luckily, I do know how to spell my name in katakana. There were two sets of "required" fields to enter my name. I selected katakana for the first set and English/romaji for the second set, but the system wouldn't accept the English alphabet (maybe they never tested that part of the interface?) so after I and two staff members also tried and failed to enter my English name, I just used katakana again.

I still can't write my full address in kanji - I keep forgetting how to write my neighborhood name! Luckily, it prompted me to search for my address by zip code and chome (city block). I did this and then added my building and unit number, then made sure it all matched the address as written on my residence card.

When I received the card, I had to write my name on it in katakana, which I'm still not great at, so I'm sure it looks like a child wrote it. Then the librarian took a few minutes to very kindly explain in slow, carefully-pronounced Japanese, the library hours and rules for checkout. She mustered a few English words whenever I screwed up my expression into a question mark. I hope I was successful in expressing the depth of my gratitude! Then I looked for a few easy-ish books, checked them out the same way I used to do in America (hand the librarian the card and the books, get them back with a due date receipt).

This all probably took about 30 minutes.

A few other things...

  • The card can only be used by the cardholder (no sharing).
  • Books checked out at any library within the ward may be returned to this library.
  • The lending period for books is two weeks.

I know there are some other important tidbits, but mostly they are standard library rules such as responsibility for replacement if you lose or damage books, and being barred from all libraries in the ward if you do not return your items on time.

And the books? Oh man, is it hard to browse in another language!

  • I grabbed one that had big pictures with few words, but it turned out to be pretty high-level stuff, like wordplay about how different kanji are written? It was very pretty and confusing. I hope to see this book again one day after I'm fluent.
  • Another one looks like a children's book about writing letters, but it's probably for older elementary kids.
  • And the last, I'm having an easier time to understand. I chose it because I understood the whole first sentence, as written in hiragana, which seemed like a good sign. It appears to be about elephants at the Ueno Zoo that I plan to see when my sister visits next week. I'm trying to make my way through the first few pages, but it's slow going. Hiragana is easy to pronounce but hard to interpret without accompanying kanji to disambiguate homophones. I'm sure it will get easier as my grammar improves!

I'll just have to keep visiting the library until I find the section with books that make sense to me. I'm hoping I'll have more luck in a section called 児童開架. (Child open rack?)

In the meantime, I'm memorizing hundreds of kanji, which has come in really handy. Even if I can't remember how to pronounce them, I can still look at signs and instructions and get a general idea of what they are talking about. Only bikes can park here, this chicken is on sale, watch out for the giant murderous crows - you know, all the important stuff.

Hooray for logographic languages!

Japanese Walmart 2017/02/18

Seiyu is a subsidiary of Walmart. They're not super-close to my home, but I have been making the trip every other month or so, because they have relatively low prices on a few stockable items like frozen broccoli and gyoza, and they have some inexpensive potato chips in American flavors that I miss. It's hard to get cheddar flavored snacks here that aren't also sweet.

To get an idea of prices, think of 1 yen as 1 penny (meaning ¥100 is around $1.00). The exchange rate isn't 1:1, but in general, that's a good guideline for thinking about food prices, considering the relative cost of other life necessities.

White, yellow, brown, green. Seiyu is apparently not my place to shop for antioxidant foods.

White, yellow, brown, green. Seiyu is apparently not my place to shop for antioxidant foods.

30 gyoza for ¥238 These are so cheap! So I usually grab two packs and several bags of broccoli to freeze. This package says "Gyoza to eat at home is the best!" and I have to say I agree. Want some gyoza? Just open the freezer. I steam-fry 6 or 8 of these with as many frozen broccoli florets and salt and pepper, then serve with a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, and red chili oil for dipping. It's really tasty fast food that doesn't spoil. Great for busy or lazy days.

30 gyoza for ¥238

These are so cheap! So I usually grab two packs and several bags of broccoli to freeze.

This package says "Gyoza to eat at home is the best!" and I have to say I agree. Want some gyoza? Just open the freezer. I steam-fry 6 or 8 of these with as many frozen broccoli florets and salt and pepper, then serve with a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, and red chili oil for dipping. It's really tasty fast food that doesn't spoil. Great for busy or lazy days.

Frozen broccoli - 250g for ¥170 Broccoli is abundant in Japan, but not as cheap as it was back home. I think Seiyu's frozen broccoli is about half the price of some of the other places I shop, so I like to stock up. I buy all of my vegetables fresh, but when I buy fresh broccoli, I never use it fast enough, and it turns yellow and funky.

Frozen broccoli - 250g for ¥170

Broccoli is abundant in Japan, but not as cheap as it was back home. I think Seiyu's frozen broccoli is about half the price of some of the other places I shop, so I like to stock up. I buy all of my vegetables fresh, but when I buy fresh broccoli, I never use it fast enough, and it turns yellow and funky.

Kaki-pi - pronounced cocky-pea - ¥198 for 6 snack packs This stuff is so good! It has little rice crackers that are shaped like persimmon seeds (kaki-no-tane), mixed with peanuts (pinatsu). I love every flavor of kakipi that I've tried, including original soy flavor. This wasabi version is spicy!

Kaki-pi - pronounced cocky-pea - ¥198 for 6 snack packs

This stuff is so good! It has little rice crackers that are shaped like persimmon seeds (kaki-no-tane), mixed with peanuts (pinatsu). I love every flavor of kakipi that I've tried, including original soy flavor. This wasabi version is spicy!

Yummy crunchy snacky goodness.

Yummy crunchy snacky goodness.

Cheesy soft mochi rice crackers, ¥178 for four snack bags Aside from sweet Cheetohs, this is the closest thing I can find to cheese puffs. And I think I like them better? Maybe? I'm pretty sure they're made from rice instead of corn, so they stick in the teeth a little more, but they have delightful light crispy texture, and the cheese is cheesy instead of sweet. I can't buy more than one bag at a time, because they will all disappear on the first day.

Cheesy soft mochi rice crackers, ¥178 for four snack bags

Aside from sweet Cheetohs, this is the closest thing I can find to cheese puffs. And I think I like them better? Maybe? I'm pretty sure they're made from rice instead of corn, so they stick in the teeth a little more, but they have delightful light crispy texture, and the cheese is cheesy instead of sweet. I can't buy more than one bag at a time, because they will all disappear on the first day.

So soft, so cheesy.

So soft, so cheesy.

I think the katakana says cole slaw salad? But it's just shredded cabbage. ¥91 for a bag, and it's dense, so i always accidentally buy twice as much as I need. Shredded cabbage is so convenient. We serve it with curry, cook it into okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), eat it with salad, top it with meat. It's an easy way to get sulphur/brassica into the diet, but we have to eat it fast - it starts to smell like sauerkraut if we don't eat it within about 24-36 hours. 

I think the katakana says cole slaw salad? But it's just shredded cabbage. ¥91 for a bag, and it's dense, so i always accidentally buy twice as much as I need.

Shredded cabbage is so convenient. We serve it with curry, cook it into okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), eat it with salad, top it with meat. It's an easy way to get sulphur/brassica into the diet, but we have to eat it fast - it starts to smell like sauerkraut if we don't eat it within about 24-36 hours. 

¥157 for five delicious fishes! I admit I didn't know what this fish was when we bought it or when we ate it. But we put it in the little Japanese kitchen grill, as-is, and it was delicious! Now I know that it is "true aji" or horse mackerel. Salty and oily and so tasty. I hope I never have to eat whole fish in public. I try so hard to use my chopsticks, and I've watched instructional videos for fish and chopsticks etiquette - that's really a thing, and there's even a kids game where you can practice with plastic fish. But I always make a mess, and it takes too long, and I get hungry and give up and eat it with my fingers. Maybe I should buy that game...

¥157 for five delicious fishes!

I admit I didn't know what this fish was when we bought it or when we ate it. But we put it in the little Japanese kitchen grill, as-is, and it was delicious! Now I know that it is "true aji" or horse mackerel. Salty and oily and so tasty.

I hope I never have to eat whole fish in public. I try so hard to use my chopsticks, and I've watched instructional videos for fish and chopsticks etiquette - that's really a thing, and there's even a kids game where you can practice with plastic fish. But I always make a mess, and it takes too long, and I get hungry and give up and eat it with my fingers. Maybe I should buy that game...

Tofu - ¥89 It's cheap protein, but I don't know many way to prepare it yet. I still haven't taken the time to learn how to read the difference between firm and silky tofu, because I really don't care. I just want to cut it into little chunks and put it in my breakfast miso with seaweed and tuna shavings.

Tofu - ¥89

It's cheap protein, but I don't know many way to prepare it yet.

I still haven't taken the time to learn how to read the difference between firm and silky tofu, because I really don't care. I just want to cut it into little chunks and put it in my breakfast miso with seaweed and tuna shavings.

Spinach gomaae (sesame-dressed) - ¥198 for a pack with about 2-3 servings This is my favorite prepared vegetable side dish in Japan. It's not something I've ever ordered at a restaurant, but it's exactly what I want to eat when I'm grabbing dinner on the way home from the train station. It's blanched spinach mixed with sesame seeds, dashi, sugar and soy sauce. So good. I've learned to make it at home, but the results are always different (I should probably take the time to bookmark a good recipe), so I still buy it about once a week.

Spinach gomaae (sesame-dressed) - ¥198 for a pack with about 2-3 servings

This is my favorite prepared vegetable side dish in Japan. It's not something I've ever ordered at a restaurant, but it's exactly what I want to eat when I'm grabbing dinner on the way home from the train station. It's blanched spinach mixed with sesame seeds, dashi, sugar and soy sauce. So good. I've learned to make it at home, but the results are always different (I should probably take the time to bookmark a good recipe), so I still buy it about once a week.

Plain old potatoes - 4 medium-sized for ¥197 Usually goes into the curry, but I recently started making a potato and onion miso to go with dinner sometimes.

Plain old potatoes - 4 medium-sized for ¥197

Usually goes into the curry, but I recently started making a potato and onion miso to go with dinner sometimes.

Eggs - ¥235 for 10 Eggs, so many eggs. Every day, so many ways. Well, usually fried, or soft-boiled and marinated in a soy sauce/mirin/water mix. But yeah, we often eat 20-30 a week between the two of us because they're so cheap and easy. Actually, they're maybe not as cheap as eggs in America. I think they're ¥200-230 for a 10-pack here and $2.00-$2.25 for a 12-pack in America. So, similar-ish. They're still one of the least expensive animal protein sources around here. Eggs, fish, and pork seem to be the winners in that department.

Eggs - ¥235 for 10

Eggs, so many eggs. Every day, so many ways. Well, usually fried, or soft-boiled and marinated in a soy sauce/mirin/water mix. But yeah, we often eat 20-30 a week between the two of us because they're so cheap and easy.

Actually, they're maybe not as cheap as eggs in America. I think they're ¥200-230 for a 10-pack here and $2.00-$2.25 for a 12-pack in America. So, similar-ish. They're still one of the least expensive animal protein sources around here. Eggs, fish, and pork seem to be the winners in that department.

Quick Grocery Trip 2017/01/26

There is a Japanese word sanpo (散歩: scatter+walk) which is a stroll, or as husband says, a walk without purpose. I still get anxious about taking a walk for no reason, which I think is leftover from having lived in a couple of places where anyone who doesn't drive is either just so weird omg or actually in danger. So even though I live in one of the most safe and pedestrian-friendly places in the whole wide world, I often have to decide on a destination before I can convince myself to take a walk.

So I end up making lots of small trips to the grocery store. Sometimes I even save items on my list for a later trip. After talking to some other expats here and abroad, it sounds like this pattern of small-trip shopping is not unusual, and Americans are the weirdos who buy carloads once a month.

A short grocery list, but a good excuse to take a walk today.

A short grocery list, but a good excuse to take a walk today.

小葱 - Small (young?) green onion - ¥100 Don't be fooled by "small". It's literally as long as my arm and oddly reminds me of the "cat o' nine tails" that you might see at a renaissance festival. I believe this is really young leek (or young welsh onion).

小葱 - Small (young?) green onion - ¥100

Don't be fooled by "small". It's literally as long as my arm and oddly reminds me of the "cat o' nine tails" that you might see at a renaissance festival. I believe this is really young leek (or young welsh onion).

木綿とうふ2コパック - cotton tofu 2-pack - ¥98 Will it be soft? Firm? It's always a crap-shoot when I'm choosing tofu. I have yet to dive deep into the world bean curd. I really like the tofu skins that I've tried though - those seem to be deep fried pockets, kind of like pita but more fatty (aka satisfying).

木綿とうふ2コパック - cotton tofu 2-pack - ¥98

Will it be soft? Firm? It's always a crap-shoot when I'm choosing tofu. I have yet to dive deep into the world bean curd. I really like the tofu skins that I've tried though - those seem to be deep fried pockets, kind of like pita but more fatty (aka satisfying).

ゴールデンカレー辛口 - Golden Curry Spicy-Hot - ¥198 I grabbed this in case some of the other weird curry/gravy variants I previously purchased turn out too strange. If so, I'll toss in one of these packs and see if it improves the flavor. It worked for the Golden Hayashi Rice - Scott loved it, but I think I remember it tasting like tomato and cardamom... not my favorite.

ゴールデンカレー辛口 - Golden Curry Spicy-Hot - ¥198

I grabbed this in case some of the other weird curry/gravy variants I previously purchased turn out too strange. If so, I'll toss in one of these packs and see if it improves the flavor. It worked for the Golden Hayashi Rice - Scott loved it, but I think I remember it tasting like tomato and cardamom... not my favorite.

I bought all that stuff to go with this mapo doufu kit sauce we got at Costco. This spicy dish can be translated as "pockmarked grandma's beancurd". Doesn't that sound appetizing?! (UPDATE: Did not like! It made my mouth burn in a completely new and unpleasant way, and the flavor was weird. I'm guessing maybe I just don't like this brand, though? Mapo doufu is such a popular dish! I think I'll have to find a good Chinese restaurant to try the real thing.)

I bought all that stuff to go with this mapo doufu kit sauce we got at Costco. This spicy dish can be translated as "pockmarked grandma's beancurd". Doesn't that sound appetizing?!

(UPDATE: Did not like! It made my mouth burn in a completely new and unpleasant way, and the flavor was weird. I'm guessing maybe I just don't like this brand, though? Mapo doufu is such a popular dish! I think I'll have to find a good Chinese restaurant to try the real thing.)

イヤルミルクチィ - Royal Milk Tea - ¥98 And I got my trusty 'ol Royal Milk Tea. When I still crave a caffeine pickmeup after my coffee cutoff time, I go for this delicious, sweet, slightly-less-caffeinated drink. I am not sure how to pronounce 紅茶花伝 (maybe kochahanaden?). The four characters are: Crimson, tea, flower and Transmission. The first two together mean black tea (koucha), and flower makes sense, but that last character is like, wow. What does "transmission / intermediary / influence / good offices / connections / someone to trust / go-between / pull" have to do with my tea? i'm going to imagine that it really is Japanese for Trusty Ol' Tea.

イヤルミルクチィ - Royal Milk Tea - ¥98

And I got my trusty 'ol Royal Milk Tea. When I still crave a caffeine pickmeup after my coffee cutoff time, I go for this delicious, sweet, slightly-less-caffeinated drink.

I am not sure how to pronounce 紅茶花伝 (maybe kochahanaden?). The four characters are: Crimson, tea, flower and Transmission. The first two together mean black tea (koucha), and flower makes sense, but that last character is like, wow. What does "transmission / intermediary / influence / good offices / connections / someone to trust / go-between / pull" have to do with my tea? i'm going to imagine that it really is Japanese for Trusty Ol' Tea.

¥533 total with ¥2 discount for carrying my own reusable grocery bag. At the top is an announcement that every Wednesday is a good day because it is a 5X points day. If we do get a grocery point card, it will probably be for this store, because they have the best balance of price, selection and location for us. Eeeeevery retail shop seems to have their own point card, and we are being super choosy so that our wallets don't get bloated with plastic. I wish we could get a WAON point card, because we hear that the machine barks when you swipe the card - but alas, the stores that use that card are not so close to us. The only card I carry regularly is the Bic Camera card, which has gotten us some nice stuff. All the appliances we bought at move-in got us enough points for a free copy of the new Zelda game! Unrelated: Japan doesn't have separate taxation rates for different merchandise like many places in the USA do (groceries not taxed, prepared food taxed, etc). Goods/merchandise, food service, utities are all taxed at 8%.

¥533 total with ¥2 discount for carrying my own reusable grocery bag.

At the top is an announcement that every Wednesday is a good day because it is a 5X points day. If we do get a grocery point card, it will probably be for this store, because they have the best balance of price, selection and location for us.

Eeeeevery retail shop seems to have their own point card, and we are being super choosy so that our wallets don't get bloated with plastic. I wish we could get a WAON point card, because we hear that the machine barks when you swipe the card - but alas, the stores that use that card are not so close to us. The only card I carry regularly is the Bic Camera card, which has gotten us some nice stuff. All the appliances we bought at move-in got us enough points for a free copy of the new Zelda game!

Unrelated: Japan doesn't have separate taxation rates for different merchandise like many places in the USA do (groceries not taxed, prepared food taxed, etc). Goods/merchandise, food service, utities are all taxed at 8%.

Grocery Haul 2017/01/06

This was a big grocery trip in anticipation of a boardgame day, because I promised to make ramen for our guests. More on that after the groceries...

This was a big grocery trip in anticipation of a boardgame day, because I promised to make ramen for our guests. More on that after the groceries...

Because I purchased so many items, I carried them home in this rolling bag, which we call the Nonny Cart. It is lovingly named for a similar cart that my husband's mother, who we call Nonny, used to carry her groceries when they lived in London. It opens to about 3 feet tall, is lightweight, and folds up so that I can carry to the grocery store in my shoulder bag. It's especially convenient for when I go buy a months worth of meat and dairy from Niku no Hanamasa.

Because I purchased so many items, I carried them home in this rolling bag, which we call the Nonny Cart. It is lovingly named for a similar cart that my husband's mother, who we call Nonny, used to carry her groceries when they lived in London. It opens to about 3 feet tall, is lightweight, and folds up so that I can carry to the grocery store in my shoulder bag. It's especially convenient for when I go buy a months worth of meat and dairy from Niku no Hanamasa.

農場直送 たまご L 2 X 単 270 - Farm direct delivery egg, Large, 2 X Single, 270 yen - ¥ 540 Eggs. So many eggs. We eat at least this many every week. Over easy on rice, maple syrup scrambled, and shoyu (soy sauce) marinated are the most common ways we eat them. So simple and awesome for any meal.

農場直送 たまご L 2 X 単 270 - Farm direct delivery egg, Large, 2 X Single, 270 yen - ¥ 540

Eggs. So many eggs. We eat at least this many every week. Over easy on rice, maple syrup scrambled, and shoyu (soy sauce) marinated are the most common ways we eat them. So simple and awesome for any meal.

濃 シチュー キャロット - Concentrated stew carrot - ¥ 198 濃い シチュー クリーム - Dense stew cream - ¥ 198 濃い シチュー ビーフ - Dense stew beef - ¥ 198 Notice that if you don't add a い after the 濃, it just means concentrated (says Google anyhow). It's a subtle difference in English, but I wonder if it is stronger in Japanese? Or if it was a mistake? Or maybe it's the same meaning but not uniform because it was entered into inventory on different occasions or by different people? (Seriously, I can't not consider this kind of stuff. Grocery nerd. Inventory brain. Too many years in retail.) I couldn’t understand 濃 while I was at the store, but ツチューキャロット is pronounced “shi-chu-u-kya-ro-tto” (sound it out: stew carrot), so I had a good idea of what this was. It has been immeasurably helpful to know how to read the katakana alphabet, as many packages have a few key words written in katakana. The katakana alphabet is made up of the same sounds as the regular hiragana alphabet, but it is used for unusual words: non-Japanese, onomotopoeia, scientific terms, etc. Today I was able to read that the new free item on my phone bill is テザリング, pronounced "te-za-ri-n-gu" (sound it out: tethering) for my devices. (Further language lesson: tethering is geekspeak that refers to turning my phone into a wifi hotspot). If you like anime or if you ever shop at markets that carry Japanese ingredients, I recommend learning katakana. If you speak English, you already know most of the words, and now you will be able to read them! 2017/2/28 update: These gravy kits are decent. The blue one is cheesy, but it's the odd sweet cheesiness typical of the Japanese palate. It is my least favorite of the three (though not inedible). The brown one was unmemorable. I cannot even remember eating it, but it's not in the pantry, so I must have cooked it. And it must have been tasty enough, or I would recall how bad it was. The orange one was the winner. Carroty and creamy. I believe I added carrots, broccoli, potato and chicken. The leftovers were also good. I admit this is not gourmet food. More like mac and cheese from a cardboard box.

濃 シチュー キャロット - Concentrated stew carrot - ¥ 198
濃い シチュー クリーム - Dense stew cream - ¥ 198
濃い シチュー ビーフ - Dense stew beef - ¥ 198

Notice that if you don't add a い after the 濃, it just means concentrated (says Google anyhow). It's a subtle difference in English, but I wonder if it is stronger in Japanese? Or if it was a mistake? Or maybe it's the same meaning but not uniform because it was entered into inventory on different occasions or by different people? (Seriously, I can't not consider this kind of stuff. Grocery nerd. Inventory brain. Too many years in retail.)

I couldn’t understand 濃 while I was at the store, but ツチューキャロット is pronounced “shi-chu-u-kya-ro-tto” (sound it out: stew carrot), so I had a good idea of what this was. It has been immeasurably helpful to know how to read the katakana alphabet, as many packages have a few key words written in katakana. The katakana alphabet is made up of the same sounds as the regular hiragana alphabet, but it is used for unusual words: non-Japanese, onomotopoeia, scientific terms, etc. Today I was able to read that the new free item on my phone bill is テザリング, pronounced "te-za-ri-n-gu" (sound it out: tethering) for my devices. (Further language lesson: tethering is geekspeak that refers to turning my phone into a wifi hotspot). If you like anime or if you ever shop at markets that carry Japanese ingredients, I recommend learning katakana. If you speak English, you already know most of the words, and now you will be able to read them!

2017/2/28 update: These gravy kits are decent. The blue one is cheesy, but it's the odd sweet cheesiness typical of the Japanese palate. It is my least favorite of the three (though not inedible). The brown one was unmemorable. I cannot even remember eating it, but it's not in the pantry, so I must have cooked it. And it must have been tasty enough, or I would recall how bad it was. The orange one was the winner. Carroty and creamy. I believe I added carrots, broccoli, potato and chicken. The leftovers were also good. I admit this is not gourmet food. More like mac and cheese from a cardboard box.

フラワー 粉 - Flour powder - ¥ 168 日清 Nissin (brand name) フラワー Flour (this is written in katakana, pronounced "fu-ra-waa") 薄力小麦粉 Cake Flour (薄 thin/weak/dilute; 力 power; 小 small; 麦 wheat; 粉 powder) "Small wheat powder" is flour, and if it is "weak power", it is low gluten. Tada! Low-gluten flour. For cakes and stuff.

フラワー 粉 - Flour powder - ¥ 168

日清 Nissin (brand name)
フラワー Flour (this is written in katakana, pronounced "fu-ra-waa")
薄力小麦粉 Cake Flour (薄 thin/weak/dilute; 力 power; 小 small; 麦 wheat; 粉 powder)

"Small wheat powder" is flour, and if it is "weak power", it is low gluten. Tada! Low-gluten flour. For cakes and stuff.

とんかつ ソース - Tonkatsu sauce - ¥ 308 Yuuuuuuuuuum. Bulldog makes a few sauces, but this “vegetable and fruit” sauce (that's what it's made with, not what you put it on) is their original bestseller. Tonkotsu is pork bone and Americans usually hear it in reference to pork bone broth; tonkatsu is pork katsu (fried cutlet). Tonkatsu sauce is a "Japanese Worcestershire-style sauce" marketed chiefly as a topping for pork katsu, but served with a variety of savory foods. I am not fond of pork, but this sauce is so so tasty that I will eat it on any breaded fried meat, drizzled on a soft boiled egg with rice, or mixed into Japanese curry for extra flavor.

とんかつ ソース - Tonkatsu sauce - ¥ 308

Yuuuuuuuuuum. Bulldog makes a few sauces, but this “vegetable and fruit” sauce (that's what it's made with, not what you put it on) is their original bestseller. Tonkotsu is pork bone and Americans usually hear it in reference to pork bone broth; tonkatsu is pork katsu (fried cutlet). Tonkatsu sauce is a "Japanese Worcestershire-style sauce" marketed chiefly as a topping for pork katsu, but served with a variety of savory foods. I am not fond of pork, but this sauce is so so tasty that I will eat it on any breaded fried meat, drizzled on a soft boiled egg with rice, or mixed into Japanese curry for extra flavor.

万上芳醇本 みりん - something something Real Mirin - ¥ 227 The first part might be yoshi moshi, or maybe banjo houju? Neither seem to mean anything, so I bet it's the brand name. Mirin is also known as rice wine or sweet sake for cooking. I often cook with this - it’s nice with soy sauce for seasoning chicken, thin beef strips or vegetables, and it is often used in teriyaki sauce. It’s kind of like simple syrup with an alcoholic kick. You could sip it, but it's seriously sweet, like a very thick moscat wine or sherry. Not a habit-forming substance, I think. 本みりん (honmirin, “real mirin”) is made mostly of rice with added sugars, and it tastes like liqueur. There are others (like mirinfuuchoumiryou, "mirin style seasoning") whose primary ingredient is syrup, and may include salt and various other things that would make it suitable only for cooking. Though if it’s not delicious, I don’t see the point in cooking with it anyhow. The first time I bought mirin was at a chinese grocery in Louisiana, and it had the noxious-fume-death-scent of Super-Elastic-Bubble-Plastic. I only tried using it a few times before deciding I would really rather stay alive.

万上芳醇本 みりん - something something Real Mirin - ¥ 227

The first part might be yoshi moshi, or maybe banjo houju? Neither seem to mean anything, so I bet it's the brand name.

Mirin is also known as rice wine or sweet sake for cooking. I often cook with this - it’s nice with soy sauce for seasoning chicken, thin beef strips or vegetables, and it is often used in teriyaki sauce. It’s kind of like simple syrup with an alcoholic kick. You could sip it, but it's seriously sweet, like a very thick moscat wine or sherry. Not a habit-forming substance, I think.

本みりん (honmirin, “real mirin”) is made mostly of rice with added sugars, and it tastes like liqueur. There are others (like mirinfuuchoumiryou, "mirin style seasoning") whose primary ingredient is syrup, and may include salt and various other things that would make it suitable only for cooking. Though if it’s not delicious, I don’t see the point in cooking with it anyhow.

The first time I bought mirin was at a chinese grocery in Louisiana, and it had the noxious-fume-death-scent of Super-Elastic-Bubble-Plastic. I only tried using it a few times before deciding I would really rather stay alive.

キャノーラ 油 - Canola oil - ¥ 298 This one was easy to pick off the shelf. キャノーラ is pronounced "kya-no-o-ra", canola; 油 is oil. In the USA we are taught by alternative health gurus that canola oil equals death (toxic pesticides, ewwwwwww), but the quality of the groceries is so high here that I’m gonna go ahead and trust the canola oil. Tangent: I also sometimes cook with a cheap teflon pan that I bought for ¥100, and that is /definitely/ deadly. But only to birds. And slightly toxic to humans, who may experience flu-like symptoms. And only at temperatures higher than I cook with. (I’ll have my food unblackened, thank you.) Plus, my stove top freaks out and turns off if it detects CO2, so I keep the windows open when I cook and am basically incapable of burning our meals. ★♫The more you know♫★

キャノーラ 油 - Canola oil - ¥ 298

This one was easy to pick off the shelf. キャノーラ is pronounced "kya-no-o-ra", canola; 油 is oil.

In the USA we are taught by alternative health gurus that canola oil equals death (toxic pesticides, ewwwwwww), but the quality of the groceries is so high here that I’m gonna go ahead and trust the canola oil.

Tangent: I also sometimes cook with a cheap teflon pan that I bought for ¥100, and that is /definitely/ deadly. But only to birds. And slightly toxic to humans, who may experience flu-like symptoms. And only at temperatures higher than I cook with. (I’ll have my food unblackened, thank you.) Plus, my stove top freaks out and turns off if it detects CO2, so I keep the windows open when I cook and am basically incapable of burning our meals. ★♫The more you know♫★

すり たて むきごま - Freshly picked Mugimoto ???? - ¥ 379 Let's try that Google translation one more time. Suritatemukigoma (すりたてむきごま) apparently means “freshly baked white sesame”. It is often eaten with tonkatsu, or over a delicious blanched spinach dish with sesame oil. This smells like peanut butter when I grind it.

すり たて むきごま - Freshly picked Mugimoto ???? - ¥ 379

Let's try that Google translation one more time. Suritatemukigoma (すりたてむきごま) apparently means “freshly baked white sesame”. It is often eaten with tonkatsu, or over a delicious blanched spinach dish with sesame oil. This smells like peanut butter when I grind it.

大関 ワン カップ 上撰 - Ozeki One Cup Superstar - ¥ 216 Superstar?! Why yes, yes I am. Or maybe 上撰 (up, selection) should be translated as "superior". Anyhow, I love this stuff. I cook with it. I chill with it. I wonder how it is perceived by locals. (A nice standard? Or cheap swill, a la natty lite?)

大関 ワン カップ 上撰 - Ozeki One Cup Superstar - ¥ 216

Superstar?! Why yes, yes I am. Or maybe 上撰 (up, selection) should be translated as "superior". Anyhow, I love this stuff. I cook with it. I chill with it. I wonder how it is perceived by locals. (A nice standard? Or cheap swill, a la natty lite?)

ふっくら パン 強力粉 - Plump bread strong flour - ¥ 268 ふっくら (fukkura) means plump; パン is katakana "pa-n", which I assume is borrowed from Spanish or another romanic language; 強力粉 is strong (high gluten) flour. You usually don’t find “all-purpose” flour here. Cake flour (low-gluten) and bread flour (high-gluten) are common, though, and you can blend them to get a good noodle flour (medium gluten).

ふっくら パン 強力粉 - Plump bread strong flour - ¥ 268

ふっくら (fukkura) means plump; パン is katakana "pa-n", which I assume is borrowed from Spanish or another romanic language; 強力粉 is strong (high gluten) flour.

You usually don’t find “all-purpose” flour here. Cake flour (low-gluten) and bread flour (high-gluten) are common, though, and you can blend them to get a good noodle flour (medium gluten).

ブロッコリー - Broccoli - ¥ 340 Katakana again, hooray! ブロッコリー is pronounced "bu-rok-ko-rii".

ブロッコリー - Broccoli - ¥ 340

Katakana again, hooray! ブロッコリー is pronounced "bu-rok-ko-rii".

九条 ねぎ スライス ¥ 122 - Kujo noodles slice - ¥ 122 Another botched Google translation. (They tried so hard, though!) These are kujo leek slices. 九条 is kujo, a variety of leek specific to the Kyoto region; ねぎ is negi, the leek itself, like a welsh onion; スライス is katakana "su-ra-i-su", slice. Machines have a heckuva time translating Japanese. Words spelled out in hiragana can have multiple meanings depending on the context. (Nori is seaweed... or glue. Negi can apparently mean leek or noodle. Kaeru means a million things.) Katakana spellings may refer to multiple things (fu ra wa - is that flour or flower? ko-o-to... coat or court? tu-rak-ku... truck or track? lo-su can mean either loss or los angeles) And to make it even harder, the pronunciation of kanji characters completely changes depending on context. (Whhaaaaat?? Yes, really. Find out more in this amazing and highly entertaining writeup of the myths, facts, history, and stumbling blocks of Japanese language.)

九条 ねぎ スライス ¥ 122 - Kujo noodles slice - ¥ 122

Another botched Google translation. (They tried so hard, though!) These are kujo leek slices.

九条 is kujo, a variety of leek specific to the Kyoto region; ねぎ is negi, the leek itself, like a welsh onion; スライス is katakana "su-ra-i-su", slice.

Machines have a heckuva time translating Japanese. Words spelled out in hiragana can have multiple meanings depending on the context. (Nori is seaweed... or glue. Negi can apparently mean leek or noodle. Kaeru means a million things.) Katakana spellings may refer to multiple things (fu ra wa - is that flour or flower? ko-o-to... coat or court? tu-rak-ku... truck or track? lo-su can mean either loss or los angeles)

And to make it even harder, the pronunciation of kanji characters completely changes depending on context. (Whhaaaaat?? Yes, really. Find out more in this amazing and highly entertaining writeup of the myths, facts, history, and stumbling blocks of Japanese language.)

玉葱 - Onion - ¥ 198 玉 - ball (tama); 葱 - onion (negi). Voila, round onion. Because if you just ask someone for negi, they'll probably give you a two-foot long behemoth of a leek. See, this is funny. I usually see negi written out as ねぎ, but here it has its own kanji, 葱. If they used the kanji all the time, the meaning would not be ambiguous, and I wouldn't be wondering what those green onion slices have to do with noodles. On the other hand, native speakers can figure out what ねぎ means based on context, and ain't nobody got time or reason to learn all the kanji. Japanese primary and secondary school students are required to learn 2,136 kanji, and "the total number of kanji is well over 50,000, though few if any native speakers know anywhere near this number."

玉葱 - Onion - ¥ 198

玉 - ball (tama); 葱 - onion (negi). Voila, round onion. Because if you just ask someone for negi, they'll probably give you a two-foot long behemoth of a leek.

See, this is funny. I usually see negi written out as ねぎ, but here it has its own kanji, 葱. If they used the kanji all the time, the meaning would not be ambiguous, and I wouldn't be wondering what those green onion slices have to do with noodles.

On the other hand, native speakers can figure out what ねぎ means based on context, and ain't nobody got time or reason to learn all the kanji. Japanese primary and secondary school students are required to learn 2,136 kanji, and "the total number of kanji is well over 50,000, though few if any native speakers know anywhere near this number."

ゴールド ブレンド 替え - quiz time, you figure it out - ¥ 798 More katakana! Hooray! I'll spell the letters out in romaji (English letters), and you can try reading it for yourself this time. ゴールド ブレンド says "go-o-ru-do bu-re-n-do". Did you get it? There's a pretty big hint in the photo. 替え here means change, or refill. And check out the perfect way they engineered the containers for easy refilling!

ゴールド ブレンド 替え - quiz time, you figure it out - ¥ 798

More katakana! Hooray! I'll spell the letters out in romaji (English letters), and you can try reading it for yourself this time. ゴールド ブレンド says "go-o-ru-do bu-re-n-do". Did you get it? There's a pretty big hint in the photo.

替え here means change, or refill. And check out the perfect way they engineered the containers for easy refilling!

Peel off the green paper, punch the perforated lines in the plastic, and push them down to reveal a funnel that fits snugly onto the glass jar. Imagine my delight in learning that I'll never accidentally dump instant coffee granules on the floor again, only to find later that I didn't sweep all of them up, and the remaining bits have subsequently been humidified, transforming into brown dye on the edges of the floor tile. What, you don't have this problem too? Well, anyhow, these designers think of everything.

Peel off the green paper, punch the perforated lines in the plastic, and push them down to reveal a funnel that fits snugly onto the glass jar.

Imagine my delight in learning that I'll never accidentally dump instant coffee granules on the floor again, only to find later that I didn't sweep all of them up, and the remaining bits have subsequently been humidified, transforming into brown dye on the edges of the floor tile. What, you don't have this problem too? Well, anyhow, these designers think of everything.

濃厚 にんにく 鶏白湯鍋 - Rich garlic chicken hot water hotpot - ¥ 248 Rich garlic chicken hot water hotpot. Pretty much sums it up. Garlic chicken broth for hot pot. Though I've just been using it for stove top soups. 

濃厚 にんにく 鶏白湯鍋 - Rich garlic chicken hot water hotpot - ¥ 248

Rich garlic chicken hot water hotpot. Pretty much sums it up. Garlic chicken broth for hot pot. Though I've just been using it for stove top soups. 

とんこつ しょうゆ 鍋 - Tonkotsu shoyu hotpot - ¥ 278 If you've read the other items from this list, then by now you should know what tonkotsu, shoyu and hotpot mean.

とんこつ しょうゆ 鍋 - Tonkotsu shoyu hotpot - ¥ 278

If you've read the other items from this list, then by now you should know what tonkotsu, shoyu and hotpot mean.

S & B アンチョビ ボテト - S & B Anchovy Potato - ¥ 111 ポテト チーズカレー 味 - Potato cheese curry flavor - ¥ 111 きゅうりのソムタム - Cucumber Somutamu - ¥ 100 These S&B seasoning packets are cheap and handy. I buy a few every month and keep them in the cabinet for days when I have meat to cook but no inspiration. So a potato seasoning might end up on chicken or shrimp instead. Som tam is a thai term, literally meaning papaya salad, but you can apparently call other salads "som tam" if you lightly beat the vegetables to release their juices. Update: I definitely didn't follow the instructions for anchovy potato. I made home fries and sprinkled the seasoning on top. Still delicious.    

S & B アンチョビ ボテト - S & B Anchovy Potato - ¥ 111
ポテト チーズカレー 味 - Potato cheese curry flavor - ¥ 111
きゅうりのソムタム - Cucumber Somutamu - ¥ 100

These S&B seasoning packets are cheap and handy. I buy a few every month and keep them in the cabinet for days when I have meat to cook but no inspiration. So a potato seasoning might end up on chicken or shrimp instead.

Som tam is a thai term, literally meaning papaya salad, but you can apparently call other salads "som tam" if you lightly beat the vegetables to release their juices.

Update: I definitely didn't follow the instructions for anchovy potato. I made home fries and sprinkled the seasoning on top. Still delicious.

 

 

ウーシャンフェン FAUCHON 五香粉 - Chinese Five Spice Powder - ¥ 324 I needed five spice for a broth recipe, so I had to rely on my almost nonexistent French to find this item. Cinq epices chinois was close enough to "cinco spices chineses" for me. ウーシャンフェン is "wu-u-shan-fen", definitely not English. The katakana is used here because 五香粉 is not Japanese, but Chinese: "wu xiang fen".

ウーシャンフェン FAUCHON 五香粉 - Chinese Five Spice Powder - ¥ 324

I needed five spice for a broth recipe, so I had to rely on my almost nonexistent French to find this item. Cinq epices chinois was close enough to "cinco spices chineses" for me. ウーシャンフェン is "wu-u-shan-fen", definitely not English. The katakana is used here because 五香粉 is not Japanese, but Chinese: "wu xiang fen".

卓上 ゃきしお - Desk lamps ¥ 228 Hahaha, I love these translations. I can't really decipher this one, so I'm going to assume 卓上 ゃきしお means "table salt". (卓上 is "desktop," so that's close enough, and しお means "salt", but ゃきしお means "care"...? And I'm not sure why there is a lamp involved. Google Translate, bless your heart. I appreciate all of your other help.)

卓上 ゃきしお - Desk lamps ¥ 228

Hahaha, I love these translations. I can't really decipher this one, so I'm going to assume 卓上 ゃきしお means "table salt". (卓上 is "desktop," so that's close enough, and しお means "salt", but ゃきしお means "care"...? And I'm not sure why there is a lamp involved. Google Translate, bless your heart. I appreciate all of your other help.)

モラド にんにく - Morado garlic - ¥ 128 モラド is "mo-ra-do", Spanish for purple. にんにく is "ni-n-ni-ku" and means garlic. Easy.

モラド にんにく - Morado garlic - ¥ 128

モラド is "mo-ra-do", Spanish for purple. にんにく is "ni-n-ni-ku" and means garlic. Easy.

緑豆 もやし 200g ¥ 46 - Mung bean sprouts 200 g ¥ 46 緑 and 豆 taken separately are "green" and "bean", but green bean means mung bean in Japanese. I think the mung bean is perhaps a more fitting bean to call the "green bean". もやし is "mo-ya-shi", "bean sprouts".

緑豆 もやし 200g ¥ 46 - Mung bean sprouts 200 g ¥ 46

緑 and 豆 taken separately are "green" and "bean", but green bean means mung bean in Japanese. I think the mung bean is perhaps a more fitting bean to call the "green bean". もやし is "mo-ya-shi", "bean sprouts".

JA 長野 ぶなしめじ - JA Nagano Bunashimeji - ¥ 158 Buna shimeji mushrooms. Brown beech mushrooms. Brown clamshell mushrooms. I love to fry these up with ... um ... a green bok-choy-like vegetable that I don't know the name of ... and eat them with eggs. I eat mushrooms pretty much every day now that they are cheap and abundant. I was pretty sick of American standard mushrooms, and it's probably because they're mostly the same species. I didn't understand why my tastebuds were so bored every time I tried a new mushroom. It turns out baby bella, portobello, crimini, champignon, and button mushrooms are all portobellos, harvested at various stages. Now I have access to actual variety, instead of marketing variety.

JA 長野 ぶなしめじ - JA Nagano Bunashimeji - ¥ 158

Buna shimeji mushrooms. Brown beech mushrooms. Brown clamshell mushrooms. I love to fry these up with ... um ... a green bok-choy-like vegetable that I don't know the name of ... and eat them with eggs. I eat mushrooms pretty much every day now that they are cheap and abundant.

I was pretty sick of American standard mushrooms, and it's probably because they're mostly the same species. I didn't understand why my tastebuds were so bored every time I tried a new mushroom. It turns out baby bella, portobello, crimini, champignon, and button mushrooms are all portobellos, harvested at various stages. Now I have access to actual variety, instead of marketing variety.

国産刻み紅しょうが - domestically produced knitting red ginger ¥ 170 Can you imagine knitting ginger? It's sure stringy enough. Someone please please do this. I think the word translated as "knitting" actually means minced, grated, or shredded. The root word 刻 refers to notching and engraving - so imagine the resultant byproduct of shreds/mince.  

国産刻み紅しょうが - domestically produced knitting red ginger ¥ 170

Can you imagine knitting ginger? It's sure stringy enough. Someone please please do this.

I think the word translated as "knitting" actually means minced, grated, or shredded. The root word 刻 refers to notching and engraving - so imagine the resultant byproduct of shreds/mince.

 

きゅうり 2 コ X 単 78 - Cucumber 2 X Single 78 - ¥ 156 All of the cucumbers I have seen in Japan are almost exactly the same size, shape and color; unblemished; ready to eat; and weigh just about 100g each. In a waiting room, I watched a television playing a daytime talk show where the friendly hosts visited a grocery to investigate the exacting standards and careful attention that allow shoppers to find only impossibly perfect produce. I see this at every grocery, by the way. No bruises, no yellowing, and never a mushy abused avocado.

きゅうり 2 コ X 単 78 - Cucumber 2 X Single 78 - ¥ 156

All of the cucumbers I have seen in Japan are almost exactly the same size, shape and color; unblemished; ready to eat; and weigh just about 100g each. In a waiting room, I watched a television playing a daytime talk show where the friendly hosts visited a grocery to investigate the exacting standards and careful attention that allow shoppers to find only impossibly perfect produce. I see this at every grocery, by the way. No bruises, no yellowing, and never a mushy abused avocado.

ほうれん草 - Spinach ¥ 298 Spinach is good, but fairly uninteresting. HOWEVER! When I put this into Google Translate, it suggested "ほうれん草のおひたし" which may mean "occasion of spinach". What is this occasion, and why is it popular enough to be the first autofill suggestion? I'm a little sad to decide that it must be a recipe name, and not a spinach festival or a wacky anime about a cat who eats greens.


ほうれん草 - Spinach ¥ 298

Spinach is good, but fairly uninteresting. HOWEVER!

When I put this into Google Translate, it suggested "ほうれん草のおひたし" which may mean "occasion of spinach". What is this occasion, and why is it popular enough to be the first autofill suggestion? I'm a little sad to decide that it must be a recipe name, and not a spinach festival or a wacky anime about a cat who eats greens.

8% tax Total ¥7,356 (Roughly $62.89 at time of purchase)

8% tax

Total ¥7,356

(Roughly $62.89 at time of purchase)

Bonus pic: The finished ramen. This is no glamour shot, but doesn't it look delicious? I guess I did bury it in toppings, but you can kind of see the handmade noodles and the cloudy broth between the eggs. I made the noodles by hand. The noodle recipe I use is here. Most stores sell high gluten flours (for bread) and low gluten flours (for cake), so I mix them to get something more "all-purpose". I purchased the broth. I usually make my own stock with bones and/or organs, and I think I have seen those at Niku no Hanamasa, but I still can't read most kanji, and I'm not very confident in my ability to identify chicken livers and gizzards by sight. I want to be certain of the ingredients when I'm buying those kinds of things. In America, I always used to buy them in plastic tubs with big English words on the side and try not to look at the frozen pink brick that came out. The broth is delicious and nutritious but the ingredients might never stop making me squeamish. I made a little "flavor spike" sauce (concentrated dashi) by simmering dried shiitake mushrooms, konbu seaweed, and katsuoboshi (dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna). It's for adding flavor to homemade broth, but we didn't use it after all because the purchased broth was very flavorful. For add-ins, I set out buna shimeji mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, chiffonade spinach, bean sprouts, green onion, pickled ginger, ground sesame seeds, ajitsuke nori (seasoned seaweed strips), and shoyu eggs. I think of the shoyu egg as my flavorful prize that I save until the end of the meal. There are a ton of ways to make them, but the general idea is to soft boil eggs, then peel and marinate them in soy sauce (shoyu) mixed with other sweet and tangy liquids. I prefer a mix of shoyu, mirin, and a little water so that the result is not too intense if I make a big batch leave them marinating for several days as we get around to eating them all.

Bonus pic: The finished ramen. This is no glamour shot, but doesn't it look delicious? I guess I did bury it in toppings, but you can kind of see the handmade noodles and the cloudy broth between the eggs.

I made the noodles by hand. The noodle recipe I use is here. Most stores sell high gluten flours (for bread) and low gluten flours (for cake), so I mix them to get something more "all-purpose".

I purchased the broth. I usually make my own stock with bones and/or organs, and I think I have seen those at Niku no Hanamasa, but I still can't read most kanji, and I'm not very confident in my ability to identify chicken livers and gizzards by sight. I want to be certain of the ingredients when I'm buying those kinds of things. In America, I always used to buy them in plastic tubs with big English words on the side and try not to look at the frozen pink brick that came out. The broth is delicious and nutritious but the ingredients might never stop making me squeamish.

I made a little "flavor spike" sauce (concentrated dashi) by simmering dried shiitake mushrooms, konbu seaweed, and katsuoboshi (dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna). It's for adding flavor to homemade broth, but we didn't use it after all because the purchased broth was very flavorful.

For add-ins, I set out buna shimeji mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, chiffonade spinach, bean sprouts, green onion, pickled ginger, ground sesame seeds, ajitsuke nori (seasoned seaweed strips), and shoyu eggs.

I think of the shoyu egg as my flavorful prize that I save until the end of the meal. There are a ton of ways to make them, but the general idea is to soft boil eggs, then peel and marinate them in soy sauce (shoyu) mixed with other sweet and tangy liquids. I prefer a mix of shoyu, mirin, and a little water so that the result is not too intense if I make a big batch leave them marinating for several days as we get around to eating them all.

Extra Bonus pic: British Asian Indian Soccer Noodles? Husband brings home all kinds of fun stuff. When any coworker goes on a work trip ("market visit"), they always bring back omiyage to show their appreciation for everyone else taking care of things while they were out of the office. Usually these gifts are small desserts, but sometimes they're packs of ramen noodles or salty snacks like kaki-pi. This is a noodle flavor I have never seen before. I know very little about professional sports, so I assumed it was some kind of World Cup pun. It turns out Nissin (who make Cup Noodles) has teamed up with Manchester United (British soccer, no, sorry, football team) to teach soccer to kids in India. 13- to 17-year-old football enthusiasts will be selected from cities across India to participate in a soccer clinic given by Cup Noodles Manchester United Soccer School coaches. Odd product, cool story.

Extra Bonus pic: British Asian Indian Soccer Noodles?

Husband brings home all kinds of fun stuff. When any coworker goes on a work trip ("market visit"), they always bring back omiyage to show their appreciation for everyone else taking care of things while they were out of the office. Usually these gifts are small desserts, but sometimes they're packs of ramen noodles or salty snacks like kaki-pi.

This is a noodle flavor I have never seen before. I know very little about professional sports, so I assumed it was some kind of World Cup pun. It turns out Nissin (who make Cup Noodles) has teamed up with Manchester United (British soccer, no, sorry, football team) to teach soccer to kids in India. 13- to 17-year-old football enthusiasts will be selected from cities across India to participate in a soccer clinic given by Cup Noodles Manchester United Soccer School coaches. Odd product, cool story.

Grocery Haul 2016/11/25

Friday November 25, 2016

This post comes from a weird habit I have. It always starts as an attempt to decipher the grocery receipt, and then I start taking photos and geeking out. Normally, I decide no-one will care, then delete everything and try to move on with my life. But can I just indulge this OCD tendency today and tell you about every single thing I bought at the grocery store this afternoon?

I'm probably (definitely) weird, but I think that this is exactly the kind of thing I would want to read if I were dreaming of moving to Japan, so maybe someone else will appreciate it.

Kitchen Court groceries, ¥4,217 I got a craving for soup as I was leaving the train station on the way home. I decided I should try to make nabe (hot pot), and I just needed broth and vegetables. But I was hungry (whoops), so I splurged. I usually buy a few groceries every day. This is a "big" grocery trip, because I needed two bags to carry it all home instead of one. Our little fridge is pretty full now.

Kitchen Court groceries, ¥4,217

I got a craving for soup as I was leaving the train station on the way home. I decided I should try to make nabe (hot pot), and I just needed broth and vegetables. But I was hungry (whoops), so I splurged. I usually buy a few groceries every day. This is a "big" grocery trip, because I needed two bags to carry it all home instead of one. Our little fridge is pretty full now.

白卵小玉 ミックス, white eggs small dot mix(??), ¥165 玉 is "tama", meaning ball or dot. Google Translate is amazing, but their Japanese is a work in progress.

白卵小玉 ミックス, white eggs small dot mix(??), ¥165

玉 is "tama", meaning ball or dot. Google Translate is amazing, but their Japanese is a work in progress.

房総鶏むね肉, Bōsō Chicken Breast Meat, ¥646 1.115kg at ¥58 per 100g is an especially good deal! That's USD$2.31 per pound at today's exchange rate. Dark meat is favored here - tender, fatty, delicious - so breast meat is the least expensive part of the bird. I assume this is a product of the Boso Peninsula.

房総鶏むね肉, Bōsō Chicken Breast Meat, ¥646

1.115kg at ¥58 per 100g is an especially good deal! That's USD$2.31 per pound at today's exchange rate. Dark meat is favored here - tender, fatty, delicious - so breast meat is the least expensive part of the bird. I assume this is a product of the Boso Peninsula.

The package contains three big chicken breasts, which I put into these medium (quart-ish?) sized bags. (37 bags for ¥100 from Daiso ¥100 shop)

The package contains three big chicken breasts, which I put into these medium (quart-ish?) sized bags. (37 bags for ¥100 from Daiso ¥100 shop)

ブルーベリー, Blueberries, ¥388 180g at ¥388 is USD$8.59/lb. No more giant Costco bags of blueberries for $3.33/lb. There's a Costco here, but it's 75 minutes each way, with $11ish round trip train fare, and I think they only deliver non-perishables. That's a lot of trouble when I can't imagine bringing a giant Costco box on the train, nor carrying it the last mile home on foot. I have a rolling grocery sack, though - it's still in our shipping container, which should arrive in late December, so I'll make a Costco pilgrimage then and weigh the benefits. I think they'll even accept my American Costco card, but I need to ask them to start charging me the low Japanese membership fee.

ブルーベリー, Blueberries, ¥388

180g at ¥388 is USD$8.59/lb. No more giant Costco bags of blueberries for $3.33/lb. There's a Costco here, but it's 75 minutes each way, with $11ish round trip train fare, and I think they only deliver non-perishables. That's a lot of trouble when I can't imagine bringing a giant Costco box on the train, nor carrying it the last mile home on foot. I have a rolling grocery sack, though - it's still in our shipping container, which should arrive in late December, so I'll make a Costco pilgrimage then and weigh the benefits. I think they'll even accept my American Costco card, but I need to ask them to start charging me the low Japanese membership fee.

ハヤシライスソース, Hayashi Rice Sauce, ¥288 ゴールデンカレー中辛, Golden Curry Medium Spicy, ¥178 ゴールデンカレー辛口, Golden Curry Spicy, ¥178 I love that 辛 can mean "spicy" or "painful" (like heartbreak). I've never tried Hayashi Rice before. It's supposed to be like a stew.

ハヤシライスソース, Hayashi Rice Sauce, ¥288

ゴールデンカレー中辛, Golden Curry Medium Spicy, ¥178

ゴールデンカレー辛口, Golden Curry Spicy, ¥178

I love that 辛 can mean "spicy" or "painful" (like heartbreak). I've never tried Hayashi Rice before. It's supposed to be like a stew.

Golden Curry is a box of roux cubes. There are two servings. Stir fry meat and vegetables for 10 minutes; add water, cover and simmer for 30 minutes; turn off the heat. Add a pack of roux cubes and wait 5 minutes. Stir and serve some really delicious Japanese curry. I've bought this at asian markets in the USA (Hong Kong Market in Gretna for y'all in Louisiana). Great stuff!

Golden Curry is a box of roux cubes. There are two servings. Stir fry meat and vegetables for 10 minutes; add water, cover and simmer for 30 minutes; turn off the heat. Add a pack of roux cubes and wait 5 minutes. Stir and serve some really delicious Japanese curry. I've bought this at asian markets in the USA (Hong Kong Market in Gretna for y'all in Louisiana). Great stuff!

大きな国産チキンカツ, big domestic chicken cutlet, ¥298 Large chicken breast, fried Japanese style. Notice this costs not much more than the uncooked chicken breast of the same size. ¥212 for raw, ¥282 for fried. So for under a buck, I can buy my chicken breast already in super-scrumptious form! I would seriously love to eat katsu every day.

大きな国産チキンカツ, big domestic chicken cutlet, ¥298

Large chicken breast, fried Japanese style. Notice this costs not much more than the uncooked chicken breast of the same size. ¥212 for raw, ¥282 for fried. So for under a buck, I can buy my chicken breast already in super-scrumptious form! I would seriously love to eat katsu every day.

地鶏だし水炊きスープ, jidoridashi mizutaki soup, ¥238 Jidori is free range chicken, dashi is broth, mizu is water, mizutaki is chicken soup nabe. This is 700g (almost a quart) of chicken broth for making hot pot. Because it snowed yesterday. Noms.

地鶏だし水炊きスープ, jidoridashi mizutaki soup, ¥238

Jidori is free range chicken, dashi is broth, mizu is water, mizutaki is chicken soup nabe. This is 700g (almost a quart) of chicken broth for making hot pot. Because it snowed yesterday. Noms.

ブナしめじ, buna shimeji, ¥158 Buna is beech, shimeji is aka brown beech or brown clamshell mushroom. Mushrooms are very inexpensive here! Take the royal trumpet mushroom for example: I could buy them at Whole Foods for $20/lb, an asian market in USA for $4/lb, or here for around $1-2/lb. I eat mushrooms every day now.

ブナしめじ, buna shimeji, ¥158

Buna is beech, shimeji is aka brown beech or brown clamshell mushroom. Mushrooms are very inexpensive here! Take the royal trumpet mushroom for example: I could buy them at Whole Foods for $20/lb, an asian market in USA for $4/lb, or here for around $1-2/lb. I eat mushrooms every day now.

きゃべつ, kyabetsu (cabbage), ¥108 I love that everything comes in small manageable portions here. I have often thrown away half a US cabbage because I couldn't (or just didn't want to) cook the whole thing at once, and the leftover cabbage went bad before I could cook it. Here, they cut them in halves or quarters and wrap them in plastic to sell.

きゃべつ, kyabetsu (cabbage), ¥108

I love that everything comes in small manageable portions here. I have often thrown away half a US cabbage because I couldn't (or just didn't want to) cook the whole thing at once, and the leftover cabbage went bad before I could cook it. Here, they cut them in halves or quarters and wrap them in plastic to sell.

人参   袋入, carrots - bagged, ¥198 The carrots are so big and thick. None of that baby carrot nonsense. Did you know that baby carrots are just big carrots that have been cut and tumbled? Weird. Wasteful. And always wet. Just why? I will cut my own carrots, tyvm.

人参   袋入, carrots - bagged, ¥198

The carrots are so big and thick. None of that baby carrot nonsense. Did you know that baby carrots are just big carrots that have been cut and tumbled? Weird. Wasteful. And always wet. Just why? I will cut my own carrots, tyvm.

海苔巻きチキン, nori maki chikin (seaweed rolled chicken), ¥293 Impulse buy. I could read "chikin" but had no idea what else was going on here. It's like... Japanese chicken nuggets or something. Dark fatty meat, fried. Kind of like if you abracadrabra'ed the bones out of an un-sauced chicken wing, and then wrapped it in a nori (seaweed paper) sheet. These are actually really tasty, but I can get a whole giant fried chicken breast cutlet for the same price, and I grew up on white meat, so I'll stick to katsu unless I'm feelin' a dark meat treat.

海苔巻きチキン, nori maki chikin (seaweed rolled chicken), ¥293

Impulse buy. I could read "chikin" but had no idea what else was going on here. It's like... Japanese chicken nuggets or something. Dark fatty meat, fried. Kind of like if you abracadrabra'ed the bones out of an un-sauced chicken wing, and then wrapped it in a nori (seaweed paper) sheet. These are actually really tasty, but I can get a whole giant fried chicken breast cutlet for the same price, and I grew up on white meat, so I'll stick to katsu unless I'm feelin' a dark meat treat.

清洲鬼ころしパック, Kiyosu onikoroshi pakku, ¥99 Kiyosu (a place) Demon Killing Pack. Sweet name for a juice box, right? I bought it on a whim because I think it is a juice box full of sake. For under a buck. This represents all the temptation of childhood combined with the recklessness of adulthood. It's very exciting, and I hope it lives up to my expectations. I'll have to report back on this later.

清洲鬼ころしパック, Kiyosu onikoroshi pakku, ¥99

Kiyosu (a place) Demon Killing Pack. Sweet name for a juice box, right? I bought it on a whim because I think it is a juice box full of sake. For under a buck. This represents all the temptation of childhood combined with the recklessness of adulthood. It's very exciting, and I hope it lives up to my expectations. I'll have to report back on this later.

ベビーリーフミックス, baby leaf mix, ¥148 This is a tiny packet of baby spring mix. The stuff is kinda expensive and hard to find here. We used to eat two giant tubs of it every week for like $6 a tub, plus heaps of cheap broccoli. Now we've pretty much switched to cabbage and mushrooms. I also still haven't seen kale in Japan. I know it exists, though, because Scott says his coworkers get excited when it is mentioned. Maybe kale just hasn't caught on here yet, but I don't know how it would fit into the flavor spectrum. I don't see mustard greens or collards around either. They are dark and bitter whereas most Japanese foods are umami or sweet (or both, which really confuses my taste buds - remember the mikan chips?). 

ベビーリーフミックス, baby leaf mix, ¥148

This is a tiny packet of baby spring mix. The stuff is kinda expensive and hard to find here. We used to eat two giant tubs of it every week for like $6 a tub, plus heaps of cheap broccoli. Now we've pretty much switched to cabbage and mushrooms.

I also still haven't seen kale in Japan. I know it exists, though, because Scott says his coworkers get excited when it is mentioned. Maybe kale just hasn't caught on here yet, but I don't know how it would fit into the flavor spectrum. I don't see mustard greens or collards around either. They are dark and bitter whereas most Japanese foods are umami or sweet (or both, which really confuses my taste buds - remember the mikan chips?). 

ジャークチキン, Jerk Chicken, ¥100 タンドリーチキン, Tandoori Chicken, ¥100 ガパオ, Gapao, ¥100 (Thai chicken and basil stir fry - "gapao" is "holy basil" - though I was really hoping it was a translation of "KAPOW! SPICY RICE!") ガーリックライス, Garlic Rice, ¥111 タコスシーズニング, Tacos Seasoning, ¥111 I bought these seasoning packs so that I can cook real food when I'm feeling lazy. If Scott's out of town, and there's not enough seasoning in the house, I may end up wandering to the konbini (convenience store, sebun irebun) and buying chips and sake instead of dinner. Be prepared! Scout's motto!

ジャークチキン, Jerk Chicken, ¥100

タンドリーチキン, Tandoori Chicken, ¥100

ガパオ, Gapao, ¥100 (Thai chicken and basil stir fry - "gapao" is "holy basil" - though I was really hoping it was a translation of "KAPOW! SPICY RICE!")

ガーリックライス, Garlic Rice, ¥111

タコスシーズニング, Tacos Seasoning, ¥111

I bought these seasoning packs so that I can cook real food when I'm feeling lazy. If Scott's out of town, and there's not enough seasoning in the house, I may end up wandering to the konbini (convenience store, sebun irebun) and buying chips and sake instead of dinner. Be prepared! Scout's motto!

Around 8% tax.

Around 8% tax.

Bonus shot of lunch - stir fried cabbage, carrot and onion, with a soft-boiled egg and part of the chicken katsu.

Bonus shot of lunch - stir fried cabbage, carrot and onion, with a soft-boiled egg and part of the chicken katsu.

Extra bonus shot of the ¥100 hot drink I bought from the Asahi machine to warm my hands on the walk home. Light floral flavor. Quite nice.

Extra bonus shot of the ¥100 hot drink I bought from the Asahi machine to warm my hands on the walk home. Light floral flavor. Quite nice.