Birthday Dinner and Japan’s Italian Food

This was more than a week ago now, but I met a girl in one of my classes that introduced me to her friends and they ended up inviting me out to dinner. They said there were getting pizza so I said yes, naturally. They didn’t tell me until we got there that it was a surprise party for one of the girls, so I was even more flattered they brought me along.

P_20170411_171551First, they brought out some gnocchi that had some parmesan on top. I’m pretty sure they were basil flavored. They were great. Then we looked at the menus and there were some odd combination pizzas. Ones with fish eggs and mayo, and stuff like that. There were some normal ones too. I chose a simple pesto pizza and they chose a variety of other things. As Japanese people often do, we all shared so I got to try the P_20170411_174936assortment of Japanified pizzas. First came the margarita pizza another girl asked for. It was good. Though, I immediately noticed the very small amount of cheese that was on the pizza. This continued to be the case with all the pizzas, but this makes sense since cheese is very expensive here. Next came out the pesto pizza. It was great. I love P_20170411_172839pesto, and even without a lot of cheese, the pesto carried the pizza for me. Off to a strong start. So far everything is tasty and is fairly standard despite the distinct lack of cheese. The next pizza to arrive is this nicely displayed pizza. It has a bunch of some meat laid out with an egg in the middle. The meat was some form of pork. Back in America, I’m a half vegetarian, meaning I don’t eat mammal, but here it wouldP_20170411_174940 be difficult for me to be strict about it and I would have to miss out on a lot of classic Japanese dishes so I decided while I was here I’d let it go and eat whatever. I have to say the pork on this pizza didn’t totally make me regret being a half vegetarian. I figure I just haven’t developed a taste for it. I’m not much of a meat person anyway. The next one was a pizza similar to the margarita pizza except it had anchovies on it. I know

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Sorry for the blurry photo, not sure why that happened.

this is a classic in America too, so I tried it. It’s a margarita pizza with the flavor of fish. Not my forte, but I get why some people like it. Then we got something that looked nothing like pizza but it was actually pretty good. Gotta be honest, I’m not totally sure what was on P_20170411_173620it, but it was pretty and tasted good, so I didn’t really care. I think the most surprising thing of all was the pasta we had that night. At some point, we had spicy penne pasta which all of us agreed was very spicy. And a white pasta which had sounded good to me. What was in the white pasta was startling, to say the least. I had been eating it and it actually tasted pretty good. I was pleased with it until I realized the sauce was made out of tiny fish. I started seeing all the little eyes and thought about the tiny colorful fish I had as a kid and was a bit disturbed. I finished it though I felt a little weird after. P_20170411_180251

 

I felt bad that I was so surprised by all the food. I don’t know why but I was expecting something like Olive Garden or Cheesecake factory and it was not like that. Foreigners must come to Japan a lot and find themselves eating an unfamiliar version of Itailian food. The experience made me wonder though, how is American Italian food different from actual Italian food. I bet we’ve Americanized it, much like with have with every type of food we’ve appropriated. I wonder how Japanese people like the Americanized Italian food when they visit. Or better yet Italian food in Italy. Eating Italian food in Italy is one of my bucket list goals for sure. Japanese food is better in Japan so I can only imagine Italian food would work the same way.

P_20170411_181401After we had all eaten, the birthday girl got her surprised. The restaurant had put together a beautifully decorated plate with a little ice cream and cake on it. She was very surprised but I think she felt good that her friends had thought about her like that. That night was great. I had new food experiences and had great conversations with new friends. I definitely want to go out with them again. I really appreciated them taking me into their friend group. I’ve been very lucky in friendship here.

As always, I’d love to hear from you. Consider leaving a comment below. If you enjoyed this post leave a like and if you really enjoyed, consider sharing it. Thank you for reading!

Aja

 

 

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Harajuku! Off The Beaten Path

The other weekend a new friend of mine took me around Harajuku, which for those of you who don’t know, is a district that is huge for fashion subcultures and anything that isn’t Anime or Mainstream. It is very popular with many artists such as Gwen Stafani as she mentions a lot in her Rich Girl song.

Even Marilyn Mason is known to strut that territory when he visits Japan I learned. There’s a good reason for that. This time around I didn’t get any fashion shots, I will save that for another post, but I did get to go to plenty of cool places, some popular and some more for the locals.

 

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The first thing you see when you exit the station

 

After we got off the train and exited the stations we decided to get lunch as we were both hungry. She asked what I wanted and I said whatever. The first place we were going to go to was closed so she took me to this great 70s themed burger place. Whoever picked the music in this joint knew their stuff, bands like the Bee Gees and America, and even some Jackson 5. I was singing along to almost every song. If you want a sense of the atmosphere of this place, listen to I want you back by Jackson 5 while you read this like I’m doing as I write this.

 

P_20170409_130038While there I got a chicken burger and a mintP_20170409_131428 milkshake and it seemed artisen. The burger was so juicy and the mixture of the sauces and veggies on it were well thought through. It was delicious. The milkshake was another pleasant surprise! They used actual mint. There was not a drop of syrup in that shake. It tasted very different than the hyper sugary shakes you get in the states but it was so rich and still very sweet. It was great. I’d be curious to try their other flavors.

Next, we went to Kiddy Land! It’s a hot spot for tourists and foreigners but it was worth it. Four floors of plushies and figurines from lots of great media. I didn’t take too many photos as I wasn’t sure if I was suppose to, but you can get a sneak peak of what you can find in there.

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There’s something for everyone. There’s Disney, Starwars, Ghibli, and plenty of Japan original characters, some anime stuff and even some terrifying mascot character you can take pictures with. Lucky for me, it was already surrounded by kids so I skipped out on that. The place was a wonderland for kids and for those that enjoy youthfully sort of media. Sometimes it’s nice to escape into a Ghibli Film, what can I say? Another very interesting experience I had was going to the bathroom. That was the first time I ever saw one of those fancy smart toilets. It even had a flush sound button. Which I don’t quite get because I’ve heard it, it’s not convincing and who are you tryna trick anyway? The seat was heated which is both kind of nice but also a bit disturbing having been use to a cold toilet seat my whole life. I still have not tried the bidet, I have to admit, I’m mildly scared too, but I guess that’s an experience I should have. I’ll let you know how that goes someday.

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Next, we went to a mall that has a super cool entrance. It’s like going through the looking glass. Inside was even more surprising because the shops don’t have store fronts. They’re P_20170409_152420just open. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when one shop ends and the other begins, except they usually have different color flooring and internal walls. This really surprised me and my friend was amused by this. I said “Does this make it easier for people to steal?” and she explained to me that that isn’t a very big problem here. There’s a sense of trust between the Japanese, so they don’t feel the need to make shopping more difficult. Apparently, most malls are like this here. It was very nice. You could easily see what was inside and there was a nice flow between stores, overall if we could swing it in America I would say it’s a better way, but unfortunately, our culture doesn’t support the same level or trust or morality, ironically. You can kind see the open shop format in the Conan Cafe picture below. This trust and respect in this country makes it feel like one big neighborhood a lot of the

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Characters outside a Conan Cafe

times. I feel very safe and able to get help at any time if I needed. The shops trusting its costumers embodies that to me. It’s just an example of how it’s different here in a good way.

 

Lastly, we went to a Sushi restaurant. It was super cool. You order on a screen and it comes on a little platform that speeds down a track to you. It was delicious and not very expensive. I got P_20170409_200243quite a bit of food and didn’t spend very much. The sushi was amazing. I got some raw tuna on rice or tsuna nigiri and the fish here is so much fresher and way less fishy. It tried a bunch of different things but that was probably my favorite and I don’t normally like raw fish.

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P_20170409_122943We did so much more that did but I didn’t capture it all. This post would have been twice as long and I wanted to experience somethings not through a lens. Undoubtedly, I will make more posts about Harajuku. I plan to collect fashion pictures and street art photography. I will give you a taste of what I saw.

Look forward to the things to come. This post has turned out to be very long, so if you made it this far, thank you very much! I hope you enjoyed it. I promise to work on my photography.

Thank you for reading. If you have anything to add or have any questions, leave me a comment below! I love hearing from you guys!