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The Starvin' Xpats Guide to Getting Home Delectables
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timothypfox



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 368

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:08 am    Post subject: The Starvin' Xpats Guide to Getting Home Delectables Reply with quote

Ok this is a post about food! I'm now likely here long-term now, but even if you're not - I thought it might be fun to share solutions you've come up with culinary needs you have trouble satisfying in Japan. Having said, I do love the food here - but pizza is just not the same as back home, and how come there are no places to get bagels or Tex-Mex food! Or, how about Western style take out Chinese food?

Well to get this rolling, I'll share what I've discovered so far. I'm based near Kirishima near Kagoshima, so my observations should work for most parts of Japan.

Bagels
My last home, New York City, abounded in them. You could literally take a breath on any street corner and smell bagels.

Bagels are quite a bit less common here. To find them, dig around local bakeries... You are likely to find one that make them, and sells them more expensively individually. My local Yamakataya bakery sells them, and they seem to sell out fast. There is also a discount restaurant supplier grocery store that keeps prices down by stocking imported food. Mysteriously they occassionally stock frozen bagels.

Cheese
The variety and quantity are lacking in a typical grocery store here. A food area in a larger department store will usually stock more. In this case, I need to drive an hour into Kagoshima city and hit the import section of the store. The AZET near me (something like a Japanese version of Wallmart) has cheese as well.

Cream cheese for your bagels is easy to find at any grocery store. It will take a little more digging to find smoked salmon, but many grocery stores have it. Just look around.

Pizza
I'm still searching!

Indian Food
There are a lot of nice Indian restaurants in Japan. It may be a little harder to find the ingredients to make it yourself, however....

Italian Food
For goodness sakes! Convenience stores do not offer top quality spaghetti! In Japan, it is pretty easy to buy and make good pasta yourself. If you develop a taste for terako spaghetti there are many places to enjoy it out, and usually some reasonable carbonera pasta at many restaurants.

Tex-Mex
I need help on this one! The Mexican restaurants I tried in Kagoshima city were very poor. It is extremely hard to locate beans here.

Western Style Take Out Chinese Food
I never thought of Chinese food as fine dining until I spent time in the Chinatown area of New York. It seems to be by and large much more authentic in Japan than what I normally thought was Chinese food in North America. So, where do I get the nice stir fry with tofu and cashew nuts and chicken over rice? Help me out here! Would certainly be easy enough to find the ingredients here, however.

Hummous
Can you get gabonzo (chick peas) beans in Japan?

Vegi Drinks
So you're used to slirping up freshly mulched vegi drinks? There are not too many places for that - but I did find a cafe called Mama's cafe on the way to Kanoya Rose Garden that does just that. What you can find easily nice vegetable/fruit mixed drinks. These are the kind of drinks that health food stores in a US city would charge you $12 dollars for a carton. But, here you can buy them at a convenience store or grocery store for around 400 yen. Call it a compromise maybe?

So, any advice on tex-mex, take out western style Chinese food, and hummous?

Or, maybe you have a hanking for another food you've managed to find.

Please add and add to the guide! We'd all appreciate your help! Very Happy:
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timothypfox



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 368

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tim,
Your contributions and observations are rather astute - but there are those - probably many - who would counter your claim that you can't get good Japanese pizza here. Have a look: http://japanese.lingualift.com/blog/japanese-pizza/

Best,
Tim
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timothypfox



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 368

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tim,
I never said I didn't like Japanese pizza! I just was writing this whole post to find out ways to have foods the way we have them back in our home countries because we might miss the way they are prepared there!

In haste,
Tim
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timothypfox



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 368

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh okay. Thanks for clarifying. Now we can get back to the point of this thread again!
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TokyoLiz



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1073
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Western Style Take Out Chinese Food
I never thought of Chinese food as fine dining until I spent time in the Chinatown area of New York. It seems to be by and large much more authentic in Japan than what I normally thought was Chinese food in North America. So, where do I get the nice stir fry with tofu and cashew nuts and chicken over rice? Help me out here! Would certainly be easy enough to find the ingredients here, however.


I'm farther from Chinese cuisine in Japan than I was in my hometown Vancouver which abounds in regional Chinese fine dining and greasy spoons. Yokohama Chinatown is the only place I could find Chinese cuisine that tastes.

I have yet to find a Hong Kong style Chinese noodle shop or any grocers that stock sesame pudding frozen or fresh.

Chick peas are called hiyoko mame in Japanese. You can get them at import food shops in Chiba and Tokyo.

Junkadelic is the only Mexican restaurant in Meguro worth the trip in from the 'burbs.

Has anyone found a Vietnamese pho restaurant in Tokyo?
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OneJoelFifty



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TokyoLiz wrote:

Has anyone found a Vietnamese pho restaurant in Tokyo?


This place in Kitasenju is pretty good, although I haven't eaten pho. I can recommend the honey chicken.

https://ja.foursquare.com/v/pho-hanoi-tokyo/4c8df778b3bcb60cee515527
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timothypfox



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 368

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the tips on Chickpeas (hiyoko mame)! I will keep my eyes peeled for them at an import store (and perhaps have a look around AZET for them)...
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 867

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I buy most of that stuff, including bagels, in Costco. http://www.theflyingpig.com/tfp/Shop.ASP deliver from Costco all over Japan if there isn't a store near you.

I've also started getting household stuff there, (e.g. detergent), because I don't speak any Japanese and I kept getting the wrong stuff in local stores. If I could read Japanese I wouldn't bother, but it's easier for me if I can read the labels.
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 538
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For garbonzo beans, try Yamaya.

For Chinese, try Ikebukuro in Tokyo.
Maybe Motomachi in Kobe is good. There is a Chinatown in Nagasaki too.

As for Tex-Mex, well there are the Mike`s restaurants, which are near the American bases. He has a website. There are restaurants in Yamaguchi and Okinawa. Maybe in Sasebo too.
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southofreality



Joined: 12 Feb 2007
Posts: 579
Location: Tokyo

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Best pizza in Tokyo is Devil Craft, hands down...

Want carne asada tacos? make that $h!t yourself because you'll never find anything decent in Japan. (Sorry, I'm from Cali, so not so much into Tex-Mex). I make my own salsa as well, but have to get my jalapenos from a supermarket in Shinjuku. They're grown in Okinawa, though, so I'm sure you can get them in Kyushu. In fact, grow peppers down there and sell 'em online to other people who can't be bothered to do the same.

Agree with Tokyo Liz, the real good Hong Kong-style Chinese stuff is non-existent here. Couple of really good 西安 and 四川 Chinese places in Shinjuku that I know of...

Seriously, though, if you love your comfort food, invest in an oven/microwave and make your own bagels, buy a blender and make your own salsa, pick up some good taco/burrito recipes online and make that stuff at home. Once you get it down, you'll be like a celebrity down there when people come over and see how you're livin'...
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Western style Chinese take-out? Isn't that an oxymoron?

For ingredients you can't find easily or at all, order through the Food Buyers' Club or flyingpig.

Yes, garbonzo beans exist in Japan. Not every store has them, but they are here.

For advice on most foreign foods that you don't want to order, consider whether there is a Costco in your neighborhood, or seek out department stores that have a foreign food section (often with the gourmet foods). One chain is Jupiter.

Not sure what you consider good pizza, but I have found that Pizza Hut exists here.
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timothypfox



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 368

PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the advice people! I'm sure this will be good advice for others as well.

What I meant by Western style Chinese food is food that was developed by Chinese workers who built the railways in Canada and America over 100 years ago. The cooks in the work terms learned to be innovative and cook with whatever was available. The style of food became something new. And so I called it Western style Chinese food (and please do correct me if there is a better term here - or if my historical facts are a little off - but I think that is the historical origins of Western take out Chinese food).

I could very well call it original style Chinese-American or Chinese-Canadian take Chinese style food. This may sound a little more accurate.
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jmatt



Joined: 29 Apr 2012
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TokyoLiz wrote:
Quote:
Western Style Take Out Chinese Food
I never thought of Chinese food as fine dining until I spent time in the Chinatown area of New York. It seems to be by and large much more authentic in Japan than what I normally thought was Chinese food in North America. So, where do I get the nice stir fry with tofu and cashew nuts and chicken over rice? Help me out here! Would certainly be easy enough to find the ingredients here, however.


I'm farther from Chinese cuisine in Japan than I was in my hometown Vancouver which abounds in regional Chinese fine dining and greasy spoons. Yokohama Chinatown is the only place I could find Chinese cuisine that tastes.

I have yet to find a Hong Kong style Chinese noodle shop or any grocers that stock sesame pudding frozen or fresh.

Chick peas are called hiyoko mame in Japanese. You can get them at import food shops in Chiba and Tokyo.

Junkadelic is the only Mexican restaurant in Meguro worth the trip in from the 'burbs.

Has anyone found a Vietnamese pho restaurant in Tokyo?


There is a place on the south side of Kichijoji stn. on the road heading to Inokashira Park called Miss Saigon that does passable pho, if it's still there. There was also a small stall in the warren of shops just north of Koenji stn. which was better, but most likely gone now. Sorry if that's not much help! Check bento.com, may be of help.

Actually, my family and I coming back to Tokyo from Portland, OR in the next few months, and we're going to miss all the good Vietnamese food here---we live in a heavily Vietnamese area and can walk to 5-6 excellent pho shops from our house. Just not that many Vietnamese people in Japan, I guess! Same with Mexican---hard to get good Mexican food in Tokyo. Don't know if it's still there, but there was a place in Nishi-Ogikubo called El Quixico, and while it was a pale comparison, and mostly Tex-Mex, there wasn't much better around.
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Mr. Leafy



Joined: 24 Apr 2012
Posts: 194
Location: North of the Wall

PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:37 am    Post subject: Re: The Starvin' Xpats Guide to Getting Home Delectables Reply with quote

timothypfox wrote:
Indian Food
There are a lot of nice Indian restaurants in Japan. It may be a little harder to find the ingredients to make it yourself, however....


If you are in Tokyo there are a few Indian grocery shops in Ikebukero and at least three in Shin-Okubo. At Shin-Okubo go out the north exit, cross the busy road (forgot the name) and continue north on a smallish street with a drugstore on the corner. All within 5 minutes of the station but none of the three are easy to see from the street though, you may have to ask around.

timothypfox wrote:
Hummous
Can you get gabonzo (chick peas) beans in Japan?


Kaldi Coffee Farm (branches nationwide) has canned ones.
If fact, they have everything good to eat from around the world.

http://www.kaldi.co.jp/
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fat_chris



Joined: 10 Sep 2003
Posts: 3135

PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

southofreality wrote:
Best pizza in Tokyo is Devil Craft, hands down


Seconded. I ate there in October of 2011. Fantastic pizza. Fantastic beer.

I like the building they're in as well. Tall and narrow. Reminds me of something that could be in a Brooklyn neighborhood.

Looking at the website is making my mouth water.

http://en.devilcraft.jp

Warm regards,
fat_chris
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