When most of us think of ramen noodles, we think of the instant rubbish that is made from the cheapest ingredients and produces the cheapest meal we can find. University student survival food. This is unfortunate. Real ramen is a delight. It should be on everyone’s list of Foods to Try Before You Die. While in Kyoto, I ate some excellent curry ramen from a shop downstairs from my hosts home. We placed our orders from a vending machine and gave our tickets to the cooks. After a few minutes of mysterious hand movements and magic noodle wizardry, our meals we produced. Fresh, healthy(ier) and delicious. One more tick, off the food bucket list.
While roaming around Gion, the Geisha district in Kyoto, I had desperately hoped to spot geisha doing their thing on the streets. As I found out, they are as elusive to spot as a hummingbirds. So, to satiate ourselves, my friends and I went to a wee geisha show.
It was very exciting, especially since I was chosen to wear a kimono on stage. I am not posting photos of myself, as I pretty much looked like a tool.
About 1,000 years ago, some Japanese soldiers were attacked while boiling soybeans for their horses. They quickly stuffed the beans into straw bags and when they finally got around to unpacking them a few days later, they had fermented. The soldiers ate them anyway. Thus, the beginnings of natto.
Today, natto is made by fermenting soybeans with Bacillus subtilis. The fermentation process creates a slimy, stringy texture and rather pungent, stinky cheese like odour. This stuff is awesome. I was warned by my couchsurfing host in Kyoto to avoid getting any on fabrics as it is difficult to remove. I believe you and heed your warning.
I don’t know if it is easy to acquire outside of Japan, but if you find some, it is worth a try.
The thousands of gates of the Fushimi Inari are nestled on a mountain’s side in Kyoto. By design, the gates are hidden from view until the explorer is upon them. This is quite a feat seeing as they are large, bright and orange. They are pure magic to walk through and continue up the mountain for 4 kilometers. Also, the street food vendors selling takoyaki, sushi and ice cream with awesome sauce at the bottom of the mountain make the trip all the more worth it. Go. Now.
Not too long ago, I spent a long weekend in Kyoto. After 4 years in Korea, it was my first time in Japan. Pathetic. I tried to go several times before, but for some reason or another, it never worked out. It was an absolutely wonderful time. Kimono, yakitori, geisha, shrines, temples and sake. My friend and I found a very nice Couchsurfing host. He wasn’t exactly knowledgable of the city or very helpful with information and directions (it took him a while to figure out how to get from his home to the subway) but was very generous and kind.
The food was fantastic, of course. I had Okonomiyaki (a savory Japanese pancake, of sorts) for the first time, gorged myself with takoyaki (octopus pieces cooked in a dough and slathered in sauces), tried grilled bamboo and got a little sloppy with shochu and sake.
The sights were gorgeous. I will be posting the best of the bunch here. I know they don’t always contain food knowledge or recipes, but I love sharing my travel photos. Enjoy.