Friday, May 26, 2006

JAPAN, Part 1- Baked Goods

Finally getting around to posting after a nice, long vacation to Japan. I have to say it was one of the best vacations of my life. We did everything possible in the 10 days that we had and ate our way around Tokyo, Osaka and a one-night stay at at ryokan in Fukui. I took no less than 400 photos (I am half-Japanese, after all, and you know how we love to take photos!) so I plan to break up Japan Eats report into several stages.

Stage 1 is my Ode to Pan. Pan is bread in Japanese (and Spanish, coincidentally) and Japan is filled to the brim with some of the best toast, pastries and sandwiches on the planet. There is a French bakery on almost every corner and no less than three in almost every depa-chika, which, literally translated, means department store basement. Most major department stores boast a basement filled with everything your foodie heart could ever desire. Counters piled high with designer cookies (that actually taste good), glass cases showing off fat Chinese dumplings and sticks of yakitori shiny with sweet soy glaze, salespeople waving numerous samples of the latest juice or wine in your's all so overwhelming....yet you feel like you've died and gone to Food Heaven. So many choices and not enough stomach space to even accommodate 1/100 of all that the store contains. My eyes would dart back and forth between the perfectly fried, panko-coated korokkes and the freshly baked blueberry loaves dripping with still-warm icing. What on earth is a girl to do?

Well, what my stomach couldn't hold, my camera certainly could so I simply snapped away at anything that looked good, which was....well.....everything. I'm sure some of the salespeople thought it was strange that I was taking multiple photos of a single yakisoba roll, but I had to share with you, faithful readers (if there are any of you left after my long absence!) all of the beauties that lie within the Japanese depa-chika. Well, maybe not all of them in this single post but we will start with what I consider to be one of the stars, if not the star, of the whole depa-chika show....the gorgeous and plentiful bread.

Break me off a piece of that!

Of course, a bakery isn't the only place you'd find fantastic bread in Japan. Just go to any kissaten (coffee shop) for breakfast and most offer several "morning sets," each offering some variation on an egg, coffee and a nice, thick slice of buttered toast. Ah, the thick Japanese toast. For those of you who have been to Japan or have been a the Japanese grocery store, you know the wonder that is The Thick Japanese Toast. Crispy and buttery on the outside and mochi mochi (soft and chewy) on the inside, it's one of my all-time favorite things to eat and the base of the namesake of this blog. I did order tuna toast once, but unfortunately it wasn't the best version of my beloved dish since it had way too much cheese on it. Yes, sometimes there is such a thing as too much cheese.

An extra gooey version of tuna toast

Anyway, please enjoy the photos of the lovely pan and pastries. More Japan reports to come!

Department store baker, busy at work.

Mo-ning seto!

Sugar toast, salmon sandwich and fried egg (with perfectly medium-runny middle!) sandwich

Perfectly organized

Bread w/ cheese and ham inside...mmmmmmm

Sticky sweet goodness

Are you feeling full yet?

So much bread, so little time....



Jeni said...

Natsukashii~! Girl, I love Nihon no Pan!!! I could easily spend 800~1000 en on pan and still want more. It's just too yummy! Man, those bakeries are dangerous. ABUNAI!!!

Looking forward to more Japan Eats!!!

Santos said...

welcome back! gaaaaaah, all that carby goodness, i heart nihon no pan, too. anthony hates the stuff, but i love its squishy mochi-mochi goodness, and how it approximates other countries' breads but manages to be wholly unique.

carlyn said... I love Japanese Pan...when I was in Tokyo last, I ate pan every morning and would make a sandwich with curry korroke in the afternoon....ahhhh...I'm homesick..

세라 said...

wow these pictures look so good! It reminds me of bakeries in Korea. Everything was so pretty, I just wanted to stare at the pasteries.

Colleen Cuisine said...

Dr. Atkins (RIP) would have read your post and promptly died. Me - I LOVE IT - bring on the bread!!! That toast looks so good. I'm really looking forward to the rest of your Japan report!

eatdrinknbmerry said...

Hi TAG, welcome back. The photos of Bread City are great. I saw so many of these bakeries in the Depa-Chikas but never actually tried it. Too me, bread is a waste of space for other goodies haha. Had I known about the Yakisoba roll, I would've tried that.