Thursday, March 4, 2010

Renata on Renatua

Okay, this one came together perfectly in the way that only great art, er, blog posts can. Dr. Terry gave me a bag of Renatua candies. My co-worker right next to me, coincidentally, is named Renata. I know, I know, this post is gonna write itself.

Right then, this candy is supposedly, get this, "Aloe Yogurt" flavored. Aloe yogurt.

Judging from the really quite elegant package, the aloe part is contained in the green center. I mean, I guess it is.

True to form, the candies are cutely individually wrapped. Weird Japanese Snack #14 looks on with jealousy.

Okay, time to taste these aloe yogurt flavored candies. Below, my co-taster and guest reviewer, Renata. She had a diet Coke chaser on hand just in case they, uh, sucked. Sorry, puns are my weakness.

"Right off the bat I'm getting some high, grassy notes with maybe a slight, almost chocolatey finish." I said.
"No, I'm just trying to sound like some pretentious sommelier."
"Oh, I get it.." She rolled the candy around in her mouth for a moment, "I'm getting hints of rhubarb and wood."
"Now it's like a chorus of small, citrus angels with lemon zest harps....."
"It's like a cloud of elusive nectars chasing one another..." Renata opined.
"Maybe they're trying to find the aloe goddess at the center of their world..."
"Seriously, it is sort of a melon flavor," said Renata suddenly taking a rather stern tone.
"Now it's like a young maiden reflected in a dapple of light by a Venetian canal..." I went on.
"No seriously, it's kind of melon or maybe pear."
"All right. Yeah, melon and pear. It's good." At that my candy broke through to the aloe center. Renata, having suffered years of malnutrition throughout her entire life, has very soft teeth and had to continue to teethe away on her candy while I was able to begin describing its' aloey core goodness.
"The center is really good. It's gummy and bright and, I wouldn't say aloe, more grapefruit maybe. With a bit of mint or something..."
At this point Renata caught back up.
"Yeah, citrusy definitely. It's very good."
"I agree."
Dr. Terry then entered and chimed in, "I didn't really like it that much. I liked the shell but the inside was too flowery. You know? Like when they put too much hops in beer." We use alcohol analogies a lot in our office.
"Too pefumey." I offered.
"Yes. The outer shell was perfect though. Did you say yogurt?"

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weird Japanese Snack #14 Gummy Fish

The English label on the back simply says sweet candy. I was really hoping this was going to have a gummy bear sort of flavor.

Bad photo.

Better photo.

Verdict? Not good. The consistency was like gummy bears but the flavor was pretty unappealing. It was almost a vanilla, marshmellow flavor. I checked the ingredients and milk is one of them. Yih. This is one fish I'm trowin' back!

Temari Cafe

Okay, I really have to learn. Went to Temari Cafe which is right down the street. I ordered a bowl of tuna donburi with avocado. It was awesome. So awesome that its' gravitational pull dragged me into it before I could take a picture. Below, pre-game beer and rice crackers.

They have a very clever gimmick of running authentic Japanese food themed shows to whet your appetite. A lot of them have Japanese celebrities on them. Naturally, I have no idea what they're saying but the food looks delicious.

The simple soy sauce dressing they make is amazing. I wonder if I could get the recipe.....

This place is a true izakaya; a small, casual watering hole that serves drinks and offers a simple menu. This place is popular with Japanese who live in the area. He makes all sorts of classic Japanese comfort foods like Wafu Hamburg Steak, curry, and omlettes (I know I spelled that wrong). There's the good luck kitty waving people into the restaurant. I bumped into Senator Inoue here once.

Noodles for Lunch

For lunch the other day I had one of my standard go-to bowls of cup noodles. Have no idea what the writing says.

Below the tempura cracker that adds a nice, mushy savory element. Naruto and Sakura look on with envy.

Stop staring! Itadakimasu!

Hinode Sushi

Went out for sushi with my pal Pete last week. Sadly, when our sushi arrived I neglected to take a picture. Below a lame shot of the restaurant.

Some shrimp and whitefish sushi for someone else.

Below, Pete! In the lower right of the photo you can see a corner of a piece of o-toro sushi. That night they had 0-toro sushi for $10 for two pieces and chu-toro for $6. We decided to compare. To be honest, they were both really luscious and rich and the extra $4 to upgrade to the o-toro was not necessary. They gave us a free appetizer of some seared salmon. It was awesome. No pic of course.

Below the whimsical desert the chef made for us from an orange.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Um, I stand corrected.....

Apparently, my review of Weird Japanese Snack #12 invoked the ire of my easily irritated friend Scot. Below, the email I received yesterday.

"Jeez, I just read your blog entry on the snack I brought you. Thanks for all those nice things you said about my trip! Fyi: The meeting was in Jakarta, not Bali, and that place is no picnic. Huge, crowded, polluted, 24 hour traffic, and periodic bombings so everything is behind security barriers and armed guards. It wasn't a boondogle conference. We sat with a dozen AID and Indonesian counterparts and hashed out 5-year work plans that we had spent the previous 8 months trying to negotiate on line. For once I would agree that the only way to get it done properly was face to face. Sound fun? The meeting went on for four days with a weekend in between. During that weekend I flew to Bali on my own expense. The lucky overnight layover was on the way in. I liked the mention of us Gaijin being shooed out of the first restaurant we tried, that's true. On the way back I had a ~7 hour layover at the airport and I spent 5 hours in a tiny hotel room. It was great. Just before my flight I went to a sushi bar, which to be honest was better than the two places I went to outside the airport. I got your snack just before catching the flight home. I thought for sure that you'd mention "Mr. Sparkle" from the Simpsons. The image on the package looks just like it and that's the whole reason I got it for you!

I think your blog is stupid
I still have another packet of those snacks. You want them?"

Ain't he a sweetie! Luvit. Thanks Scot. That was priceless. And yeah, I'll take those snacks. The neighbor's cat loves 'em.
He just sent this: "Man, that guy's an ass! One last caveat is that my comment on the tiny hotel room sounds like sarcasm but it really WAS great and part of the whole Japan experience. "

Monday, February 15, 2010

Weird Japanese, no, Taiwanese Snack #14 Lychee Gels!

Okay, robust bag of Fruit Gels from Taiwan. Thanks Doctor Terry.

There's about a dozen of these guys in the bag.

Lychees are these weird sort of, I dunno, fruit I guess, from Asia. They look sort of like a nut but that is just the outside. It's kind of like a paper/bark covering. Once you peel that off there is a sort of almost pear-like fruit wrapped around a pit. The flavor too is reminiscent of pear but there's a sweet grapey quality too. I like 'em. Below, the little tub.

Translucent gel. The tub has sort of a wobbly heart shape to it. Is that to give this snack an aura of vulnerability?

These taste exactly like a fresh lychee. I, as a rule, am not a big fan of jams, jellies, etc., so I can't see ever buying these again but, you know, not bad. Not bad at all.