April 24, 2023

Japan Michelin tour 2023 day 10: the last Samurai

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My last day in Japan was spent on a mission for mom. She had called a few days ago asking me to look for dried spiny sea cucumbers, and I had dutifully looked around in Fukuoka without success. Goh-san had told me that they don't see much of it in Japan, and even my friend whose family operates Chinese restaurants in Japan tells me that most of the supply is shipped to buyers in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, I needed to check things out for myself.

I had gotten word from a family friend that a particular shop in Tsukiji Outer Market (築地場外市場) used to sell it, so I made my way over to the market this morning. The whole place was now bustling with tourists from all over the world, which must be good news to the shops. I went through all the dried goods shops at the market and asked every single one of them, and in the end found 4 shops which were still selling dried sea cucumbers.

I have zero experience buying this stuff, but I did send Foursheets to look around a few shops in Hong Kong a few days ago... so I have an idea of how much the stuff might cost. There are only 4 shops which were still selling them: 深谷水産, 江戸屋海産, 丸二商店, and ヤマカ. In the end I ended up buying small amounts from 3 different shops, with varying quality and pricing. Let's see how they compare to Hong Kong...

Edoya (江戸屋海産) - they had what I thought were the best-looking ones, but the pricing was much more expensive than the others. I ended up buying a small plastic tub with 200g, which had 16 pieces inside. What I didn't realize was that they stuffed 6 (out of 16) inferior ones in the middle of the tub so that it was difficult to see outside. These barely had any spikes on them, and definitely would have been cheaper on their own. I feel cheated and won't buy from them again.

Maruni (丸二商店) - these looked pretty nice. I bought a pack of 200g with 16 pieces.

Yamaka (ヤマカ) - recommended by a family friend. This was the cheapest and they had a decent amount of stock. I bought 200g with 17 pieces.

I went to the market too late and stayed too long, so I rushed back and grabbed myself some takeout from McDonald's nearest to the pad. Samurai Mac (サムライマック) was on offer and I got myself a Roasted soy sauce double thick beef (炙り醤油風 ダブル肉厚ビーフ). That was pretty satisfying, but I had to literally wolf it down in less than 5 minutes so I could pack my luggage and rush to Haneda Airport.

Thankfully I still had time to hit the Cathay Pacific lounge at the airport, so I went straight to the Noodle Bar and grabbed myself a bowl of dan dan noodles (擔擔麵). The broth was more viscous here and there was certainly less of it in the bowl. Definitely didn't taste the same as Hong Kong.

Since we're in Japan, I figured I should try out the curry rice, too. This was OK. More acidic than I had expected.

I'm grateful to have enjoyed so much delicious food and drinks in Japan over the last 10 days. After 21 days in Japan in the last 2 months, I think it will be some time before I'm back...

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