Going green.

If Portland’s crazy about going green with recycling, Japan’s ecstatic about going green with matcha. Green tea probably runs in people’s veins over here. So I’ve definitely been savoring the experience. It’s in the little things, like this Meiji green tea ice cream cone. It has a top surface of a sweet green tea white chocolate that covers the ice cream while the cone is rimmed with chocolate inside. (Oops,sorry I couldn’t help but nibble on it before I took the picture!)

meiji

And today marks the moment when I tasted true matcha heaven, after drinking a blissful concoction at this place called Tsujiri from Uji Kyoto (open since 1860, folks–quite venerable). I ordered the smoothie with cream, which consists of milk and ice spun with thick matcha powder (had just a tiny hint of nice grittiness) and topped with a swirl of whipped cream dusted with more matcha powder. It was beautifully thick and creamy with a wonderful balance between sweet flavor and the slight bitter edge that is so iconic with green tea. Oh my.

tsujiri

In terms of noms:

octopus balls

I don’t really know what to dub these…octopus and egg cake balls? In Japanese they’re called takoyaki.They’re made in molds and cooked with bits of ginger and green onion. Surprisingly, they’re very soft (and best eaten piping hot). They sort of fall apart when picked up, and with a dab of light barbecue sauce and Japanese mayonnaise–yum.

katsu

This is a pork katsu set in a sweet soy sauce with an egg cracked over it. Bless the restaurant, it even offered unlimited rice!

udon

Ah, a classic. Hot udon in a rich broth with beef and a side of tempura-fried sweet potato (from a nice array of other fried options!) It’s a cheap, delicious meal that’s a staple to try while in Japan.

Last of all–SUSHI.

sushi
This is my sister’s plate–it was prettier. There’s snapper, yellow tail, salmon, scallop, shrimp, octopus, fatty tuna, Japanese egg, eel, and roe on top of cucumber rolls.

To be honest, I’m still trying to adjust to the texture. I’ve never been that daring about eating raw foods, so this was an interesting experience to say the least. Eating the roe nearly turned me vegetarian after my sister commented that we were probably eating Nemo’s babies. Props to the sashimi and eel though!

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