We have both been duped by today’s title.
I wish I could say that one particular series of breakfasts last month in Sapporo, Japan was unforgettable in the positive sense – then again, I did have control over what was to be eaten – but to be fair, it was only partially unpleasant.
I was drawn to Hokkaido’s largest city by, what else, food, and indeed sampled more hits than misses. Down the line, we’ll cover more of what I ate, but today the focus is on three jet lag-induced breakfasts.
A short walk from my hotel led me to Nijo Market (二条市場), arguably Sapporo’s most famous. Much smaller and more relaxed than Tsukiji, its Tokyo counterpart (if visiting seafood markets/shortening your lifespan is on your list of priorities, check out Shimonoseki’s Karato Market too), it also has products much harder to find outside of Hokkaido…
China gets a lot of flak for offering nearly every species of flora and fauna on its menus. Well-deserved? Yes. But Japan and the Koreas aren’t too far behind.
Case in point, over at the Nijo Market, you can buy bear-in-a-can (熊 kuma in a 缶 kan), seal (海豹 azarashi) curry and tinned Steller’s sea lion (todo). I heartily welcome these asterisked additions to my diet.
It was a tough decision, but I went with stewed sea lion. How do you wash that down at 7:30 in the morning? With a US$.80 juice box of sake called “Demon Slayer.”
The stew was well-seasoned with ginger, miso and bamboo shoots, and you definitely knew it wasn’t your standard issue beef or pork. Or tube-shaped fish paste cake.
Getting my daily dose of bread was next on the list, so I flocked to the nearest convenience store for inspiration. The brand Yamazaki Pan comes up with rather bizarre crust-less bread creations, and if you couldn’t read Japanese but knew about Japanese food, you might be forgiven for thinking that they are all stuffed with mayonnaise and yakisoba.
That is unless you noticed the handy graphics depicting what is likely inside. In this package, we have Fujiya chocolate wafers and whipped cream. The wafers seemed a bit stale, but on the whole the sandwiches did the trick.
One of my favorite aspects of eating in Japan is hunkering down at a kaitenzushi restaurant (回転寿司屋/conveyor belt sushi). Not only do they have nearly unlimited tea and pickled ginger (made easier because they are self-serve), but you can also often find ネタ (neta, toppings/ingredients for sushi) unique to that establishment. I’ll go over this in more detail another time, but matsutake mushrooms, raw chicken and hamburgers have been spotted in addition to seafood.
Those are head-scrathcing enough, but what about 白子 (shirako)?
Shirako, or milt, is the seminal fluid of various fish. I gagged. It wasn’t so much what I was eating but the texture of it.
That’s a lie. It was both.
Needless to say, that was the best lemon I have ever eaten.