Monday, December 31, 2012

Sidenote: Small Plates


I hope everyone had a great's to more treats in 2013!

Continuing my post from yesterday, I decided to talk about some of the non-snack things I pick up on my trips to Mitsuwa, a Japanese super market in Edgewater, NJ. Yesterday I showcased some Japanese breads and today I will detail some random pre-packaged foods. Mitsuwa has a huge section of pre-boxed bento, sushi platters, onigiri and miscallany such as grilled eel slices and salmon.

My standby is always tamagoyaki. You may recognize this atop nigiri at your local sushi place but it is delicious by itself! Tamagoyaki is a little omelet made with egg, soy and sometimes dashi, sake and sugar. It is made by layering and folding the egg mixture in a square pan. 


Next is a seaweed salad made of a particular variety named hijiki. I'm usually not a fan of eating just seaweed but this has a subtle flavor and almost meaty texture. It's mixed with some soy, sliced carrots and more slices of fried tofu. I believe you would find this on some Japanese tables as an accompaniment to a meal.


Lastly is something I picked up on a whim one day since it seemed out of place but WOW is it good. Japanese meatballs or niku dango are not made of beef but of pork. The sauce is a thick sweet soy sauce and perfectly hits those notes of sweet and savory.

I hope you enjoyed this deviation from typical snacks...get ready for more Japanese snacks all year in 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sidenote: Japanese Breads


It's almost New Years! New Years is a rather important holiday in Japan and this time of year Mitsuwa (my largest and favorite haunt for Japanese treats in Edgewater, NJ)  is full of advertisements for special bento boxes and prepared foods.

I decided to talk about some of the other things I purchase at Mistuwa aside from sugary and salty snacks. Usually I will pick up a bunch of Japanese breads and small specialties for dinner that evening when I make a pilgrimage. Since Mitsuwa is not too close to where I live I have to make the most of it! I divided the post up into two parts- Japanese breads and miscellaneous Japanese foods.

I love Japanese breads. I've made a couple of posts regarding the infamous melon pan and the less infamous but much stranger spaghetti sandwich. Japanese breads are very unique. There are countless varieties that can range from a meal in a roll to a desert oriented sweet bean paste bun. I purchase these breads from a bakery within Mitsuwa called St. Honore. I'm not certain if they exist in Japan but there a couple in the US within other Mistuwa branches. "Pan" is Japanese for bread and clearly comes from European roots.

"Dutch Roll"

"Cream Pan"

"Corn and Ham Breads"

I want to preface by saying that though I have my favorite Japanese breads, I always try to pick a few I have not had before and the ones below were all new to me aside from the corn bread. The first bread was called a "Dutch roll". I was not really sure what to expect from that name but the bread was...completely not Japanese tasting! It was a normal, not sweet, slightly yeasty roll. It was a good roll but not what I've come to expect. The next was a "cream pan". The outside was flaky and the inside contained a generous amount of  a delicious Boston creme-like filling. This was was a winner. The following two breads were similar. The outer bread was slightly sweet and buttery while the filling was creamy and contained ham and corn respectively. These are a little more savory but very very good.

This last bread was in a freezer case and caught my eye because I've never seen it before. It's called "mushi pan" and is a steamed (not baked) sweet bread. This was the highlight of this trip! The bread was very chocolatey without being too sweet. The texture is a bit dense but also filled with little air pockets. I can't wait to try more of these.

Part Two will follow tomorrow!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lotte Bikkuriman 2 Choco


This is another item I picked up at Sunshine Market in NYC (right near Bryant Park!). This little snack was $1.99 and quite clearly purchased due to the crazy packaging. What is going on here?!

Upon a little research back at home, I discovered that Bikkuriman was one of the first real item trading trends to hit Japan. In the late 80s you could buy one of these little wafer snacks relatively cheaply and each included a sticker. Some stickers were rarer than other and (sound familiar anyone?) the holographic varieties were the most collectible of them all! I'm assuming Bikkuriman spawned some games and cartoons based on my image search but I didn't fully look into that segment of the franchise.

The packaging is nuts! There are so many odd looking characters that I don't know where to begin.

The wafer itself is packaged in a little paper tray and was preserved nicely. I can't say the treat itself was overly impressive. It was not much different than those inexpensive wafers you find in any supermarket.


The real winner here was the sticker. Surprisingly, I did not know there was a sticker included when I bought it! This turtle is clearly smoking a cigarette and kind of grimy (good luck finding a smoking animal sticker for kids in the US!). His title is "tasuketa kame" which means something along the lines of helpful turtle. I'm not sure what sort of help this turtle provides and I hope I never need his particular brand of assistance.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bourbon Alfort Chocolate Biscuits


I can't seem to escape people taking vacations and me having to do 50+ hour work weeks. Rest assured I haven't forgotten about my Japanese treats.

I was able to sneak a trip into NYC last weekend and stopped by Sunshine Market near Bryant Park. I was slightly disappointed my melon pan but it is always a pleasure to see different varieties of snacks.I picked this Bourbon cookie up for $1.99. I really enjoy LU's Le Petit Ecolier chocolate biscuits and so I thought I'd give these a go. 

The box resembles a bar of chocolate more than biscuits! I appreciate the packaging as it keeps the cookies from breaking. The nautical theme is pretty awesome with the compass and ship emblem pressed into the chocolate. Apparently, it it Bourbon's trademark.


My first impression was that there were not too many biscuits in the package. While this is true if I compare it to a box of actual Le Petit Ecolier or an American box of cookies, I surprisingly don't snack often and so it suits me. The ship is actually very impressive!

Together, the treat is fairly tastey thought less so than my beloved Le Petit Ecolier. The dark chocolate is fair quality and enjoyable. The biscuit, when tasted seperately, was flavorless. Since it is a brown color (more grey in real life!) I assumed it had a slight hint of cocoa but this was not the case.

This  treat was by no means terrible but I don't think I would find myself purchasing it again.