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Beverages and Western Food in Singapore December 20, 2011

Posted by Dru in Food.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Beverages and Western Food in Singapore” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-Kn

Beverages in Singapore are quite standard.  You can easily find various colas and carbonated drinks everywhere.  It is important to keep hydrated when touring around Singapore.  I had become dehydrated a few times and finding a place to get a drink wasn’t difficult.  The one surprise I had was that you had to find an actual shop.  Tokyo has spoiled me as I can just go a block or so and find a vending machine to get a drink.  It is so easy to find them, but in Singapore, I had to look around a bit for a convenience store to get one.  While there are convenience stores everywhere, it isn’t always easy to spot them and you can get a bit of bad luck by zig-zagging and missing them all.  I was pleasantly surprised to find bubble tea shops around Singapore.  While I wasn’t expecting the best, I did try one.  I ordered a simple milk tea with pearls and was asked about the sweetness level.  I said, non-sweet, and the clerk was surprised.  Living in Japan, tea is rarely sweetened and when I went to Taiwan earlier in the year, the bubble tea was unsweetened.  While I like both, on a very hot day, I actually prefer unsweetened to feel more refreshed.  While the bubble tea was just average, I think I can see why people like it sweetened.  The tea didn’t taste as great and the sweetness could mask the imperfect taste.  In fact, I found it impossible to find unsweetened tea in Singapore as they take the western tradition that any cold tea has to be sweetened.

Alcohol in Singapore is something that is a bit strange.  Alcohol is easy to find and purchase.  You can easily buy alcohol at any convenience store and supermarket but it isn’t that cheap.  It isn’t expensive either but when you go to a restaurant or club, it can feel astronomical.  The lunch time specials, called “happy hour”, provide 2 for 1 or 50% off drink deals.  In fact, these deals tended to last from lunch till dinner, rather than just an hour.  After this happy hour, prices are scaled up to “regular” price.  One of the most common types of price scaling was a happy hour from open till dinner; then dinner time; then regular price after dinner.  This made drinking a little expensive but if you stuck to drinking in the afternoon, it was very reasonable.  The selection was also interesting.  You can really feel the influence of western nations as most of the beer was imports from other countries.  While there were regional brews such as Tiger beer and other nearby specialties, it was tough to determine what was local and what was foreign.  I try to support the local economy but in Singapore, I decided to support the European community by trying various beers from Europe.

Western food is also very common in Singapore.  It is very easy to find McDonald’s but it is also easy to find various pubs and bars as well.  I love to visit nice brewpubs wherever I go.  In Taiwan, I had a few drinks in the gay district and had a good time there.  In Vancouver, I often go to pubs where I grab a burger and a beer.  In Tokyo, I often go to various izakaya and drink till the sun comes up.  In Singapore, I found the drinking experience to be more like Vancouver where you have nice brewpubs, but also like Taiwan where you can have outdoor terraces with many drinks being served.  Alcohol is still a very western ideal in Singapore.  Muslims are very strict at not drinking alcohol and I have found Chinese people don’t often drink too much, especially with family.  I read that Singapore frowns upon public drunkenness so I kept myself in check.  Most of the western style restaurants have to cater to those who drink alcohol as that is what is expected in many restaurants.  Whether it is a bottle of wine or a pint of beer, people enjoy a little alcohol with their meal and Muslim Singaporeans respect that.

Singapore is not just about the foods that I have mentioned.  I did see a lot of Japanese restaurants and I feel that they must be delicious, albeit a bit overpriced compared to Tokyo.  I also saw many other places selling foods that I never had a chance to try.  You can spend days exploring Singapore and trying various types of food.  It is a matter of making time to go out and try new things that is difficult, especially when you also want to see everything else that is out there.  You can spend a small fortune eating if you want or save a lot by going to the Hawker’s markets.  It really depends on your personality and your budget.

Beverages and Western Food in Singapore is part of a series of posts on Singapore.  Please continue with the links below to read more about Singapore:

Food in Singapore December 13, 2011

Posted by Dru in Food.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Food in Singapore” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-Kk

Singapore is a wonderful place to eat.  In my previous posts about Singapore, I mentioned that Singapore is a very multi-cultural city and that is reflected in the food options that are available.  From the research that I had done prior to my trip, I never found a lot of information on real authentic Singaporean food.  I found a lot of information on food in general but nothing that would say that this or that was truly originated from Singapore.  People had told me that the food is from Singapore but I had a tough time telling the difference between what I was told to be Singaporean food and what appeared to originally be Chinese/Indian/Malay/Indonesian food.  This was further exacerbated as the closest I came to eating real Singaporean food was in Canada at one restaurant that was a mix between Malaysian, Thai, and Singaporean food.

While it may be difficult to tell the difference between real Singaporean food and dishes that had been localized with time, there are three distinct Asian types of food that can easily be found in Singapore.  The first is Malaysian, or rather South-East Asian.  One will have to forgive me if I am not in touch with the differences of each country’s local cuisine, but unfortunately I am not an expert on Singapore.  The first dish that I can think of that is part of the area is Kaya Toast.  Kaya is a type of coconut and egg spread and Kaya Toast is when you take this spread and put it in a toast sandwich along with a small wedge of butter.  It reminded me of eating cinnamon toast as a child with lots of sugar.  It was delicious and something that I would eat, not just for breakfast but also for a snack.  The typical way to order Kaya Toast is to get a set with Singaporean coffee and eggs.  Singaporean coffee reminds me of what I think is a Vietnamese style, or rather originally French coffee.  Using a tall metal pot and a high pour to add air into the coffee itself is wonderful technique that is employed in Singapore.  They also use condensed milk and hot water to keep the coffee from being too strong.  The eggs are soft boiled eggs that can be used as a dip for the Kaya Toast or eaten plain with or without soy sauce and black pepper.  One might wonder, what is the “correct” way of eating Kaya Toast, and if the Discovery Chanel is true, there is no correct way of eating Kaya Toast.  You can eat it in any way you’d like.

Another traditional dish I noticed would have to be the noodle dishes.  Dishes such as Mee Goreng and Bee Hoon were great.  They are a regional take on Chow Mein or Yaki Soba.  Almost every Asian country has their version of fried rice or fried noodles.  The version I had in Singapore was delicious with heaps of seafood.  In every food court and hawker’s market I could find these home style foods.  The smells were great and there were small citrus fruits included with these dishes that looked and tasted like sudachi in Japan.  The small citrus fruits were a perfect complement to the spiciness of the noodles.  I also had a chance to eat Lahksa, which is more Indian in style.  It was a spicy soup, almost curry like, with noodles that reminded me of a soup curry rather than an actual Singaporean dish.  One item that I didn’t have a chance to try was the satay.  I was always unlucky when trying to order it.  I always wanted to have satay in that region as I wanted to compare it to the satay that I could get back in Vancouver.  Rather than allowing it to be a regret, I thankfully think of it as just one more reason to go back to Singapore.

In terms of Indian food, there is a lot.  With Little India just a stone’s throw away from my hotel, it was easy to get Indian food, but I never went to Little India for it.  The first chance I had for Indian food was at Boat Quay.  I went to a restaurant that advertised Northern Indian food and it was delicious.  I don’t know what the difference is between Northern and Southern Indian food but my guess would be that Northern Indian tends to be “drier”.  By this, I am comparing it to Indian food that I have bought in Tokyo, which is highly unlikely to be authentic.  I ordered what would seem to be regular food from India.  I had some samosas, naan, curry, and tandoori chicken.  The Samosas were delicious and very much alike the potato samosas I had in Vancouver.  I also had papadums.  These are similar to Indian “chips” with a mint dip and a mango dip.  It was not what I expected but not terrible either.  The naan was a surprise.  I am used to the huge triangle shaped naan in Japan, but these were simple circles and probably more traditional of India or northern India.  The curry was also a bit of a surprise.  I ordered a chili chicken curry that had almost no sauce.  Rather, the sauce was so thick that it looked more like sweet and sour chicken, but a lot spicier.  While it was a surprise, it was also very delicious.  The tandoori chicken was the house specialty and it was as expected.  Not too dry as some places do but just the right amount of spice for me.  I had one other opportunity to have Indian-like food in Singapore.  I ordered some curry in a food court and it was also a bit dry overall.  While the dry curry was good, it was just something I had to get used to as I had a bad experience with dry curry in the past.

Chinese food is by far the easiest food to obtain.  Everywhere I went I could see various types of Chinese food.  Growing up in Vancouver, I had a great opportunity to taste various types of Cantonese style foods.  In Singapore, chicken rice is very famous.  It is actually Haianese food but it was delicious and the ginger rice that I had with it was perfect.  The rice had the scent of ginger but it wasn’t too spicy either.  I also had a chance to eat some Chinese style pastries.  Within the food areas of department stores, I could find various cakes and pastries.  Singapore has many bakeries that sell traditional bread style pastries as well as flake pastries.  I was happy to see I could get my favourite pastries in Singapore and I didn’t have to go to Hong Kong or Vancouver to get it.  Japan is one of the worst places to get real Chinese pastries, and even in Hong Kong I have found it a challenge at times to get the ones I want as  Hong Kong has been transitioning from the pastries that I know and love to a more Japanese style.  Japanese pastries tend to be very good but the way they do things is not the same.  Think of the difference between a McDonald’s burger and a gourmet burger.  They are the same thing but done completely differently.  Sometimes one is better than the other, but it depends on your mood.  That’s how I feel about these pastries.  Chicken rice and pastries aren’t the only dishes available in Singapore.  You can also get dim sum, although I couldn’t get any due to bad luck or timing, noodles in soup, and various rice dishes.  Because I ate in food courts, the food was somewhat skewed.  I am used to eating in restaurants where I can share many dishes along with plain white rice.  In the food courts, food is designed for single people and it was hard to try many different things at once.

As you can see, eating in Singapore is varied.  The food was all delicious and other than being a little scared of the cleanliness of the hawker’s markets, everything was fine.  If I could, I would go to the hawker’s markets more often but I also felt a little strange as it was filled with locals.  I stuck out like a sore thumb every time I walked through the hawker’s market that was between my hotel and the station.  For some, it is a great place but with my own personality, I found it difficult to enjoy a meal there.  The hawker’s markets are open from late morning until dinner time, but around dinner time they all start to shut down.  You can easily find food during the day but by night things get a little difficult.  It is a great adventure to try the hawker’s markets and next time, if I’m with the right people, I’ll have no problems going back and eating there more often.

Food in Singapore is part of a series of posts on Singapore.  Please continue with the links below to read more about Singapore:

Barbecuing in Tokyo October 4, 2011

Posted by Dru in Food, Japan, Tokyo.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Barbecuing in Tokyo” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-Ip

Tokyo is a tough place to barbecue.  Barbecuing back home in Canada involved a gas grill, a bunch of friends if they are available and a selection of meats and salads.  When someone wanted a steak, it was pretty easy to fire up the grill, throw on a couple steaks, and within 15 minutes, you were ready to eat.  No need to really do any preparations.  If you had a party, of course you had to prepare a lot but not that much.  If you wanted something good, you would have to marinate the meat overnight, and prepare all the vegetables and salads.  Grilling in your backyard was a very simple affair and something that people routinely did.  Tokyo, a city where there are relatively few, if any backyards, and if someone does have a backyard, it is usually very small.  Land space is expensive and prohibitive to having large yards.  Barbecuing in Japan presents its own unique challenges that must be met head first.

The first thing one must learn is that barbecuing in Tokyo is essentially illegal.  You cannot set up a barbecue on the side of a river or in a park.  It is illegal to have an open fire within the city limits of Tokyo.  Whether that applies to private property or not is unknown to me.  I have seen people with somewhat larger yards and balconies where they can barbecue, however being Tokyo and Japan, you do have to be aware of your neighbors.  One of my friends had bought a grill and started to barbecue in front of his house, outside his front door.  While the street in front of his house was primarily for pedestrians, as cars would not fit, his neighbors were polite but complained quickly.  After using it once, he never had the opportunity to use it again.  The only legal place to barbecue is within one of the city’s parks.  There are websites that direct you to the various parks within the city that allow people to barbecue.  Since Tokyo is such a large and dense city, they require reservations before you can barbecue at these sites.  The only problem is that these locations fill up very quickly and are usually reserved months in advance.  Unless you have connections or a bit of luck, you won’t be getting into these locations.  It can be a hassle to find a place in Tokyo for a barbecue, but thankfully there is one last emergency measure, an illegal barbecue.  There are just a few places around Tokyo where you can safely, yet illegally, barbecue.  I don’t recommend it but there are lots of people who do it.

The food and cooking style at a Japanese barbecue is slightly different compared to a typical American style barbecue.  I’m used to hearing about people grilling burgers, steaks, and hot dogs.  In Japan, it can be similar but in a very Japanese way.  I often see Korean style barbecue meats, or thinly sliced meats.  Seeing seafood is also very popular in Tokyo.  Vegetables tend to be the same.  Just putting raw vegetables on the grill and letting them cook.  Like most barbecues, you can grill almost anything you want.  One of the bigger problems with grilling in Tokyo is getting the fire started.  Coming from Canada, there is only one person I know of who has a traditional charcoal fired grill.  He has all of the items from the charcoal heater to the good charcoal.  In Tokyo, I had to learn how to set up a grill and get the fire going.  It is very common for people, including myself, to just buy charcoal and grab a bunch of old newspapers and figure it would be easy to start the fire.  I was very wrong and the first barbecue I had, it took about an hour to get it started!  The second time on was much easier for me.  I knew the idea of how to start it, but having a starter fuel is idyllic.  At the end of a Japanese barbecue, noodles and vegetables are brought out.  All grills come with a flat pan that is heated to create a griddle.  This griddle is used to cook yaki-soba.  Yaki-soba is a very traditional end to any barbecue in Japan.  If you ask any Japanese person what they should have at a barbecue, especially as a last dish, they will almost certainly say yaki-soba.  While I don’t like it, it is very common in Japan and should be expected.

Like any barbecue, in the end, there are no rules in what you must do or how you do it.  A barbecue in America/Canada is essentially the same as one in Japan.  While the food is different the idea of getting together with a group of friends to enjoy a beautiful sunny afternoon is no different.  The logistics are much harder in Tokyo but on the plus side, you can drink alcohol in public so having a beer or a glass of wine at a barbecue is perfectly acceptable.  Having a loud group of friends laughing the afternoon away is no different between Japan and North America.  If you ever get a chance, you should try having a barbecue in Japan.  If you can’t have a traditional barbecue where you grill outdoors, you can always go to a yakiniku restaurant instead.  It doesn’t have the same appeal, but it is better than nothing, and you don’t have to prepare anything.

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

Food in Taipei September 27, 2011

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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Food in Taipei” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-Hx

When visiting Taipei, one must always think about food.  In fact when visiting any region, food is very important.  Coming from Canada, it isn’t as important to find a good restaurant or local food when travelling in North America as food tends to be very similar in each region.  When visiting Europe, we tend to think about food more so when visiting the continent versus England itself.  France is well known for its cheeses and Italy is well known for pasta.  Even each region of a country has its own specialties.  After moving to Japan, I slowly got into the food culture.  Japan is well known among Japanese people for being a place with various regional dishes.  Each city has its own local foods that have been around for either centuries or just a few decades.  Taiwan is well known for Xiao Long Bao, and beef noodle soup, among other foods.  It has always been important for me to try everything so I can get the full experience of any place I visit and food is definitely one of those things.

The most famous food to come from Taiwan is Xiao Long Bao.  Xiao Long Bao is a type of Chinese dumpling that is akin to the Cantonese dim sum dumplings.  It is meat, traditionally pork, wrapped in a dough wrapper.  It is steamed and served piping hot.  While Xiao Long Bao may have originated in Shanghai, it is still very famous in Taiwan and an integral part of their food culture.  When eating Xiao Long Bao, you have to be extremely careful as when you take a bite into it, the juices just squirt out burning the inside of your mouth if you aren’t careful.  The way I was taught to eat it “properly” is to pick it up by the top and dip it in vinegar.  Then place it in your spoon where you take a bite off the top.  The dumpling is wrapped in such a way that it is closed on the top and the top is the strongest part of the dumpling.  The top, where they seal the dumpling is where you take your first bite.  From the hole you just created, you can slurp out the soup created by the pork juices and fat.  Afterwards you can eat the rest of the Xiao Long Bao.  It doesn’t take much time but it ensures you don’t have a burnt mouth when you eat it.  Making the perfect Xiao Long Bao is very difficult and something I could never do.  The most famous shop in the world has to be Din Tai Fung.  It is one of the oldest in Taipei and touted as the best.  There are many branches but the top quality is said to be in their main branch on Xinyi Road.  It was a simple walk from my hotel to the main branch and even though we arrived around 3pm, there was still a line.  When you eat Xiao Long Bao often enough, you can tell the good from the bad.  The previous night we had Xiao Long Bao at another famous shop.  It was good but Din Tai Fung was much better.  The dough was pressed properly.  Thin enough so it wouldn’t interfere with the taste of the pork and thick enough so it wouldn’t break easily.  Of course they had other things on the menu but the Xiao Long Bao is the most famous.

The other famous food to eat, or rather drink, is Bubble Tea.  Bubble Tea is also known as Pearl Tea.  It is a drink that contains tapioca balls inside.  I had a few chances to try different varieties of Bubble Tea in Taiwan.  The first time was at one of the first, if not the first place to create Bubble Tea.  It was definitely a good experience.  Bubble Tea in Taiwan tends to be less sweet than Bubble Tea in Hong Kong as Taiwan uses milk and Hong Kong uses condensed milk.  Speaking to someone from Taiwan, they are very proud of Bubble Tea and find Hong Kong Bubble Tea to be too sweet and not good at all.  I disagree with the evaluation that it isn’t good, but rather I think it’s different.  Sometimes I’ll want a sweet Bubble Tea and sometimes I won’t.  I think it is all in a person’s preference.  I like both of them.  The simplicity of a milk tea with pearls and having it at the right sweetness is difficult.  Taiwan does a very good job with this and I could drink it almost daily.  Unfortunately having good ones can be a little difficult at times.  Finding a good shop can be difficult as I didn’t know if the main outdoor branches would sell good ones.  It doesn’t really matter as nothing really compared to the first one I had at one of the birth places of Bubble Tea.

Snow cones are another interesting food from Taiwan.  There is a somewhat famous shaved ice dessert that comes topped with syrup and fresh fruit.  I went to the best place in Taipei called FnB.  There was a long snaking line outside the shop and people jockeying for position to steal a table when it opened up.  We got lucky when we found a table but I ended up standing anyways.  The most typical version is a plain shaved ice with mangoes on top.  It is a delicious dessert and well worth the cost.  The ice is shaved fresh and they poured a little brown syrup on top of the ice.  On top of that they added mangoes with lots of juice and topped all of that with a scoop of mango sherbet.  They do have other fruit varieties including a mixed fruit that typically comes with mango, strawberry, and kiwi.  For a city like Taipei, the need for fresh desserts is a necessity due to the humidity.  There is one variation where they use ice milk rather than regular ice.  This is just as good but the flavour is slightly different.  It’s difficult to explain and something you can easily find out by trying it yourself.  The main difference between the milk ice and plain ice would have to be the texture.  Milk ice tends to be a little silky while plain ice has a bit of a crunch to it.  That’s not to say that the plain ice is hard as it was surprisingly very soft.

The night markets are one of the best places to find food.  It can be a little scary as it’s hard to decide what to eat.  They have everything you can imagine that comes deep fried.  One of the most common things to eat is the Chinese sausage.  You can get these in many places but the night markets are the easiest.  A Chinese sausage is not your typical European style.  They tend to be a little sweet and chewy.  It’s hard to explain but it is similar around China but different enough due to the local ingredients used.  It’s similar to asking someone to explain barbecue sauce.  You know it when you taste it and it tastes different in each region.  The other main food I had to try was the chou dofu, or stinky tofu.  It is a fermented tofu that is deep fried.  In the night market, they deep fry bite sized pieces of stinky tofu and put a bunch of pickled cabbage on top.  It’s similar to sauerkraut but in a Chinese style.  The smell of the stinky tofu wasn’t bad at first.  I enjoy the smell as it reminds me of night markets.  I’m not sure if I ate it before as my parents often give me food and tell me that its good but never tell me what it is.  As I smelt the stinky tofu, my feelings about eating it went up and down.  I went from wanting to enjoy it to getting scared as the smell went from pungent to gross to pungent again.  When I did eat it, the first few bites were fine and it was like normal deep fried tofu.  After my saliva started to engulf the tofu, the smells were released and I had a tough time swallowing it.  It went from having no smell to having a terrible smell in under a second.  While I found the smell to be terrible as I chewed the stinky tofu, it is a food that I could get used to.  It would take a while to get used to it but I’m sure I can.  It’s similar to natto in Japan yet the smell is very different.  I find the smell of natto to be unbearable yet the smell of stinky tofu is no problem, for the most part.  I don’t recommend buying it but if someone wants to try it, by all means give it a try.  A group of 8-10 people can share one order and everyone can get a bite.

Of course there are tons of other foods you can try but these are the main things that I ate.  You should try the beef noodle soup, tea, fried chicken, and so on.  It’s hard to keep things down to just one post and I could probably write a few more posts on the food alone.  I only went to Taiwan for 5 days and in that time I ate a lot of different things.  If you do go, you can satiate yourself for a good 3 days before things start to get repetitive.  Be sure to try as much as possible and be adventurous.

Food in Taiwan is part of a multi part series of my trip to Taiwan.  Please continue reading about  Taipei and Danshui, Taiwan.

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

Fast Food Hamburgers (Japanese Fusion Style) August 30, 2011

Posted by Dru in Food.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Fast Food Hamburgers (Japanese Fusion Style)” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-s5

I mentioned that fast food burgers are a fusion of American and Japanese style foods.  In this post, I focus a lot more on the more traditional style of fast food burgers in Japan.  While they may not be as unique in the burger department, they do offer some interesting fare that should be checked out.
First Kitchen is to variety as MOS Burger is to quality.  First Kitchen has the largest variety of menu items of any of the major fast food retailers in Japan.  The standard fare at First Kitchen is the burgers.  Their unique take on the traditional burger is to slap a fried egg on top of everything.  The entire burger feels more westernized, in other words, dripping in grease.  It’s a nice way to enjoy a burger, but if you are thinking about a diet in any way, this place is the last place you want to go for a burger, aside from Lotteria, but I’ll get into that in a minute.  First Kitchen also has a variety of pasta dishes, hot dogs, and french fries.  Do be aware that there are two styles of First Kitchen shops.  One is the stand alone shop, which offers more variety, and then there is the shopping mall shop, which is more akin to a basic shop without as many options.  For me, the biggest draw has to be the french fries.  Unlike the other shops, First Kitchen offers various flavour powders.  The menu will be in Japanese, but they do have basic flavours such as barbecue.  Some of the more basic flavours you should try are the cream corn (corn pottage), consommé, and black pepper.  There are many more, and I’d highly recommend just ordering a bunch among friends and digging in.  They also offer free dipping sauces for fries, or you can add it to a burger if you wish.  These are usually located in the sauce bar near the cashiers, or trash bins, but not on top of the trash.  Basic flavours such as ketchup and barbecue are offered, but so are garlic mayonnaise and spicy mentaiko (fish eggs) mayonnaise.  It may sound disgusting, but it isn’t bad.  Like the fries, just grab a bunch that sound nice and try it out.  The powder/dipping sauce combination will vary and I have never found a single dipping sauce that goes well with every flavour of french fries.

Lotteria is not exactly a Japanese fast food chain, but rather a Japanese-Korean one.  Lotte, the parent company, was started by a Korean man in Japan, before expanding into Korea.  Lotte is a dominant force in both South Korea and Japan, but the Lotteria chain is bigger in Korea.  Personally, I’m not a big fan of Lotteria.  Their burgers tend to be greasy, but they tend to change their menu often.  In general, their menu isn’t spectacular either.  It tends to be more middle ground than anything special.  They do have your typical Teriyaki Burger and Shrimp Burger.  They also add an egg on top if you’d like.  French fries and fried chicken is also on the menu, but these are also basic items.  There is generally more variety than McDonald’s, but they lack the ingenuity to create truly unique products.  McDonald’s Japan has a better chance at making unique products.  All in all, it’s nice to visit Lotteria from time to time, but in reality, I find it mediocre at best.

McDonald’s in Japan is like any other McDonald’s in the world.  They haven their own set menu, plus regional specialties.  Ronald is also a short Asian guy in Japan, compared to the tall American that you see in commercials.  The major menu items such as a Big Mac and Quarter Pounder are the same, but add a Shrimp Fillet-O and Chicken Fillet-O, and a Teriyaki Burger to the menu and you have McDonald’s main menu.  Each month, they also add limited edition burgers.  These vary from month to month, but every September, they release the Tsukimi Burger.  This is a basic burger with a fried egg on top.  It is one of their better offerings.  If you are in Japan for a longer visit, do check out McDonald’s and see if there is anything interesting that month.  You never know what you’ll find, and you may be in for a treat.

Fast food in Japan is great.  It can be healthier, but the options are there if you know where to look.  It’s also very easy to order.  Most shops have English menus as well.  Unlike restaurants, most shops have picture menus at the cashier, so you can easily point to what you want.  Generally, I only have problems when they ask something unusual such as “what flavour fries do you want”.  If anything, just follow some of the links and you’ll get all the information you need.

Fast Food Information:

First Kitchen (Main Site – Japanese): http://www.first-kitchen.co.jp/
First Kitchen (Menu – Japanese with some English information): http://www.first-kitchen.co.jp/house_shop/
First Kitchen (Shopping Centre Menu – Japanese): http://www.first-kitchen.co.jp/shopping_center/
First Kitchen (Wikipedia – Very basic information): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Kitchen

Lotteria (Main Site – Japanese): http://www.lotteria.jp/index.html
Lotteria (Menu – Japanese): http://www.lotteria.jp/servicemenu/burgermenu.html
Lotteria (Wikipedia – English): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotteria

McDonald’s (Main Site – Japanese): http://www.mcdonalds.co.jp/
McDonald’s Regular Menu: http://www.mcdonalds.co.jp/menu/regular/index.html

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

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