Was published here as a guest post, decided to share it here too!
Japan is a mysterious and wondrous place that I believe that everyone should check out at least once throughout their life. The beauty of the island can bring almost a tear to one’s eye. But after seeing the sights of the day, there is a common theme that everyone loves to do in Japan. Go out to eat! Many times the locals will visit a local izakaya, which is similar to a gastropub. You can sit in the midst of the locals while ordering popular dishes like yakisoba, yakitori, okonomiyaki, ramen, sushi or even get some western delicacies like a hamburger (which isn’t the same as you’re used to) or a pizza.
In many of these izakaya’s (and many restaurants), you’ll find an option where you can drink yourself under the table for 90 minutes of non-stop drinks. It’s called nomihodai. It’s a favorite choice for the locals, but it’s something that westerns are anxious to try as they’ve never heard of such a thing, and because of that, you can almost see the cringe in the person’s face who owns the izakaya/restaurant when a group of westerns orders nomihodai. Japanese usually use some restraint when ordering nomihodai (not all mind you), westerns will leave not remembering how they got there.
Nomihodai usually costs (depending on the location) around ¥1,500 to ¥2,500 yen or around $15 to $25. There is usually different levels of nomihodai you can purchase. There are usually two distinct options; you can get all you can drink shochu highball soda drinks, wine and happoshu beer (or what I like to call fake beer). Then there is usually an option where you can order sake and nama biru, which is draft beer (or what I like to call REAL beer), I would say unless you’re a wine drinker you should take the second option, your liver will thank you.
Many of the times you’ll be required to have a certain amount of people in your group order nomihodai as well as having a minimum food order. So as you may think ordering a nomihodai could be the best bet, you’ll have to factor in multiple people and food order. So if you’re planning on going out with a group and ordering food, this would no doubt be your best bet. But, still, in the end, you’ll quickly put away $30-$50 a person for the night, which honestly is still not too bad considering you’re drowning your liver in lushish alcohol for 120 minutes non-stop WHILE eating.
But for those who don’t have that type of money but still want to have their alcohol kick and go out for the night, there is another trick that even local Japanese people don’t give much thought of, and it’s called pre-game. Well, at least that’s what some Americans here in Japan told me it’s called and they even admitted they don’t do it (but now are). Pre-game drinking is where you go to a コンビニ (convenience store) or a スーパー (supermarket) and purchase your beer or alcohol there first. The difference in price is pretty substantial. When you order a single beer in about any restaurant, a 12 oz glass of beer usually will run you about $5-$8. Where as you can get yourself a 16 oz can of beer from a スーパー (supermarket) for about $2.20 to $3 and about $2.90 to $3.60 at a コンビニ (convenience store).
So you can easily purchase around $10 in liquor and drink one or two of them before entering and then “step out” of the restaurant when you want to crack the next one and down it and go back in. I will never personally open a beer inside their business as I believe that’s stepping over the line, and perhaps this way of drinking for less in Japan might bend people’s ethic muscles a bit. I think it’s fair enough though, and people bring their own cigarettes so why not bring your own beer and step out for a minute? So when you save that extra money, you’ll be able to order more food in the long run, or not have to order as much just to drink while drinking out in Japan. Thus, saving you TONS of money drinking while in Japan.
A few weeks ago when one of our friends was leaving for Winter vacation, we decided to go to a pancake restaurant that also had dutch babies. Here are some pictures of the display dutch babies as well as the ones my friend and I ordered. They were a bit thin, and they used mozzarella cheese which did not taste good with it. I also prefer to eat my dutch babies with ketchup, like an American ^_^ but they gave me honey. And my friends dutch baby was a salad, so she got dressing.
This morning I woke up with the idea and the motivation to use our rice cooker to make a dutch baby. It was a little bit difficult because our rice cooker kept on switching to keep warm, and I did have to flip it, but overall it came out good and was totally worth the effort ^_^ It may not look absolutely beautiful, but it tastes like a dutch baby should, thick and fluffy ^_^ Maybe we will make these with our friend when she returns so that she can taste what a real dutch baby is like ^_^ I also melted some cheddar cheese on top and ate it with ketchup and sriracha sauce ^_^ I can barely tell right now that I am in Japan and not in America ^_^ Life is good ^_^
The recipe and directions are as follows:
7 eggs, 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp of cinnamon, 2 TBSP of butter, cheddar cheese. First I whisked the eggs, then added the milk and vanilla and whisked some more. Then I added the cinnamon and flour a little bit at a time while whisking. At home I would use a blender, but this time I just used a fork. Lots of whisking ^_^ I then melted 2 TBSP of butter in the rice cooker and once it was melted, I swirled it around to coat the pan a bit, then poured some of the batter in. I did not want to pour all of it in case it rose a lot and also to make sure it would be able to cook fully, so about half, but I honestly (accidentally) poured a bit more than half, but it still turned out alright ^_^ I would say that it still took about an hour to cook which is about how long it takes in an oven in America, but it depends on your rice cooker I guess. Just keep checking on it, and flip it if and when it needs, and after flipping it, you can put some cheddar cheese on the top to melt ^_^
This last Sunday a friend of my wife and I whose living in the same shared housing unit went to a game in Hakata, Fukuoka (Japan). We first went to the Yahoo! Dome and watched the Softbank Hawks take on a win against the Hanshin Tigers. I guess A LOT of people like the Hanshin Tigers and it was a big turn out and there were almost more Tiger uniforms running around then Softbank hawks, so it was fun to watch them lose :D.
Baseball in Japan is certainly different then in America (for me at least), where I’m use to going to Coorsfield and watching the Colorado Rockies lose to the Arizona Diamondbacks over and over again while taking a nap, waking up and having a hot dog and a beer. Here in Japan everyone is chants, playing trumpets and waving flags…. Constantly! So even if you wanted to take a nap, there is no way it would happen. It’s much like how a football game would go say at Mile-High Stadium in Denver when the Bronco’s are having a good season.
The end results was Hanshin Tiger’s 2 and the Softbank Hawks 5. I have to say though, I saw some really amazing plays that I would expect to see on a YouTube compliation video of the big leagues. Funny enough, it must be a Japanese thing, I saw a throw similar to what Ichiro did in the States by the left field player by the Softbank Hawks, but except it was to Homebase instead of 3rd base. (see video).
Then we took off to Fukuoka tower, took a couple pictures and decided to NOT pay the $8 fee to go to the top. I’ve been a top of several different high buildings and although it is the highest building in Kyushu, I couldn’t say I wanted to pay $16 to see it at the moment. Although, I’ll have to say I’ll just leave it be so as to have something to do at a later time and perhaps at night instead of day time. The top has been called lovers sanctuary, it’s where a lot of couples go to clip a bike lock with their signatures on it on a bar at the top to “solidify” their bond together. So it’s really popular for that, and of course it’s quite a big tourist trap for sure.
Next we went across the street where a Marina is located, it had a few restaurants and a few interesting little shops, but we were mostly interested in getting our shoes off and walking in the seashell littered sands that felt awesome on our feet from standing and walking all day. I’d say it’s a great 1-2-3 punch for a day out in Hakata, Fukuoka. I would certainly recommended. After we were finished for the day we went back to Hakata JR Station and found out there is a ramen shop area on the 2nd floor… (Hakata JR Station is HUGE!!).