Takaoka

Where’s the water? |Nyuzen Ramen Matsuri 2015

You might remember that I went to a ramen festival last year. I ate a lot of good ramen and I was eager to go again. I actually went both days this year because I am very, very committed to eating. This year I interviewed people about the ramen they were eating and put it all together in one article over at The TRAM.

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I tried a total of four ramen over these two days. The first day I split a Hokkaido seafood ramen and a green ramen with the friend. I had the green ramen from Takaoka last year too and I should have remembered that it was good but not mind-blowing. It’s worth trying but I don’t know if I’d go out of my way to get it. The seafood ramen was pretty good, but the broth made me a little sad. I also ate a white ramen from Oyabe which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve eaten white ramen before in Toyama, but I didn’t like it. I think the restaurant was running it as a special dish for a few months, which might explain why they didn’t nail it. The one I ate at the festival, however, was realllyy good. Satisfying, and a little spicy, it was exactly what makes ramen a comfort food.

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Takaoka Green Ramen

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Hokkaido Seafood Ramen

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Oyabe White Ramen

The second day I ate the ramen from Kanazawa which was definitely the best I had! It was meaty and oily and very, very, very unhealthy. I assume that’s why it was so delicious. The meat was almost like bacon instead of the regular chashu that’s served in ramen. It was a little spicy, too. Always a plus. Funny story, my friend asked me to get him an egg since the stall he got his ramen from had none left. When I ordered one ramen with two eggs the guy at the stall was super confused that I would want two eggs. I felt this weird awkward compulsion to explain that “it’s for my friend…ha ha”.  lol.

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After we ate, my friend and I went looking for water. But every vending machine was sold out of anything possibly thirst-quenching. So we went to the nearby convenience store and laughed when we saw that the fridges with drinks were almost completely empty. We ended up buying a large litre bottle of water to share.

All in all, it was a successful day. It’s hard not to be content (although very sleepy) after eating ramen as your day’s main activity. Whenever I go to Oyabe or Kanazawa next, I’m going to try the ramen again!

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Making the best of Japan’s summer heat

It’s no secret that Japan summers are hot, and we arrived just in time for a huge heat wave throughout the country. During the week this means drinking water incessantly while sweltering in office clothing and thanking the universe my apartment has air conditioning. The weekend brought a much appreciated opportunity to venture further in the prefecture and visit the beach in Takaoka. The day held many surprising moments.

Our first stop was a restaurant overlooking the beach called “Torattoria DOCG”. The space was beautiful, with large wooden tables and a wall of windows flooding the dining room with sunlight.

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We each ordered a different pasta, and added the lunch special of salad, bread and ice cream. The food was decidedly Italian, but with touches of Japanese influence. The salad was topped with a characteristic ginger dressing and the tomato and basil pasta I ordered included some incredible Japanese mushrooms. When our desert arrived we were pleasantly surprised to try Japanese sesame ice cream for the first time!

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It’s incredibly ironic that in Canada I almost exclusively at East Asian restaurants and now I’ve eaten mostly non-Japanese style food.

Down at the beach gathering we swam and played to out hearts’ content chasing sand crabs and attempting to keep up with a Yoga class on the beach. Later in the night we were again surrounded by a variety of cultural influences and my presumptions about Japan were challenged by the abundance of dreadlocks and hemp pants. Certainly sitting on the beach listening to a DJ playing Bob Marley, watching a Japanese family’s dance performance and eating Brazilian BBQ and banana donuts was not an experience I anticipated, but that made it all the more enjoyable!

Today was the most stares I’ve gotten as a foreigner, and it was almost comical to have groups of people nudge each other as we walked by. It certainly makes for some interesting encounters, as those with some knowledge of English are eager to say hello. The roles were reversed when I heard Tagalog next to me and excitedly said “kumusta!“… Only to feel embarrassed when I couldn’t actually keep the conversation going. It didn’t seem to matter, as anytime words fail, smiles and bowing always pass the language barrier.

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