Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Give me sushi or Give me death

I think there is a saying that "You can't miss what you don't know." Anyhow, I was thinking along these lines today as I stopped in at the Nijiya Market to get myself a Japanese themed picnic lunch. I was born and raised in Kansas, where we ate catfish, bluegill, crappie, whatever came from the pond. It wasn't until college that I ate some fish that came from the ocean. Now I've been living on the West Coast for around 8ish years and I would totally miss Sushi, even good quality salmon, if I lived anywhere but along a coastline!

Okay, this photo is a bit dated, but I get something to go about once a month!
For lunch today I got Seaweed salad, Takoyaki, an Unagi "bowl" and a chocolate cream puff. This only cost me $11! Price is another reason I love this Japanese Market because when you cut out the overhead of the restaurant business, you get great quality foods at a much lower price. Not to mention that you get to watch butterflies and bees in the grass while you eat your picnic in the park. 

Seaweed Salad, a heaping portion.

Cream Puffs are a very popular dessert at Nijiya.
Some things have changed in the to go section of the market since my last visit. One thing I am happy about is my favorite Takoyaki, which is new and improved. They used to be little triangley dome shaped things, but now they are hearty round balls with 2-3 pieces of octopus in them, not just one. A definite improvement without raising the cost!

Takoyaki comes with mayo on the side for "dipping" and bonito flakes sprinkled all around.
I chose the Unagi tray instead of the Unagi sushi because they cost the same price, but I get 3 more pieces of Unagi in the tray! YUM. That's a deal I can't refuse. It's a little strange that I hate the idea of eel when it's alive, but love the taste when it's cooked and served Japanese style. (I have never butchered an animal personally, but I have gutted a fish. I was not so good at it. I have also defeathered chickens-they do fly without their heads!) The sauce used on the eel is so very umami, and when you add a little bit of pickled ginger and/or wasabi it just hits the spot.

Unagi with rice and egg. Pickled Ginger and wasabi on the side.
Nijiya is actually a chain Supermarket, so maybe there is one nearer to you than you think. I visited a branch in L.A. and it had tasty seafood/sushi to go, the main difference was you could see the cooks making it in the back room! The market in SF has a special offer on the 29th of every month when they give customers 20% off most meats (excluding ham and bacon, I think). I got a nice piece of duck breast to cook for dinner (splurge!) and it was quite tasty. Are there any foods you miss? Something that just isn't quite right, or you can't find? I recently went to a Thai place that served Crab Rangoon. I guess I was always looking in the wrong spot, checking out the Chinese menus, because back in Kansas, Crab Rangoon was a Chinese food thing. I don't care what cuisine made them up though, cause I'm just happy I don't have to miss them anymore.*

I leave you with this last picture. The story of this picture comes about because San Francisco passed a bag law. This law costs consumers 10 cents for each bag 'purchased' from the business. The 10 cents goes to the business to offset the cost of making sure their bags follow the new guidelines of being reusable, recyclable or compostable. If/when you bring your own bags you can avoid this cost entirely. This 10 cent reminder is sometimes a shock to people, but since I have been trying to reduce my bag usage (although if I have to start buying cat litter bags, I'll be sad) I often had my own bag before the law went into effect (and I'm happy to see it remind others to be more aware of what they use).

At the Nijiya Market in Japantown, they don't give you a bag if you don't want one, but the day I shopped they used produce bags to secure your food. I was happy to have a bag for my duck breast (just in case, since it was raw), but it seemed they wanted to stick all my picnic items into separate bags. I appreciate the thoughtfulness and creativity in getting around the law, however, I'll just continue to use less plastic whenever possible. Do you carry your own bags to reuse when shopping? Or just go along with the consumerist society we've become and take a bag for your one item? Just curious....

*The Crab Ragoon doesn't taste the same though. Too much crab and not enough cream cheese! hahaha