We met up for coffee today with Kaoko, a friend we know from Vancouver who has moved back home to Japan and lives pretty close to Megu coincidentally. We headed to local coffee chain, Komeda, which is pretty much the starbucks of Nagoya. The drinks are quite simple and a bit pricey, but you get a full booth table and can stay as long as you want, so you're basically just paying the rent. Here's a shot of my lemon soda drink which was about $5 or $6 bucks but made with fresh lemons. It was randomly made so sweet I diluted it 100%+ to make it refreshing.
Megu ordered a Mandarin orange drink which was veered away from sweet and was more acidic and bitter, the likes of which you'd rarely find in north america.
That probably helped it survive the 5+ hours we went at Komeda catching up with Kaoko. Here's a pic of her and a shot of the interior of the store to give you the vibe.
Obviously after a few hours I was starving, so I ordered a beef stew which was great, but kinda on the small side.
Megu ordered pork cutlets topped with yummy miso sauce and a veritable mountain of cabbage, which you could top with one of a pair of dressing options.
Vegetables are literally 4 to 10 times more expensive in Japan. I am not exaggerating. We bought a single head of garlic grown in Japan for naanchos which was 258 yen, so over $3 canadian dollars. Ever notice how Japanese food basically doesn't really incorporate any vegetables? Sushi, Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, Ramen, Karaage, Kushiage, Gyoza, Yakitori. You name it, most Japanese foods are noodles or rice with meat/fish and virtually no veggies, I assume because land is very scarce and so it's expensive to grow veggies. At least in Vancouver you can find ramen with a boatload of vegetables.
Long story short, I wasn't expecting to miss Vancouver vegetables but I totally do. You can save quite a bit of money being a vegetarian in Vancouver but in Japan I think it'd cost you an arm and a leg.
Later that night, Megu, her brother and I drove out to eat ramen, my first Japanese ramen experience! I was pretty stoked.
You actually order your ramen and pay into a machine that looks like a soda dispensing machine.
Recommendations of which toppings to take are included on a small board on the side.
Once inside you are greeted by honestly the most genuine service I've ever had. Japanese service is amazing. Like embarassingly amazing. Like you feel bad they're this nice to you. I'm stunned by it but it seems a lot of Japanese people take it for granted. They will say thank you and full on bow half way over to show their appreciation.
You also need to specify how you'd like your noodles done, anywhere from raw to mushy! Never seen this in Vancouver.
Everyone simply sits along the bar which wraps around the restaurant, no booth sitting at all!
I ordered Miso Tonkotsu (not to be confused with tonkatsu, pork cutlet!). Tonkotsu is a soup base made by boiling pork bones, fat and cartilage until it's a creamy soup base that seriously rivals gravy (paraphrasing wiki here). Add Nagoya red miso to the mix and it's even richer. Amazing!!!
They have a number of pots up top from where you're sitting (look two pictures ago) where you can add as much toppings as you want. Fresh garlic? Yes please!!!
Kaoko had a few things she left in Canada which we brought home for her, and she bought us a cake as thanks! Soooo good! Thanks Kaoko!