Friday, October 05, 2012

Three local restaurants, three different cuisines

I've eaten sushi, traditional Japanese fare and Indian food - all within a few minutes of MCAS Iwakuni, and all within the past week or so. Here is my take:

Restaurant No. 1 - Akiyama

Rachel and I ate at Akiyama after we went Japanese thrift store shopping. It is a sushi restaurant with a conveyor belt that runs in an oval through the restaurant. On the belt are plates of sushi and other dishes. You sit down and just grab the plates of your choice. There is a displayed key of how much each color of plate costs.

Yellow plates are about $1.60 and black plates are about  $6.70 each.
The picture menu in English was incredibly helpful. I picked out the items I love in the states and tried some Iwakuni specialties, such as Renkon Tempura, which is fried lotus root. Iwakuni is known for its lotus agriculture. Here is what I sampled:

The menu is set up in a very helpful grid.
Ebi, or shrimp, and tea - loved it
Ebifly Roll, or fried shrimp roll - loved it
Iwakuni Renkon Tempura, or fried lotus root - didn't really have a taste. It's the taste of the dipping sauce you use.
Pork roll - tasty put a little dry
Hamachi-teriyaki, or yellowtail fish with teriyaki marinade... and mayonnaise. I loved it.
I also tried salmon sushi, which was pretty good, as well. The tea was all-you-can drink, with a hot water dispenser right at the table. I loved the convenience of this! And if we needed anything, or when we were ready to pay, we just hit a buzzer on our table for service, I know there have been some American restaurants where I would have loved a button like this!

Hot water dispensed! The tea bags are on the table, also.
The "help" button
Restaurant No. 2 - Taj

Our friend Yolanda introduced us to this Indian restaurant on Wednesday ... the first time I have eaten Indian food and it's while I'm in Japan!

The restaurant was small, intimate, and we met the owner, who owns another restaurant in Hiroshima. The food was incredibly tasty, but you had to make sure to order the right spiciness of curry and seasoning. We definitely went with mild. But the best part of the whole meal: the nan (pronounced non). It was a flat bread that was just amazing - light, fluffy and fried, so very little nutritional value, I'm sure, which is how most tasty things are! We tried both the plain and cheesy nan, and I had a dinner salad and chicken tikki. The spouse had chicken curry and the boys had chicken chunks, similar to smaller versions of my tikki.

The menu's nan and rice choices

Something I recognized - salad!
Chicken tikki
My sons chowed down on the nan - we even had to order a second cheesy nan!
Our meal here cost a little over $50, which is pretty comparable to eating out in the states.

Restaurant No. 3 - The Chicken Shack

My car is the one on the left in the Chicken Shack parking lot.
Our friend, Kanoko, and her daughter, Isabelle were in Japan from Atlanta, visiting for the month. Kanoko is married to Joe, a retired Marine the spouse used to work with in Pensacola and it was wonderful to see her last night! Joe was stationed in Iwakuni when he and Kanoko met, so she knew many great places to eat around town, But one of the ones she has missed the most is what the Americans around here call The Chicken Shack. The Japanese call it Sanzuko. While the food was excellent, the restaurant stole the cake when it came to ambiance.

Kanoko recommended the "chicken on a stick," udon noodles, rice "bowls" and dumplings. Everything was delicious! I had not eaten a rice "bowl" quite like the one Kanoko ordered. It was a pillow of rice wrapped in seaweed. It was quite tasty.

Dumplings (I call these potstickers)
Rice bowl, with a pickled radish on top. Isabelle ate that.
Chicken and udon
The boys and their noodles
Rodney is a huge fan of udon.
Isabelle was a huge fan of Xan's chicken.
Rodney was thrilled to find a beer dispensing machine.
The boys as samurais... Will took his role very seriously.
The six of us in front of the Shack's koi pond.
All six of us ate for about 8,200 yen, or about $105, which I thought was quite reasonable.

So that's the "exotic" eating I have enjoyed recently. That's more carbs than I have eaten in month, but I figured that life is too short to miss out on new food experiences in a foreign land. I'll just be sure to eat veggies and lean meats at home for the next few weeks to make up for it!

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