The thing about living in a foreign country is that even though you’re surrounded by the most delicious food you’ve ever tasted , you still crave the foods you loved back home.  I could have just sat down to a wonderful spread of the freshest sushi, but my cravings for the good stuff from home still persist.  It’s the cruel irony of living in a foreign country: surrounded by delicious food, but all I want is a grilled cheese sandwich, made with real cheese and wheat bread (both of which are hard to find in Japan and impossible to buy on our island). 

What is it about those nostalgic foods from back home that make foreigners go mad with cravings?  There are countless websites in Japan that cater to foreigners in search of food from their home country.  These websites are also able to charge an arm and a leg because foreigners will pay (remember yesterday’s post where I wrote, “Oh my god, I would pay 50 bucks for a California Fresh right now”).

It’s such a strange phenomenon, living abroad and craving the food you love.  It’s completely different from a normal, everyday craving that you have while living in your home country.  When craving food while living abroad, there’s a sense of longing, futility, and that glorious moment when you make it to a big city and they actually have a place that makes pizza, real pizza, not a cracker with melted cheese on it.  When you finally eat that food you have been craving, no, longing for, there is no better feeling in the world.  “But what about love, Michelle?  You love Khoa, don’t you? Isn’t love the best feeling in the world?”  Hmm, yes, yes it is, but my goodness, eating a long lost piece of pizza has got to be a close second…maybe equal.  (I LOVE YOU, KHOA!!! 🙂 )

Maybe it’s just because I’m really hungry or maybe it’s because I just really want some sharp cheddar cheese, but man, food is great. 

But come on, foreigners, back me up on this one.  Isn’t finally eating the food you have been craving (one of) the best feelings in the world? 

My kingdom for some bread

I was looking through some old posts from a blog that I wrote while I was studying abroad in Japan and I came across this post:

I’m sorry, America, your staple has been out done by the Japanese.

When I first went grocery shopping in Japan, I was disappointed with the lack of wheat bread. I sadly bought a loaf of fluffy white bread instead or my usual favorite, the orowheat bread in the green package. The bread sat on my microwave for a few days, staring at me, reminding me that I don’t really like white bread. I finally decided to eat a slice as a snack, and wow, it was glorious!…

Japanese white bread is great for 6 months, but when you’ve been living away from croissants, baguettes, and wheat bread for two years, your attitude towards that fluffy white stuff will change.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy Japan’s white bread, I really do.  It makes a wonderful BLT.  But when buttery, bleached-flour bread is your only option, you get tired of it. Right now my ultimate craving is for a California Fresh sandwich (turkey breast, avocado, jack cheese, red onion, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, dijon) on a dutch crunch roll from Le Boulanger, a bread and sandwich shop I used to go to at home (I couldn’t find a picture of it on the internet, but if you go to the Le Boulanger homepage, it’s the sandwich that shows up on the front page photo reel).  I usually don’t like to eat dutch crunch bread.  It always cuts up the roof of my mouth and makes my sandwich eating experience less enjoyable.  But the dutch crunch rolls at Le Boulanger are a different story.  They have just the right amount of crunchiness to warrant the “crunch” in their name, but are soft enough to keep you coming back for more bites.  During my visit home to America in February, my last lunch was a California Fresh.  Sitting here typing about my favorite sandwich makes me want it even more.  Oh my god, I would pay 50 bucks for a California Fresh right now!

Woo, calm down, it’s going to be alright.

Anyways….err…in conclusion, Japanese white bread is awesome, but not when it’s your only bread option for two whole years. 


…now off to coax Khoa into trying to make me a mock-up of a California Fresh sandwich.  Bye!

Better than Kobe beef? (Sunday Island Hopping)

Last Sunday, Khoa and I decided to eat one meal on each of the three Oki Douzen Islands.  Here’s a map for reference:

Nakano-shima is also called “Ama”

We started out with a breakfast in Chibu, our island.  Nothing fancy, just some toast with raspberry jam.    

We then took the isokaze (a boat that runs on a set schedule to each of the Douzen islands…it’s like a bus…but it’s a boat).  

The Isokaze

Once we were in Ama (around 15 minutes by boat from Chibu), we ate at a restaurant that serves Oki beef.  

Oki Beef Restaurant

The sign outside reads, “Island born, island raised Oki Beef Shop.”  The cows that dot the hills of Oki are kept to produce baby cows that are sold to ranchers throughout Japan.  It is said that the calves from Oki are some of the most expensive in Japan; many are sold to ranchers in Kobe, which later become Kobe beef.  Some of those cows are kept in Oki and raised to adulthood. The restaurant in Ama is the only place in all of Oki where you can eat Oki beef.  It is said that Oki beef is even better than Kobe beef.  Of course, I hear this from people who live in Oki, but it’s still pretty darn tasty.  Khoa and I both ordered the Yakiniku (grilled meat) lunch set.  Here it is:


Yakiniku Teishoku
Grilled meat lunch set

there is a grill in the middle of the table that you use to cook the Oki beef.


Not only was the food delicious, the dishes used to plate the food were beautiful.  Take a look:


Mouthwateringly delicious, aesthetically pleasing, that lunch had it all.


Since we had a few hours before dinner, we decided to take a walk to Oki Jinja, the largest shinto shrine in Ama.  It’s about a 2.5km walk one way, but after stuffing ourselves silly with Oki Beef, we were happy to take a walk.

Oki Shrine
Oki Shrine
Oki Shrine

After our walk, we still had about an hour left to wait for the boat, so we sat out at the port and ate some soft cream:

Hishiura, Ama’s port

Soft Cream

We then took the isokaze over to Nishinoshima where we ate dinner at Zen Sushi, the same restaurant that I mentioned in this post.  We had the zen chirashi sushi again.  Our bellies full once again, we took the isokaze back to Chibu and relaxed for the rest of the night.

It was such a fun day of island hopping and eating good food.  Maybe we’ll do it again next weekend 😛