Portion sizes- One of the first things we noticed was the the portion size in Japan. A "large" in Japan is comparable to a US "small-medium". I used to think this was too small, but in reality, it was probably just the right amount.
Mitsuya Cider- One of the best things about Japan is the selection of drinks they offer, and how easily accessible vending machines are. Most vending machine drinks range from ¥100-¥150.
Mitsuya Cider- One of my favorite drinks in Japan is called Mitsuya Cider. It's difficult for me to pick a comparable flavor, but I'd say it's a hybrid between Ginger Ale and Sprite. A carbonated drink that's perfect on a warm spring day. (They now sell Mitsuya Cider All Zero- I'm assuming for no calories? However, I didn't get to try it, but will have to try it next time...)
Vitamin C.C. Lemon- A carbonated lemon-flavored soft drink. Interesting fact- The Simpsons (in Japan) always feature CC Lemon on their TV show.
I love how everything in Japan is a mini-version of the ones in the US
Yakult- One of my favorite drinks since I was a child. This is a Japanese probiotic drink with a yogurt taste. It is so SO good! They usually come in a pack of 4-5, and can be found in grocery stores and convenience stores. They are teeny tiny. (I've been able to find them at my larger Asian grocery store back home.)
Even my grandfather drinks Yakult!
Yakult Soda- It has a refreshing taste and not too sweet. It claims it has a "yogurt" taste- I guess so? Regardless, this version here is the carbonated "soda" version, and I drank it in 3 swigs. It was awesome.
Japanese teas- I love cold unsweetened teas, and Asian ones are my favorite. There is a distinct flavor difference between unsweetened American tea and unsweetened Japanese tea. Oolong tea (Chinese tea) was one of my favorites growing up and still is to this day. (Other good ones to try are: Honcha and Mugicha.)
Real Gold (energy) drink- I used to love drinking "Real Gold" drinks when I was a child. It has a sweet taste and are known to give you an energy-boost. Now that I've tasted it again, the taste distinctly reminds me of Red Bull... hmm, not sure if it was the best drink for me at the age of 8yo?
CALPIS (カルピス, Karupisu)- This is a Japaneese uncarbonated drink that has a creamy white color and light yogurt taste. The drink is sold as a concentrate, and you add water to it. It is nice because it doesn't need to be refrigerated. When I was a child, it came in the regular flavor, but now there are multitude of flavors- Grape, Melon, Orange, etc. I love Calpis, and whenever I get to drink it, I look like this:
(Not my photo, but I sure wish my Calpis drink was that big!)
CALPIS Soda- This is just like the drink CALPIS, but just carbonated. Yum!
Pocari Sweat- This is Japan's version of Gatorade, which includes electrolytes and is often seen in sports ads. It is a low-calorie drink that helps replenish electrolytes. It has a mild flavor, which I really like.
Kirin Free Beer- I had read about this in a magazine, and had to give it a try. Kirin Free is 100% free of alcohol. Since I can't drink, I wanted to just give it a try and see what it tasted like. Recap- it tasted like beer-flavored soda. I took a sip, and threw out the rest.
The "beer" even looked like real beer
Doritos- Mayonnaise flavor- Tasted like old cheese. Blech
Doritos- Pizza flavor- Weak pizza flavor (and weak color too)
Bisco- Japanese biscuits with a sweet cream filling. This bag has both the regular and Strawberry biscuits. We love these snacks!
Darin loves Chicken Karaage (Japanese deep-fried chicken bites which have a ginger-garlic taste to them)
Onigiri (Japanse rice balls wrapped in seaweed and filled with, for example, salmon, tuna mayo, umeboshi- Japanese pickled plum, etc.)
Yakisoba Roll- Yakisoba are Japanese pan-fried noodles, which is one of Darin's favorite dishes. This "sandwich" is yakisoba noodles inside a bread roll (= carbs + carbs)
Croquette Roll- Croquettes are usually made of potato, covered in Japanese panko breadcrumbs, and then deep-fried. This "sandwich" includes croquettes, Japanese mayo, and some tonkatsu sauce
Japanese mayo, or....?- When I first saw this, I immediately thought it was Japanese mayo. Same container, same red top.... but actually, it is Japanese pudding! You unscrew the red top, and just "squirt" it in your mouth. No spoon necessary!
Cream pan (Cream/custard filled bread)- I could eat this every day
Aloe Vera yogurt- It had chunks of soft aloe vera inside. I actually really enjoyed this and it tasted refreshing
Japanese snacks- The selection of Japanese snacks is huge. Not only is the selection large, but the flavor selection is large as well: Mango, Pineapple, Apple Ginger Ale, Shaved Ice, etc
I know we have rows of potato chips in the US, but the Japanese (despite their smaller grocery stores) can definitely compete. What's interesting are the differences between flavors, especially in salty/savory snacks and chips- Flavors can range from Beef consomme, Corn chower, Wasabi, Mayo, Spaghetti, etc
Beef Consomme Cheetos
Mayonnaise-flavored crunchy snacks
Green tea-flavored puff corn
Honey-flavored puff corn
Japanese foods in general cost way more than the US. For instance, cheese (block cheese, cream cheese, etc.) is extremely expensive (and thus, I brought a lot of it with them to Japan as gifts). See these chocolate chips? See how little volume you get? This cost $1.30. It may have only contained a small handful
In most of the grocery stores, you had to bag your own groceries. There usually is a separate "grocery bagging" area after your pay for your groceries. In efforts to be more eco-friendly, you can purchase a grocery basket and use that to shop and bring your groceries home (or use eco-friendly bags)
Japanese bento- My aunt Sumiyo always packs my uncle's and her son Masato's lunch every morning. I wish I could have this for lunch everyday!
LEFT- The bottom has a soy sauce-dipped seaweed topped with rice and furikake, which is a Japanese topping to place on top of rice. RIGHT- Assortment of grilled salmon, broccoli, Japanese sausage, Cheese Hanpen, and grilled chicken
I love Cheese Hanpen, which is a fish-based food product with mild cheese inside
This bento box has a place for chopsticks on top, and then it just snaps into place
Another bento box she made
Left: Sour umeboshi, Right: Sweet umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums)