Konnichi Wa, Fort Collins: Culinary Adventures in Japan

Hello again, Fort Collins. I’ve been in Japan now for a week and a half and I’m still having an absurd amount of fun. I can already tell this semester is going to fly by far too quickly.

Ninja Cafe
Waitress at Ninja Cafe, showing us our “Ninja of 5 Rules.”

Anyways, this week, I’m going to touch on the topic of food. Everybody, including me, loves talking about food, and Japan is full of delicious and interesting delicacies for you to chow down on. I’ve eaten at a lot of restaurants since I’ve been here, but two of them stand out so far.

I’ve taken one trip to Kyoto so far, and, while I spent most of my time there exploring temples and huge shopping centers, we also stopped at Ninja Restaurant Kyoto. Not an especially imaginative name, but it does explain the place pretty well: it’s a ninja-themed, buffet-style restaurant where the waiters dress like ninjas, jump out from behind curtains and try and scare you, and fail to amaze you with Fushigi Magic Balls pulled straight from a cheesy infomercial.

Ninjas are my thing, so I was pretty pumped to eat at this place. And I wasn’t disappointed. The ninja waitress told us we had two hours to eat as much as we could, so we chowed down until our stomachs were about to burst. I had my first taste of takoyaki, essentially fried octopus balls, which are beyond delicious. They had a wide variety of drinks as well, including Calpis Soda, a popular carbonated concoction that looks kind of like watered-down milk and tastes like 7-Up. I’m just a fan of the name, which is dangerously, hilariously close to “cow piss.”

Conveyor Belt Sushi
A view of the conveyor belt sushi.

A few days later, we braved a typhoon (we’ve been getting rained on pretty consistently for the last few days) in order to walk to a kaiten-zushi restaurant, which serves sushi to you via the magic of a conveyor belt. You sit in a booth and grab an appetizing-looking plate from the conveyor belt, which circles the entire restaurant. If what you’re seeing isn’t tickling your fancy, there’s a computer screen at your table that lets you custom-order dishes. As if that wasn’t enough, your special-order dishes arrive to you via an adorable, green toy

train. Doesn’t get much better than this, folks.

To add to the fun, the plates cost the equivalent of about one measly buck a piece, for portions you would probably pay 5 to 10 dollars for back in the States. It’s not only dirt-cheap, but it’s good too. Feeling adventurous, I tried some eel and squid plates alongside the more normal salmon and tuna dishes. The eel was delicious, but be wary of squid sushi if you make it to the Land of the Rising Sun. You’re literally eating tentacles, and they’re so hard to bite through and chewy that I wonder why anybody thought they would make good eating material.

Eel and Squid
My eel and squid sushi.

I’m running a little long now, but food is fun to talk about. I’ll certainly revisit the topic again. Until then, though, hope everything’s going well in the States and I’ll post something new next week!