What do you do if you live in or around Tokyo, in a tiny little apartment without a kitchen? You certainly have a hot water pot and a rice maker (this is equivalent of a coffee maker and a microwave), but for dinner you certainly can’t eat out all the time – that would break you financially.
You can eat ramen from the Japanese equivalents of 7-11 or, if you want something more substantial, healthful, or downright delicious, you might pick up dinner in the basement of a “Depah-to” or department store. That sounds depressing it you are thinking of the bedding displays or clearance tableware or end of season decorations one often finds in the basements of American department stores. Not so in Tokyo.
The basement level is what delis would look like if Willy Wonka had been into savory foods instead of sweet. This is the depachika.
I almost drove my family crazy walking around the counters looking at the prepared foods of the world. Not just Japanese, but French, Italian, Chinese, Korean and on and on. The Japanese have no problem facing the fact that their meat comes from animals. Even in this shiny setting there were whole pig haunches of prosciutto, trotter still attached, on display in glass-walled cool rooms. Or roasted and bar-b-qued poultry with feet and heads still in place. A guarantee of quality to be sure.
Tavin and Alec were happy with a little sushi, or grilled chicken skewers. I wanted to try everything – but knew I couldn’t, so had to choose something. Agonizing and exciting – I could have just toured the food halls of Tokyo and been happy. The highlight for Tavin was when he got to exercise his budding Japanese to the point of ordering his own dinner. Hey, if you can speak food wherever you go, you’ll be OK.
The Japanese continued to prove themselves the master of over and precious packaging – all the way down to the tiny little blue-ice packs that come with your “self-catering” sushi.
We picked up drinks on the way home (purple Kagome for Tavin), spread out, and sat back to watch Japanese TV. (The best on that is yet to come!)