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Old 10-10-2007, 03:16 PM   #1
Christine Reinhart
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Eating Zone in Japan....any thoughts?

So here's my dilemma....

I'm going to Japan for a one month research trip, and I'm a little concerned about how I am joining to maintain my Zone eating practices when I'm there. Based on my limited knowledge of Japanese cuisine, there should be plenty of fresh fish and vegetables (yeah!). However, for my daily meals I'm wondering how to go about avoiding all the rice, soy sauce, noodles, and tempura, and incorporating some good fats. I was thinking of bringing my own nuts and maybe some olive oil, but a month is a relavtively long time, and I have many other items to pack for the trip. Perhaps some of you know a few things about authentic (as opposed to Westerized) Japanese cuisine that I am naive about? Any thoughts or suggestions about how to keep on Zoning would be much appreciated!

Christine
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Old 10-10-2007, 03:19 PM   #2
Reto Corfu
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Re: Eating Zone in Japan....any thoughts?

don't forget about tofu!

you could do worse than japanese for sure...
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Old 10-10-2007, 03:53 PM   #3
Brandon Oto
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Re: Eating Zone in Japan....any thoughts?

Maybe you could black box raw fish
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Old 10-10-2007, 03:58 PM   #4
Derek Maffett
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Re: Eating Zone in Japan....any thoughts?

You get to go to Japan? No fair!
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Old 10-10-2007, 09:42 PM   #5
Becca Borawski
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Re: Eating Zone in Japan....any thoughts?

Japanese versions of Western food can be pretty entertaining and not at all what we're used to here. I know I had 'spaghetti' when I was there, but it really resembled no Italian food I've ever seen before. I think that was my one attempt at eating non-Japanese outside of hotel room service. Our hotel room service had acceptable Western food available - kinda like high priced Denny's.

There will be PLENTY of seafood available everywhere you go.

Take-out food does not exist, so don't assume you'll be able to order anything in or pick food up to take anywhere. Unless you're grocery shopping, food is not portable there - people just don't get things "to go" ever. The only place I found that let me take food off the premises while I was there was Starbuck's, allowing us to take coffees -- but then we were straddled with carrying the empty cups all day, because there were no public trash cans either (except in Red Light areas).

I don't know what city you'll be in, but in Tokyo the grocery stores were very large and full of fresh produce, meats, seafood, etc.

Make sure you let yourself cheat here and there though -- the noodle shops in Japan are wonderful, and if you can find a good bakery with the little red bean filled cakes made fresh - OMIGOD. Best thing ever.
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Old 10-11-2007, 12:10 AM   #6
Tim Weaver
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Re: Eating Zone in Japan....any thoughts?

I lived there for a year and a half back in 1989-1990. The concept of to-go food, as Becca says, was very foreign. I ate some fries on the subway...once. I learned very quickly.

When I was there, the food that was "fast" was the food least healthy for you (most times). Ramen noodle with pork, beef or other "things", fried rice, Gyoza (fried/steamed dumplings), beer, curried rice, boiled beef on rice...those were the 'fast food', that you ate in the restaurant as quick as you could, then you bailed.

Of course, there are the requisite McDonald's, KFC, Taco Bell, etc. By now, I suspect Subway would be there, but who knows.

Depending on where you'll be, and if you'll be "stationary" (i.e. not travelling all the time), your best bet would be to hit the grocery stores. Chicken was inexpensive, fish affordable and beef not. Pork was OK. Vegetables were OK (carrots, Daikon radish) were OK, fruit was expensive.

Peanut butter can be found, but don't confuse it with brown Miso (as I nearly did).

If you'll be over there for work, and will be working with "locals", ask them to give you a hand. However, if you are there for work, there was (still is??) a strong expectation that after-work drinking and partying would occur.

Finally...Sushi. Over there, our school (I taught English in Tokyo) had several plates of sushi catered at the end of every evening for the teachers. It was always the rolled sushi, cucumber and an inexpensive tuna. From what my Japanese co-workers told me, popping into a sushi bar was (at least at that time) more for a treat than a regular occurrence.

Becca, I agree the manju (beanfilled buncakes) were heavenly. I loved the "Nikkuman" (meat filled version), too. I lived on Fried Rice and Gyoza (all I could afford), with the occasional foray into the Curry Rice and Gyudon (beef over rice) shops. Never developed a liking for the Ramen or Soba, though I would occasionally get it for something different.

I can't believe it's been 18 years since I was there....sometimes it seems like yesterday. I need to go back.
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Last edited by Tim Weaver : 10-11-2007 at 12:13 AM.
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Old 10-11-2007, 01:48 AM   #7
Daniel Washburn
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Re: Eating Zone in Japan....any thoughts?

Christine, I'm not sure if you are staying in a hotel or service apartment with a kitchen, but you can probably go to a local market and find plenty of produce, eggs and meats to fill out your zone diet. I live in Shanghai, and while I wouldn't say China is the same as Japan, I am sure they are similar in what's available. You should be able to get cans of tuna, cartons of eggs, beef, fresh fish, chicken, good veggies and fruits and nuts over there. When you eat out I'd stick with sashimi (no rice) low sodium soy sauce, and avoid noodles and rice whenever possible (which is hard to do in an Asian country).
It shouldn't be too difficult, really. And good luck!
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Old 10-11-2007, 09:41 AM   #8
Christine Reinhart
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Re: Eating Zone in Japan....any thoughts?

Thanks to all of you for your responses. I'm a PhD student and I'll be staying in Inuyama (sort of close to Nagoya) to collect data for my thesis. There is dormatory-style researcher housing for short-term visitors such as myself, so I will have access to a kitchen and the opportunity to prepare my own meals. Never having been to Japan (or any other Asian country for that matter), I wasn't sure what to expect at the local supermarkets/grocery stores. Based on the replies posted thus far, it sounds like I should be alright. And thanks to those of you that recommended your favourite Japanese treats and indulgences. It's a long way to travel, and I love food, so there's no way I'm going to miss out on the good stuff. It may be my only opportunity to go there, so I want to make the best of this experience!
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Old 10-11-2007, 03:33 PM   #9
Gabriel Chapman
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Re: Eating Zone in Japan....any thoughts?

Not sure if you have been there for business/study before, but having worked for a Japanese company for a few years now, learning the basic cultural protocols of Japan prior to going is almost always helpful.

How-to-bow (WFS), while kind of cheezy, is actually a pretty good primer for Japanese business culture and basic etiquette
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Old 10-15-2007, 05:48 PM   #10
Chris Bate
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Re: Eating Zone in Japan....any thoughts?

Looks like people have pretty much wrapped this one up, but I just wanted to chime in.

I was an exchange student for 2 months in Japan over the past summer, but my experience differs slightly in that I lived with a host family and with a very health-obsessed host mother at that. She bought all organic foods and made a mixture of brown and white rice rather than just plain white rice, and had a flaming passion of hatred toward milk.

As of now (from what i deduced), there is sort of an underground movement among many Japanese housewives to stick with the traditional "Japanese diet" of miso soup, rice, fish, etc, and boycott all foods considered Western such as milk and bread, for they consider these foreign foods to be the cause of rising obesity and heart disease rates in Japan. (Sort of random and off-topic ^^) -ahem- back to the topic at hand...

I agree that the grocery stores are a definte go, especially if you have access to a kitchen. Eating paleo/Zone really shouldn't be that much of a problem.

Refusing hospitality from a Japanese can be rude, though, especially when it comes to food, so be adventurous and forget your diet if you go to a friends place to eat (especially if they cook). That's kind of obivous, though.

If you're on one of those hardcore I-absolutely-will-not-break-my-diet days, just say "Dieto chuu" (pronounced 'diet(as in a food diet)-toe(as in a toe on a foot)-chew(as in chewing gum)'). They'll probably understand.

I would reconsider being on any kind of "diet" at all going to a foreign country for a once-and-only time, however. Sure, being reasonable with the types and quantities of foods you eat is all good, but as far as a regimented program like Zone/Paleo that requires constant measuring... that seems to take away from the experience a little. In fact, it might take away from the experience a lot. Don't underestimate the importance of food in experiencing another culture. Relax and loosen up.

Just my two cents.
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