Snacking Tokyo-Style: Plum Onigiri

riceAre you looking for an easy way to jazz up your weekday lunch?

All over Tokyo, food courts and convenience stores sell triangles of sticky rice filled with all sorts of wonderful goodies. Called onigiri, these snacks fit easily in the palm of your hand, are quite filling, and are very affordable – many cost the equivalent of $1 or less. Our whole family enjoyed sampling onigiri filled with pickles, plums, smoked salmon, and even hard boiled eggs. Our favorite were the plum-filled snacks, which we are creating today.

rice mold

Onigiri mold

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Best Lobster Roll in Salem!

dotty-ray-s-lunchFirst things first. A few hours after arriving in Salem, we ventured into a cute little restaurant right off of the touristy Essex Street pedestrian mall. We were able to escape the bright sun while still enjoying the open air, grabbed a quick bite to eat (grilled cheese with fries) and listened to some really excellent live music.

However…

If we weren’t jet lagged, we might have realized before we asked for a table that restaurants in touristy areas also have touristy prices! We passed on the $25 lobster roll. Seriously – who charges $25 for a lobster roll when you can practically see the ocean from the restaurant kitchen? I digress.

Time to contact my good friends GOOGLE and UBER!

A quick web search for the best local lobster roll and where do Salem locals eat pointed us squarely in one direction – Dotty and Ray’s Restaurant. Located about a mile from The Hawthorne Hotel, Dotty and Ray’s is across the river from the touristy town center in residential Salem, where locals live and eat. Google says it’s a 16 minute walk. Uber says it’s a $4 ride. Take your pick, but GO!

For $12.95 you’ll get a lobster roll that’s so generously portioned and delicious, I dare you not to go back the very next day for more (we did!). Look! Look and imagine how delicious this is!
lobster

Casual, delicious, regional home cooking with great service and very reasonable prices -what more does a hungry tourist need? It was fun to watch the staff visiting with other diners in a familiar way; Dotty and Ray’s is clearly the place to catch up on local news over lunch. Even as outsiders, we were welcomed and enjoyed a bit of conversation with our server. It felt a bit clandestine to be the only tourists in a beloved local establishment, as if we’d discovered something too magical to share.

scallops

Scallop Roll

(Magical… Salem… see what I did there?)

Their scallop roll was amazingly sweet and also generously portioned. We substituted the fries for mashed potatoes, which were buttery and wonderful. If you’re in the Salem area, don’t miss out on lunch at the tucked away gem that is Dotty and Rays.

High Protein Peanut Butter Chocolate “Play-Doh”

pb-choc-protein-play-doh

Who says you can’t play with your food?

We’re bringing the whole family into the spirit of “New Year, New You!” by making a super healthy, kid-friendly, high protein snack. This is real food, friends – but don’t worry, your secret is safe with me. Let the kiddos think they’re eating dessert instead of the nutritional equivalent of an expensive protein bar. Win! Win! Continue reading

Tokyo Food Tour! Ramen!

Ramen 3

Shoyu Ramen with Dumplings and Rice

Ah, ramen. There are approximately 80,000 ramen restaurants in Japan. Try to wrap your head around that for a moment… that’s three times the number of McDonald’s restaurants in the entire world. Volumes of cookbooks have been written about ramen, the quintessential Japanese comfort food. Revered chefs from David Chang to Ivan Orkin have perfected their own signature bowls. You haven’t tried a bowl of real ramen yet?

Well, you simply must.

Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we’ll be happy to share a simple and delicious ramen recipe. We need you, our readers, to point us in the right direction! Would you prefer a ramen flavored with soy sauce (Shoyu Ramen) or a broth that’s even saltier (Shio Ramen)? Does a fermented broth (Miso Ramen) sound lovely? Or, would you prefer to go all in with a fatty but delicious pork stock (Tonkotsu Ramen)? They’re all delicious, it’s just a matter of personal taste.

Ramen 1

Many ramen shops have a vending machine such as the one shown here. Customers place their orders and make their payment at the machine, then give a ticket (like a receipt) to the server and wait for their food to arrive.

Vote here, and we’ll create something just for you!

 

Tokyo Food Tour! Uobei Sushi

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Salmon Roe with Cucumber

Is it possible to stumble upon the most fun restaurant in Tokyo during one’s first day in Japan? Let’s put it this way – if I find something more fun than Uobei Sushi in all of Tokyo, I may never go home!

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Spicy Shrimp

My traveling companions and I visited Uobei Sushi in Shibuya, which feels a bit like Times Square in New York City. Upon exiting the Shibuya train station, we were overwhelmed in a fabulous way by the sights and sounds of this booming metropolitan area. The main intersections are a sight to behold. When the crosswalk signals allow, thousands of people cross 5- and 6-way intersections in all directions. Loud music is piped into the intersections, accompanied by flashing advertisements on giant screens mounted on the sides of buildings. Wow.

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Snow Crab with Crab Butter

We may never have found Uobei Sushi without Natsu, a dear local friend who generously helped us navigate our first days in her amazing city. Let’s be honest… without Natsu, we not only would missed out on Uobei Sushi, we might still be standing in the airport!  🙂

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Smelt Roe

Back to Uobei Sushi… it’s fun! It’s casual! It’s very affordable! And it’s DELICIOUS! This isn’t an ordinary restaurant, friends. At Uobei Sushi, customers order from a vast menu of nigiri sushi, rolls, and sides using an iPad. Food is delivered on computerized, high speed conveyor belts that stop right in front of the customer for whom the items are intended!

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Conveyor Belt System

Green tea and ice water are self-serve and complimentary. Most varieties of nigiri sushi are just under $1 (USD equivalent) for 2 pieces. How can I not go back? If I don’t come home, friends, you know where to find me!  🙂

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Tuna and Salmon