Roadside view of a tasty, tasty world
The Japan Times (book review) Sept. 9, 2012
The World’s Best Street Food – Lonely Planet, 2012, 224 pp., $19.99 (paperback)
…Japan has only one measly entry—the ever-reliable takoyaki. After noticing an image of a hormon (beef or pork organ meat) stall gracing the top of the book cover (mistakenly listed as a takoyaki stall in the photo credits)…
To understand how to get the best out of Japanese street foods, keep the following points in mind:
• Shown in the above photo marked with two white question marks and an arrow:
Stay away from the hormon–grilled beef or pork offal that is never refrigerated, often for days. Generally, grilled hormon tastes like my dead grandpa’s tennis shoes soaked in a soy sauce swamp.
•If you sit down at a street cart in the evening, you may pay through the nose since those carts have to pay 20,000+ yen per night to yakuza gangster for the privilege to park in front of the station.
•Like all street food, sanitation is poor. A street vender who is serving with glasses and ceramic bowls never washes them with hot water–just a nasty quick rinse in bucket sitting in the gutter (Japan has the highest rate of h-pylori stomach infections in the developed world).
•As the reviewer said takoyaki, octopus balls (3Yen / 2011-12-09) is an “ever-reliable” choice.
•Yakitori–grilled chicken on a skewer is also good but be careful when buying an assortment of five sticks because one stick usually has a tough, inedible strip of pterodactyl skin and another stick will have rubbery chicken gizzards. Also watch out for the suzume—sparrow-on-skewer—their skulls are splintery and bitter.