So yeah, since it rained so much in Kumamoto (熊本) I just ended up eating food.
1. Mustard lotus root – karashi renkon (からし蓮根)
So lotus root isn’t really a thing in the UK right? It basically has the consistency of something between carrot and potato, and is characterised by the weird holes in it, here, I’ll ‘borrow’ an image from the internet
Karashi Renkon (literally “mustard lotus root”), is lotus root but stuffed with a mix of miso and mustard, and then coated in a light batter and fried, and boy is it delicious. One of Kumamoto prefecture’s signature foods (or “meibutsu” – 名物)
2. Horse meat croquette (桜肉クロケット)
Yup, apparently Kumamoto prefecture is also known for horse meat – usually eaten as sashimi, but also in croquette form – albeit mixed in with potato (which is most of what you can see in the picture). It tasted just like a shepherd’s pie croquette…so yay?
3. Purple sweet potato + anko paste dumpling – ikinari dango (いきなり団子)
Another Kumamoto speciality and oh my god this was delicious. So it’s a purple sweet potato with sweet anko paste around it, and then steamed in a dumpling. It’s incredibly sweet (as you might imagine), the dumpling helps mollify that to an extent – really had to resist the temptation to buy a few more.
So that’s it for the Kumamoto meibutsu, next up just a couple of ordinary things
4. Katsu sauce bites (濃厚ひとくちソースカツ)
So when it comes to drinking, Japan really has their shit together. When you go to any store (convenience store, supermarket), they have a section just for drinking snacks. I think in the UK it’s usually some packs of pork scratchings loosely affiliated with the beer section, but here it’s just like “You’re not going to fool us that these snacks are for later, you’re buying them to eat with this beer/sake/shochu you’re also buying, so lets just group these together so you don’t have to search for them”.
*ahem* anyway, that aside, katsu sauce bites are just little crisp-like things that take the best apart about katsu (the coating + the sauce), and wrap it around some generic surumi (seafood stick stuff) meat.
5. Matcha latte (抹茶ラテ)
So nothing particular special – I think you can get these quite easily in the UK? But damn delicious, and extremely sweet (matcha is normally quite bitter, so they toss in a bunch of sugar syrup to even it out – I think they went a bit too far on this one).