By Tana Kosiyabong
I woke up at 9 a.m. to get ready for a two-week trip to Japan and Thailand. After a short morning routine, it was time to say goodbye to my pet parrotlet “Giant.” The poor guy didn’t have a clue that he would be home alone for the next two weeks (except for when a caretaker came by to feed him). Then I dragged my luggage to catch the Canada Line at the Waterfront Station. From there, the train only took 25 minutes to the airport. Thanks Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.
The airport wasn’t as busy as I thought. I got through the check-in line in a breeze. Then I stopped at a currency exchange counter to conduct my own experiment. One valuable lesson I learned from this was I would never exchange my money at the YVR airport again. Compared to the exchange rates in Japan and especially Thailand, I pretty much got robbed here in Vancouver. And on top of that, they added $3.50 service charge to the transaction. I paid no such thing in Japan or Thailand. (If you need to exchange money in Vancouver, there are some currency exchange stores downtown that don’t charge service fees. Just ask first.)
“Tokyo, here I come!” I thought to myself as the plane took off. After three movies, two meals, and a couple of naps later, I landed in Tokyo. Unfortunately, I only had 24-hour transit here. After I got out of the immigration, I hopped on a Keisei limited express train to Nippori, then switched onto JR Joban Line to Minami Senjyu.
Although the Keisei limited express isn’t as fast as the Skyliner, I really love it. The fare costs much less (¥1,000 vs. ¥1,920) and it only takes 15-20 minutes longer to the destination. More importantly, my idea of traveling is to watch local people go about their lives. Keisei limited express offers a 75-minute-front-row seat to Japanese lifestyles at no extra charge.
Once I got off at Minami Senjyu, I barely recognized the neighbourhood. This area has changed rapidly in the last two years. Right next to the station now stood a McDonald’s. So I stepped inside to check out any menu item I couldn’t get here in Canada. “Ebi Filet-O Burger!” I shouted happily. “Cool, I’ve got to try it.”
The name “Ebi Filet-O,” or perhaps Filet-O-Ebi, is a bit misleading. The shrimp patty is made of small shrimps bound together with eggs and wheat flour, then deep-fried until golden brown. It wasn’t a big piece of shrimp filet. But for the price of ¥320 ($4), I didn’t expect it to be. Despite that, the Ebi Filet-O was a home run. The patty had a crispy panko crust, yet soft inside. The small shrimps were juicy and perfectly cook. The sesame seed bun was soft, though I could live without the iceberg lettuce. The mayo based sauce with finely chopped pickles, similar to Heinz sandwich spread, gave the burger a tangy yet creamy sensation. Dammit, I wish I could had another one.
Once I finished the “Ebi Filet-O,” I walked about 15 minutes to the “JuYoh Hotel” to check in. This budget hotel is located on the edge of Taitō-ku, Tokyo (just South of Arakawa). Most of the stores and restaurants in the neighbourhood were closed since 9 p.m. After settled in, I went out to a 7-Eleven store nearby for a bowl of oden. I wasn’t hungry, but I only had 24 hours in Japan. I must eat like there was no tomorrow.
There was an overwhelming number of ingredients in the oden pots. I chose Shirataki (konnyaku) noodles, a big chunk of stewed daikon radish, and hot dog wrapped in fish paste (surimi) for my oden. All the ingredients were put in a small foam cup with dashi broth (possibly made with kelp and dried fish). The whole cup was only ¥255 ($3.19). The price may vary depending on the items you choose for your oden.
The stewed daikon radish was beautifully cooked. It was soft, sweet and savoury. The radish had fully absorbed the flavour of the tasty broth. The hot dog snapped when I sank my teeth in. Its meaty juice dispersed all over my mouth. The surimi was a tad sweet. The Shirataki noodles added interesting chewy texture to the dish. They are also low in calories and high in fibre.
Once the oden had magically disappeared into my body, it was time to work on my 3rd schedule post (Kent’s Kitchen). A couple hours later, I finally finished. My eye lids were as heavy as a pair of 10 lbs dumb bells. I had no choice but turning off the light. Good night my sweet Tokyo.
McDonald’s Ebi Filet-O: ©©©©
7-Eleven Oden: ©©©©
Stay tune for next week story as I desperately searched for a great Cheap Appetite in Tokyo while the time was running out.
Remaining Budget: $332.80
Budget Spent: -$7.19 (4+3.19)
Budget Available: $325.61
NOTE: All food prices in this post are tax included.
©2010 Tana Kosiyabong and CheapAppetite.com™. All rights reserved.