There is, culinarily speaking, so much to love about Japan - in particular the tradition of placing menu offerings in restaurant windows. For one thing, one need not be fluent in Japanese to determine if the restaurant is suited to one's taste. For another, all of this food is fantastically fake!!! Fashioned out of plastic, these displays are exact replicas of the genuine articles, right down to the tiny veins on the shrimp. While the quality of craftsmanship varies, as a rule the artistry is incredible. Where does one begin in the effort to duplicate the gelatinous properties of a poached egg? I can only assume that it is some prestigious, private university dedicated exclusively to the fine-food arts.
While this is definitely more a novelty than a food reproduction,
it had me falling in love with Japanese noodle-ry. What is not to
love about this levitating pair of ramen-laden chopsticks? I ask you!
Most of the food replicas look really real and really good enough to eat. Frankly, because I am such a scaredy-cat when it comes to exotic food adventures, I think I would rather eat the wax/plastic/foam rubber offerings than their more intentionally-digestible counterparts.
|Quiz Time: Which one of these is the real food?|
Trick question! They're both real, but would you
actually want to ingest the contents of either tray?
Count me out!
In the face of many insistent pronouncements that McDonald's in Japan outshines its international peers, as staunch abstainers, we saw absolutely no reason to patronize the establishment that we so ably avoid at home. Luckily (or perhaps unluckily - I was hoping to return home a few pounds lighter than when I left as the result of a self-induced starvation diet), there is no dearth of variety and accessibility to tasty fare in Japan, making McDonald's no more than a moot point. Bound and determined to master the use of chopsticks and eat where the locals ate, we ate our fair share of traditional Japanese cuisine but every once in awhile, we got a hankering for something with more familiarity and much less roe.
Following in the tiny footsteps of our fearless tour guide and Japanese sister, we found our way to the first "American" (a term I place quite advisedly between quotation marks) food outlet of our trip.
|OCM Sandwich Factory - Kokura, Japan|
As it turns out, American sandwich bread is not a staple of the Japanese diet; the result is a disheartening absence of sandwiches. Sure, there are a couple of Subway sandwich franchises in the airport terminals but you could spend a good deal of time convincing yourself that your growling stomach was actually saying the words "I hate you! Why are you doing this to me," before finding a proper sandwich after you've gone through Customs.
It is especially sad for me because I have had a lifelong love affair with sandwiches! Honestly, with enough mayonnaise, you could pretty much put anything between two slices of bread and I am liable to make like Shaggy and Scooby and eat the whole thing in one bite. Whenever we play the "If you could only have one food for the rest of your life" game I always choose sandwiches because it is broad enough category to incorporate a bevy of options. At OCM Sandwich Factory, options are not a problem.
Instead of mayonnaise, OCM spreads on the Americana very thickly with vintage food tins, toys, and collectibles.
|At any moment during our meal, I felt like I could make a local call home.|
As much as we appreciated the attention to decor detail, we wanted a sammich!
|Nami and Mary both got grilled chicken and, by the look of things, they were pretty excited.|
We were all excited by the bill; sandwiches were only a few dollars apiece!
I know a few people who add fries to their burgers. Clever. Cliff Huxtable always snuck a few potato chips onto his hoagies. Good thinking. While putting a slab of crispy hashbrowns on a sandwich might not be American, it is pure genius!
There may be an absence of fake food in their window, but OCM Sandwich Factory is a feather in the culinary cap of Japan. If we ever make it back to those golden shores, OCM will be a definite item on our itinerary! What do you like on your sandwich? Do you have a sandwich shop near you that is the very best (let me know, I will travel pretty far for a good sandwich)?
OCM Sandwich Factory
2F Kondo Building #3-6