Although all of these breads are delicious, some days I just craved a nice loaf of whole wheat bread that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg. Therefore, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Without an oven (many Japanese homes have historically lacked one), I turned to my trusty rice cooker. I found a "cook anything in your rice cooker" site online and tried to make a very simple bread. This is what it looked like when it was done:
One of the coolest things I ever tried in Japan was inari-zushi, which is basically food stuffed into a fried tofu skin pouch. It sounds weird, but it's delicious. The fried tofu skin pouch (called aburaage) is soaked in a sweetish soy sauce then drained and stuffed with rice or other fillings. My best friend and traveling partner, Sherrie, and I went to a restaurant called Inaricious that focused mostly on serving inari-zushi. This is the beautiful plate that was set before me when I ordered their inari mix.
Finally, another of my favorite Japanese culinary discoveries was okonomiyaki. The word comes from "okonomi," which means "as you like it," and "yaki," which means grilled. Basically, I view it as a pancake made from leftovers. You can throw in veggies, meat, even cheese in addition to the flour and eggs. The one we tried in Kyoto had noodles in it. I think I prefer a more traditional okonomiyaki, especially drizzled with okonomiyaki sauce and topped with katsuoboshi (bonito) flakes. Definitely some Japanese soul food (along with Golden Curry, another one of my favorites!)