Sunday, April 29, 2012

Best Boxed Lunch EVER- Japan

I'm sure you've been given a boxed lunch at a business event before, right?
Cardboard box, soggy sandwich, chips you shouldn't eat, a cookie big enough for three, nothing but enough to put you into a carb stupor the rest of the day. What a great way to do business in America eh?

So, how happy was I when I received this 'box lunch' in Japan on a recent business trip?
Very, very happy. Smug happy. All mine happy.

I was ready for lunch when the doors opened and two of the office ladies came in lugging a huge cardboard box between. They were struggling, it obviously was very heavy.  They had to get one of the guys to help hoist it onto the banquet table. They left the room quietly (probably catching their breath...) to return with another. Wow! What the heck is in there?

Inside each large cardboard box was eight big lacquered boxes, probably measuring 10x17 inches.  Each shiny box was delivered to the table where we'd spent the morning concentrating on data, charts and discussing future situations. These boxes were pristine, not a scratch or chip in the finish. I immediately wanted to keep mine... forever.  I lifted my lid, not sure what to expect, hoping for the best.

Inside revealed six compartments, each containing a beautiful Japanese china dish. Uh oh, now I wanted the little dishes too. Dish envy. 

The food was artistically placed, there was no dribbles or leakage from any of the dishes. If I hadn't seen those gals struggling with that big box (and I know that they came up the stairs with it too) I wouldn't have believed a lunch like that would arrive in such perfect condition.  

The box contained:
1) Tender Meat dumplings with a peanut sauce
2) Pork with Cabbage (one of the few spicy dishes I had in Japan)
3) Beef with Broccoli and Baby Corn
4) Perfect rice with pickled radish and sesame seeds.
5) Tender sliced chicken over salad with a perfect, glorious strawberry.
6) Tofu in a wonderful brown sauce

I ate every single bite.

There is just something special about Japan. Perfectly done, each detail thought through and beautifully done.  This is a place to visit and enjoy.

Here are a couple more images from my trip:

Cherry Blossoms in Niigata, they were finished in Tokyo, but it was still cool enough up in Northern Japan to view them in late April.

Outside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, I walked in the park early one morning in the rising sun and mist in the gardens.  A perfect way to start your day and get over your jet lag.

Also the picture below is from the same Imperial Palace Gardens, very close to Tokyo Station.

While you are in Tokyo, you MUST try a Tokyo Banana cookie!  There are many "all banana" varieties, but the banana cream filled sponge cake is my favorite. The Japanese make the most delicious cookies I have ever tried, go there and eat cookies.... many, many cookies.  I brought back a couple of boxes to share, they come at a price we don't usually spend for cookies. I paid about 953 yen, which is about $11.00, for 8 cookies.  Worth it, totally worth it.

Here's my bed at the traditional hotel we stayed in for one night. Way more comfortable than you would think, though it might have been the sake night cap. Or maybe it was the evening of singing karaoke wearing the hotel provided yakata (Summer Kimono) that everyone (I mean everyone!) wears to dinner. The hardest part of that bed?  Trying to get out of bed in the morning. My advice? Roll out of bed onto your hands and knees and slowly try to rise. It's not that I am old, but maybe a little stiff in the morning, and this bed is very, very low to the ground.  I don't believe it would be possible to jump out of this kind of bed.

I did manage to roll out about 6am and go to the Hot Springs in the hotel grounds. Bathing garments are NOT an option, so I got naked with about 12 of my closest, Japanese grandma friends and got to scrubbing. 
That will clear any cobwebs from your mind! 
Wash, scrub and enter the hot springs.  It was posted as 40 degrees Celsius, so of course, I doubled it and added 30; you did know that's how to convert to Fahrenheit, right? 
Hot, Wonderful, relaxing and invigorating at the same time.
After a very hot soak, you get out and do more scrubbing and washing.  
Obviously I don't have any pictures of that experience!

Here I am waiting for the bullet train back to Tokyo!

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow! What fun. Reading this makes me want to go to Japan and I can't say that has been on my list before now.