It's Lunch Time

Japan Hour

Japan Hour - Summer
It's Lunch Time


Japan Hour:

It's Lunch Time

Join us in our search for interesting local food around Japan. Our first location is the town of Nakashibetsu in Hokkaido. There are several dairy farms here so we are keen to find out what sort of dairy cuisine it offers. After walking around for nearly an hour, we finally meet Katsumi Aoki, a dairy farmer with 32 years of experience. His farm spans 90 hectares and boasts 250 Holstein cows. Each cow produces about 35 litres of milk a day. 

Mr Aoki tells us that his family used to make milk tofu in the past. It is made from the milk of a cow which has just given birth. The milk is thick and has a higher concentration of protein, fat and nutrition. It is first heated in a pot and vinegar is added. The milk then solidifies, giving it a texture of tofu. It tastes similar to cheese.

After this, we head to the centre of Nakashibetsu by car. We go to a Chinese restaurant called Ryuho. It was established in 1981 and its owner, Tsuyoshi Ohashi, has been in this trade for 50 years. He shows us how he prepares a local speciality, milky ramen. Onions, minced meat and bean sprouts are stir-fried, after which a light-tasting pork bone soup and local Nakashibetsu milk are added. He uses thick egg noodles from Asahikawa for the dish, which also includes homemade miso and ginger. Milky ramen came about 11 years ago when milk products were on the decline. The dish was created with the cooperation of the town hall, commerce and industrial association, and agricultural cooperative. 

We continue our “meal investigation” and drop by a hair salon next. It is owned by hairstylist Hiromi Ueda and her husband Kouri, who is a barber. The Uedas agree to show us their dinner after the shop closes at 7pm. Their residence is just above the salon. Mrs Ueda prepares a thick and creamy stew using Nakashibetsu milk. It includes potatoes, carrots, broccoli and corn. She adds thick roux blocks and powdered roux as she loves the extra-rich flavour. Mrs Ueda also makes some Hokkaido-style fried chicken, which is seasoned with soy sauce, ginger and sake.

Our next destination is Tokyo and this time, we visit an unlikely spot, a laundromat. It is located in an urban residential area near Gakugei-daigaku Station. Freddy Leck sein Waschsalon Tokyo, a stylish laundromat, is a 10-minute walk from the station. The store’s manager, Tomoki Matsunobe, tells us that up to 200 customers come to the laundromat each day. The very first Freddy Leck sein Waschsalon was established in Berlin about 10 years ago. It is owned by German actor Freddy Leck. The Tokyo branch, the first in Japan, opened its doors in July last year.   

Freddy Leck sein Waschsalon Tokyo always has staff present to assist customers. The shop has unique washing machines, such as those for washing and drying sneakers. It also provides laundry bags of different sizes. You can put your laundry in the bags and leave them with the staff. They will get the items washed, dried and even folded before returning them to you. In addition, while waiting for one’s clothes to be washed and dried, one can order drinks and light meals at a cafe inside the laundromat.

As part of our “meal investigation”, we ask Mr Matsunobe to show us his lunch. Prepared by his wife Kaori, the packed meal includes salted rice balls, tofu hamburger, sweet potatoes, sausages and Japanese omelette. We also chat with a customer, Akitaka Miyasaka, who lives in the neighbourhood. We head to his home to see what he is having for dinner. His wife, Erina, cooks curry with chicken and onions; spinach cream soup; tomato salad; and fried rice which includes hijiki seaweed, green onions, egg and dried young sardines.  

1) A must-try local speciality of Nakashibetsu in Hokkaido is milky ramen
2) Visit the stylish laundromat Freddy Leck sein Waschsalon Tokyo, where you can relax in its cafe while waiting for your clothes to be washed and dried