Food: Mabo Dofu

First off, you’ve probably noticed by now that I’ve changed my layout! Same header, but I felt like it was time for a bit of a makeover. Tangentially related: if you want to do a link swap for blogrolls or link pages, let me know! And now on to the real post!

Mabo dofu

A mabo dofu lunch set from a cheap Chinese restaurant in Kawagoe.

Mabo dofu (マーボー豆腐) is actually a Chinese dish (Sichaun), but the Japanese version is a little different and that’s what I’m familiar with. It’s tofu and minced meat (pork or beef) in a spicy bean paste and chili sauce, occasionally with other ingredients such as onions and water chestnuts. In Japan, the sauce also includes sweet bean paste because Japanese cuisine is very mild and spicy food doesn’t have as wide an appeal. I love spicy food myself, but still find the slight kick of Japanese mabo dofu satisfying. It’s also pleasantly easy to make and sauce mix can be found in any Japanese supermarket, which is nice (your local Asian market will probably have it). Really, it’s just a simple, hearty dish that I definitely enjoy.

The skinny:

What: Tofu and minced meat in a spicy bean paste and chili sauce.

Where: Chinese restaurants. Easy to make at home, too.

Cost: I believe that lunch set cost ¥1,000.


Food: Kakigori

Like any blogger worth their salt, sometimes I take pictures of food. Most of the time I forget, but I do have a small album from Japan waiting for my attention. And, given that Seattle actually got a bit of summer, I’ll start with kakigori!


Delicious strawberry kakigori.

Kakigori (かき氷) is Japanese shaved ice. The ice is softer than a snow cone, and sometimes they’re topped with condensed milk, but it’s the same concept. I don’t dig the condensed milk, though. I do dig cola syrup, which happily is on the menu at every kakigori stand at every festival in Japan, but some shops only have standards like strawberry and green tea. That was the case when I stopped in a place outside Ishiteji for the dual purpose of cooling off and finding an unsuspecting Japanese person to pester with temple-related questions. Fortunately, I like strawberry and was the only customer, so Shop Guy, after recovering from the shock of my suspiciously local Japanese, was willing to indulge me. It was a good day. I even remembered to take a picture.

The Skinny:

What: Shaved ice in a cup, flavored with syrup (and condensed milk, if you like that sort of thing), eaten with a spoon. Not quite like a snow cone.

Where: Japanese festivals, coffee shops, convenience stores, etc.

Cost: ¥200 to ¥400 ($3 to $5)

Minor Announcement: I’m off to Salem tomorrow to see my best friends, so it’ll be a blog-less Oregon weekend for me. I’ll be back early next week!