Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sunday Recap!

Wow, time is flying here in Iwakuni. We've already been here for three weeks, made it through a huge national crisis, and Joe's been deployed once! Before more time slips away unnoticed, I decided to start reviewing some of the places I've been, for my own memory and for potential visitors to the area.

Coco's Curry: Our new friends have been raving about the Japanese curry at Coco's and I decided I needed to give it a try. Jesse (another Marine wife) and I went while our husbands were in Korea and I had a really great salad with shredded lettuce, shredded carrots, shredded cabbage, and a tasty ginger/soy sauce dressing that had the consistency of Italian dressing. After salad, I had a traditional Japanese curry. The chef fills half the plate with white rice, places some kind of protein in the middle (I had coconut-fried chicken), and then covers the protein and other side of the plate with a curry that sort of resembles gravy in color and consistency. This meal was really delicious comfort food and very close to base. It's visible from the Iwakuni train station. I definitely need to take Joe!

Ramen: Can't remember the actual name. I went out one afternoon with a new friend I met while doing laundry and we found a really tasty ramen joint. This place didn't have an English menu for easy translating and pointing, so I relied on my friend Miho to order for me. Her favorite is pork and leek ramen, so I decided to give that a try too. It was really good! I wouldn't know how to order it again on my own, but it definitely hit the ball out of the park. The ramen was served in a giant bowl with a lot of broth and thinly sliced pork medallions decorating the outer rim. Leeks and other veggies were on top of the hot broth and noodles. Normally I dread eating noodles in public because they are so awkward to handle, but in Japan it isn't rude to slurp or make noises while eating noodles. This will take some time to get used to for me, but Joe has already jumped in with enthusiasm.

Stance Bar: Last night we went out to celebrate one of Joe's co-workers birthdays at a whiskey bar in town called Stance. It has a gentlemen's club atmosphere with dark wood walls, a bar taking up half of the narrow establishment, and hulking pieces of wooden furniture taking up the remainder of the space. Joe tried a few whiskeys, but I stuck with a Guinness. The guys were also smoking cigars in this place and I will probably leave Joe to fend for himself next time, since it's more of a guy's place.

O-Club: This is just the Officer's Club on base. It's easy to find, easy to walk to, and everyone there speaks English. We went to the O-Club the second Friday we were in Iwakuni and had a chance to meet a lot of great people from base. Lots of Marines go after work and wear their flight suits or camis (camouflauge uniform), so it's a unique experience.

JD's Grille: This is kind of the Applebees of our base. I've tried a Greek salad (served with stuffed grape leaves!), Yakisoba, and Fajita Salad. The Yakisoba was probably the best meal. The Fajita Salad with "grilled steak" was the worst. They use iceberg lettuce, canned vegetables, and the meat was fatty and cold. I feel bad because most of the waitstaff is Japanese and they probably have no idea what the food they are serving should look like. Fajita Salad is probably just as strange to them as egg ramen is to me.

Mister Donut: Really fun donut shop outside the Iwakuni train station. I went here to read one day and found that it was a lot like a Dunkin' Donuts back in the states. There are a lot of friendly older people visiting with each other, and it's just a very relaxed, casual place. They do serve coffee in tiny cups on saucers with coffee spoons, which I thought was fancy. I had a chocolate donut that was pretty dry and boring.

Sato's: This place is only known about by word of mouth. Joe and I had been asking around for good places to get lunch so that we wouldn't have to eat on base for every meal. Everyone kept coming up with the same answer: Sato's! and telling us that we needed to order a BLT. BLTs are one of my favorite food groups, so we went there the next day (Saturday around noon) and it was closed. Not to be discouraged, we went back the next day and it was open. We sat down in this tiny place and an old couple lit their huge stove and put huge slabs of bacon on to fry. It smelled amazing. The tomato was not remarkable, and the bread was just regular American white bread. Together, it was a delicious sandwich that I'll have to go back for sometime. We also had Cokes served in small glass bottles. I'm not sure it lived up to it's hype, but it was a good stop.

Sushi-go-round: This place was great! In the US, I wouldn't normally go out for sushi for dinner because the bill can go out of my comfort zone after trying just a few types of sushi. This place literally has a conveyor belt going around the restaurant, and customers just pull whatever they want off the belt. A friend recommended pressing the buzzer and ordering sushi directly from the sushi chefs because there is really no way to tell how long the food has been orbiting. This was mildly discomforting but definitely a good thing to keep in mind. Each kind of sushi is on a different colored plate and the color of the plate lets you know how much the sushi costs. You simply stack your tiny plates in front of you as you eat and the waiter adds up your total based on numbers and colors of your uncleared plates. Joe and I both left very satisfied for under $20. Very efficient!

Crossroads Food Court: This on-base food court has a Subway, Gyros stand, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut Express, Soba Express (Japanese food), Taco Bell, Baskin Robins, and a coffee shop. It's across the street from where we are living right now and I'm already wishing there was a healthy alternative.

Wow! There were already more places that we've visited than I thought about at first. I'll try to keep updating regularly to remember all these interesting visits.

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