August 31, 2011
My city has experienced the wettest summer in the recorded weather history of Denmark.
Just this morning I woke up to a two hour thunderstorm with the most insane cracks, blitzes and a mustard yellow hazy sky. It felt like some aliens were landing on the planet in giant yellow spaceships. Unfortunately they didn’t, and another boring day began instead. And it keeps on raining. I used to love rain, but after this summer I have come to hate it as much as I hate big crowds, girls’ intimate areas and canned foods. If there is a hell below Denmark its fires must have been put out by now.
Rain reminds me of Tokyo though. The atmosphere you experience in films like Blade Runner or Lost in Translation are very close to what it feels like walking around the city at nighttime in the rain. It’s futuristic and alien–a neon-lit planet of the future. The rain puddles reflect the neon signs and brightly-lit streets and thereby doubling the already intense visions.
An early morning at Yoyogi train crossing. Lots of umbrellas so watch your eye balls for pointy spikes.
Back when I went to school in Tokyo everyone’s recess/break snack was the onigiri (the nori seaweed-wrapped ball of rice with something inside it). Right next to the school there was a Lawson konbini (convenience store) and as soon as the bell rang we all went down to hang out and eat/smoke/chat in front of the konbini. And onigiris are the perfect thing to eat while you’re just hanging out on a street corner. You can eat it with one hand, it’s healthy and it’s super cheap.
Take a look at the Tokyo aesthetics regarding the surroundings of onigiri outlet spaces. Notice the abundance of lights, colours and ads:
This is a downtown area street in Yokohama, Japan’s 2nd biggest city (but it could as well be Tokyo).
On such a street you can find konbinis looking like this below–a local Lawson featuring fellow UM writer Yoko:
In the back of such konbinis you find the refrigerated shelves with lots of onigiri. It’s one big shopping party.
Having a sudden Tokyo natsukashii (nostalgic) moment, I met up with a friend to check out a fairly new onigiri shop in Copenhagen.
Quite a contrast, right?
Onigiri: Japanese Food & Snack – Food to Go, is a new little chain of stores in Copenhagen (so far they only have two) selling onigiris togo. What a great idea–it’s a healthy and low fat lunch snack which the Danes could get addicted to.
Inside is quite calm as well.
The brass framed glass counter shows off the food elegantly.
The menu is neatly written on a large blackboard:
You can get five different onigiris, some salads, “oishii rolls-a-gogo” (should’ve tried that!), some hot soups and dish of the day.
The onigiri prices range from $5 -7 which is expensive considering I usually paid 105 yen in Tokyo (about $1 back then), so five times the Japanese price. But of course konbini onigiris are made daily in quite considerable amounts for a nation of 130 million rice lovers. Can’t really compare to making such few pieces for Denmark. I hope if an onigiri fad catches on and every store in every city wants them, the prices will lower, but I seriously doubt it.
Anyway, we picked three different onigiris and I also ordered a chicken soup. And a cold green tea which is not from Japan since the bottle’s label is written in Thai. Bah.
Tuna Mayo Wasabi / Ginger Salmon Edamamesalsa / Chicken Teriyaki:
The packaging is traditionally Japanese wrapping, with the nori and rice seperated. Colours are nice and easy to distinguish. In no way original but there’s no need for that anyway if you want to introduce an already well-established and well-designed product into a new market.
I really like that they have included the Japanese translations as well.
The chicken teriyaki is ok. Not super flavourful though, kinda bland and the meat is dry. I’ve had better. Also the rice seems to be a mixture of white and brown rice. I ought to be a big fan of brown rice, being a Dane and all, but I’m not.
My friend’s Ginger Salmon Edamame salsa was more in the right direction.
You can’t really see it yet, but the pink colours of the salmon, yellow ginger and green edamame looked good together.
All in all I would still say the onigiris I have in Japan are better. Yes, they might be prepared by robots and human droids, but I still like my Tokyo onigiris best.
Maneki neko aka cat of good fortune, on the glass counter! Very kawaii.
The cat waved goodbye from the counter and I think I want to come back again, at least to try out the other onigiris. But dammit–still missing my Tokyo onigiri. The only thing to do is to got to Japan and invade their konbinis.
I mean, mild radiation is almost better than heavy rain, right?
2200 Copenhagen, Denmark