Monday, October 5, 2009

Flavorful fall in Kanazawa

Soymilk has sort of been the unsung staple food in my diet. I use it in just about everything; on cereal, as a creamer in tea and coffee, in cookie and cake batter, and various other recipes... but apart from one very sugary brand from Singapore called Yeo's, I've never really been that keen on drinking the stuff by itself. It's not awful, but still not good enough to drink a glass of it unless you've had a mouthful of some rich chocolate dessert thing that you need to wash down.

I'd heard several times that the soymilk in Japan is not good. Coming here, I didn't know what to expect; on the first night we came here, we took a trip to the grocery store on the bottom floor of our building. One of the things we immediately latched on to was Cocoa Krispies (pretty the only U.S. cereal widely available here) and the only soymilk brand, which had a friendly (if all-Japanese) green and white container with the now-familiar characters that read tounyuu.

This stuff tastes pretty different from your standard U.S. brands (Silk, Vitasoy, etc.) but the effect is the same: not good enough to drink on its own, but fine as an ingredient or complement to other foods. It wasn't until we took a trip to the Hyakuban-Mart, a slightly upscale supermarket inside Kanazawa Station, that I saw how much wider the Japanese soymilk world is!

They all come in single-size cartons, and by my count there were at least a dozen flavors! Banana, strawberry, black sesame, jasmine tea, azuki bean (my favorite)... so many to choose from! I've tried almost all of them, and they're fantastic. One of the best yet is a seasonal flavor that they've just recently come out with for the fall:

That, my friends, is fried roasted sweet potato-flavored soymilk. The taste is great, but I think I love the idea of it more than anything.

The only bad part is that all of these flavored soymilks only come in these small sizes. I would probably buy a gallon of the azuki bean flavor if I could...

Speaking of sweet potato, Andrea and I had the interesting experience of being woken up at 8 AM Saturday morning by a fried sweet potato (yakiimo) vendor with one of those annoying loudspeaker vans that I thought had finally gone away. He had an oddly sad, minor key melody to promote his goods, along with lyrics very loudly proclaiming the deliciousness of his yakiimo.

So I guess this is how you tell it's fall in Japan: yakiimo everywhere. Forget leaves changing and any of that other crap.

And finally, this is how you can tell it's no longer summer in Ishikawa:

Hey, I'll take it over summer!


  1. Belh, I just wrote a comment but the internet ate it.
    Try looking for the soy milk they sell at the department store. Go down to the food floor and look for soy milk being sold in a pouch. It will look like the kind of pouch shampoo refills come in. It's super good.

    Yaki- 焼き doesn't mean fried, but grilled or, in the case of your potato soy milk there, roasted.

    Age- 揚げ is the prefix for fried things.

    Both of them come from their verb forms for grill and fry (焼く and 揚げる).

  2. I stand corrected! I think I was going under the assumption that since yakisoba is often fried, the prefix yaki meant fried. Thanks!