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Nara Street Food Guide
ONLY in JAPAN
So here we are in Nara
to eat some street food
and joining me in this report is Kevin Riley
Yeah! Back again for some more food!
Why are we here? What makes Nara so special?
Most people com to see the deer.
Right! The deer.
They're everywhere.
People come here to see Todaiji.
Right.
And the goat Buddha inside there.
and also this used to be the old capitol.
Right this used to be the old capitol
now it's Tokyo but
centuries and centuries ago it used to be Nara.
Yup! There's a lot of history here.
and I go hiking around here
and you go up to the hill and there are Buddha carvings
that are like 1200 years old
paintings in the caves
it's just a really cool old place.
It hasn't really changed.
One of the things I love about Nara is that
it's a very natural place
with lots of hiking trails
lots of trees, lots of nature around
and lots of street food! Street Food!
That's what we're here for.
Now you're talking! Let's go!
Nara is located in Japan's Kansai region sort of between Kyoto and Osaka.
The old capitol area sit at the fringe of forested hills
loaded with temples and shrines.
The other side is urban and well settled.
Todaiji with the great buddha is hard to miss.
The path leading to it and Nara Station is where you'll find some unique street food.
Kevin and I start with this,
a yakiimo or grilled sweet potato cart smoking like mad.
The inside barrel is hot,
loaded with sweet potatoes.
This is one of Japan's most traditional street foods.
The price here lists 200 yen per 100 gram
but the final price depends on the total weight served.
Half a yakiimo was 250 grams or 500 yen.
A little pricy but on a cool morning like today,
it's worth it.
Look at that thing steaming, waiting for someone to take a bite.
As we took our first bites, we were joined by one of Nara's residents,
the deer
This is when things got out of control.
It's very hot
This lady makes it using an old grill which is ...
I didn't even have a proper bite and the deer
is already claiming ownership!
Deer 1, Humans 0
You have to eat it fast and not because it may get cold.
The deer!
They can sense food from far away distances
and they'd do anything to eat something better than tourist trampled grass.
Tactics range from flirting and nudging to all out grabbing and biting!
Did you give it to the deer? No!!
He just took it!
The taste: sweeter than the normal potato which makes eating it grilled perfect!
The skin is tough but tasty,
a little bitter from the charring
and an awesome contrast to the soft sweet potato inside.
By the station is Nakatanidou a shop that specializes in the ancient art of mochi making.
Really, this place needs no introduction.
Hai!
Mochi must be pounded when hot and speed is critical.
Any cooling changes the taste and texture.
The art has been passed down from ancient times
and Nakatani-san learned this speedy method from
his village Kamikitayama in the Nara countryside.
The pounders continually dip the mallets in water
to keep the mochi moist and to keep it from sticking.
The team moves quickly to the next step where it will be turned fast by hand
to maintain good consistency throughout.
You can see how stretchy it is, the mark of excellent quality mochi.
Speedy slapping and pounding with fast turns is the last part.
One last collission for good measure
and it's throw into the machine where azuki red bean paste from Hokkaido
is put in the middle of that mochi rice from Saga prefecture.
There you are. Thank you very much!
All ingredients are from very natural in Japan
Order for 3! Got it!
You can buy packs anytime, 3 for 390 yen
or one for 130 yen
always made fresh although after the show, the mochi is coated in kinako and handed directly to customers.
It doesn't get any fresher than this!
Thank you very much.
Wow! What an experience that was!
Wasn't that something?
Yeah! It;s still warm.
It is! I guess that's from the pounding.
and the hot water they use
Now it's time to take a bite.
You can see that azuki red bean starting to break through ther soft warm mochi.
It's green not from green tea
this is from yomogi
Yomogi which is MUGWART
It's a type of grass.
Let's give it a taste
Let's try it. Bottoms up!
Ahhh!
Mmm. It's got a good sweetness to it.
I like the kink powder around it
Yeah! You got the bean paste inside
Ooooh yeah! It's very nice.
Bean paste baby!
The green yomogi adds the perfect bitterness to the sweet azuki bean and mochi texture.
Can you imagine living somewhere you didn't get this stuff?
No way.
This is a MUST TRY on any visit to Nara, but Nara's got more than mochi!
Let's go this way!
Kevin recommended a famous Nara food just a couple hundred meters away.
It's sushi, but it's different.
This is KAKI NO HA SUSHI
and it's wrapped in a permission leaf.
There are several shops around the stations selling it.
There are several different kinds of mixed sets.
The mackerel is the most famous
but Kevin settles on this. Ebi or shrimp with Saba, Sake, and Anago.
We unboxed it to see what it came with.
Since you can't eat it in,
this qualifies as a sort of street food,
something people picnic with around Nara Park.
wrapped like birthday presents for the stomach!
The 8 sushi are packed in tight.
Kevin takes it to the street for tasting.
All right! Kaki no ha sushi!
Looking good! Now, it doesn't look like sushi, does it?
But, if you pull these little packages out of here.
You unwrap the leaf and …
Oh!
Each one's a little surprise!
This one's got EBI
SHRIMP!
That's sushi
but a little taste of the leaf
just a little bit
a little lemony taste
very good
Let's see what else Kevin finds
So now — um —
Sticky little thing — oh!
This is anago
Conger eel in English
Easy, cheap, filling and delicious!
Kaki no ha sushi
Back to the deer
Here's a massive dorayaki dedicated to the deer for 600 yen.
You'll need both hands for the monster!
Deer will eat just about anything but one street food in particular
was made just for them.
Kevin bought a pack for 150 yen.
See, Nara's deer are quite important to the city.
There are over 1200 deer roaming freely around Nara Park,
one of Japan's oldest.
Deer were sacred. Killing one was punishable by death until 1637
But they lost their sacred status after world war 2
and are now designated as national treasures, protected by law.
most importantly, they're super cute but still wild animals.
You can buy special shika senbei or deer rice crackers
nearly everywhere on the street.
They drive the deer wild so hide them or prepare to be swarmed!
Kevin and I took the stash to the center of the park to see
ust how popular we could be with deer society.
Was this a passport to popularity with bambi's Japanese cousins?
Sure seemed like that.
These guys love it obviously
They do love it.
He's like “oooh, gimme some!
We only had a few deer in our area so we decided to take our shika sembei to the center
where there were dozens of deer just hanging out.
Certainly our new friends here would follow us, right?
We have shika senbei!
And then again — maybe not.
They weren't impressed.
We weren't instant celebrities, but with a little time …
and high profiling those deer rice crackers …
anyone can eventually be a star in the deer world.
We had high society talking about us in no time!
But popularity lasts only as long as those senbei.
When you're out, you're out.
Kevin retired first and I wasn't ready to take on a solo act.
Ah, get away from me. This one is violent!
This one is violent!
One deer turned into a stalker.
If I give it to this one, this one gets angry.
It's going to him me. Look! It almost hit me again.
Look, he's getting angry!
This one is really — not — nice.
He wants to … AH!
Then the party was over.
With high society days over, we turned to a lower class of food.
This is shika no fun or --- yeah, you know. Deer poop.
It's not real deer poop
Nara is still Kansai after all
and Kansai is famous for having an amazing sense of humor
It depends which one you're eating!
I feel like a deer just pooped in my hand.
The taste? Chocolate peanuts.
Not bad. Not bad at all.
Do you want to compare this to the real thing?
Can you tell the difference?
Come on, remember your sense of humor!
The deer … well, that's a different story.
He found our samples very easily without touching any of the real poop
Most impressive.
Deer 3, Humans 0
Oh bot, we ate a lot, isn't we?
Oh yeah! All kinds of different stuff.
Absolutely!
I think what makes this place very different is that
these street food stands
are located in different parts around the city
not located in one place
there's one by Todaiji, there's one by the station
there's another one on the other side of the park
That makes this place …
you get your exercise
You're definitely going to be working off that food
you eat. Yeah!
And actually there are a lot of nice stuff to see in Nara
You know — there's the deer of course
The deer. The sights. The nature around us.[
You get to walk around and eat food!
Eat food! But you know what? We're not done!
There's one more I want to show you.
I think I know which one you're talking about.
Let's go.
No street food epsiode is complete without a trip to the ice cream stand.
They had all sorts of flavors. Green Tea, Sakura, chesnut, and a bunch of other mixes.
So there you have it.
Street food in Nara.
Come hungry and be prepared to share with new four legged friends.
You're gonna love it.
Next time, I'll be on the road for a month traveling from Kyushu to Hokkaido
following those cherry blossoms,
a route I did back in 2003.
I'm going to share the adventure so subscribe,
ake sure you click the notification button for updates
and look for live streams and loads of new episodes
as I make my way north on an adventure of a lifetime.
Thank you for the support everyone! See you on the road!
Photos available on Instagram: onlyinjapantv
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Nara Street Food Guide w/ Extra Mochi

28 Folder Collection
Erina Hagi published on November 19, 2019
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