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Rie’s Diary from Japan 4

My train was supposed to leave Odate (Please follow this map) at 7 PM but the heavy snow fall changed my mind and I decided to take an earlier train. I was going to meet someone in Sendai early next morning and I could not be stranded here. The decision seemed to be a wise one, but when I came to Hirosaki there was a problem and my train was delayed and I had to join a bunch of young high school girls at a Mister Donut shop to wait for our transportation. It was interesting to watch these people, it is said young people in Japan do not speak their dialect anymore but I could hear their local accent. It was very cute. In a moment I did not know where I was, really I was far far away from home.

The train left Hirosaki 65 minutes later than its scheduled time but I could catch a super fast Shinkansen at Shin Aomori. We had only 2 minutes to change and everyone had to run!! I was afraid to stumble and fall and break my wappa bento box. “Wappa won’t break so easily” Mr. Sasaki said, and that became a good assurance and I just had to run.

The distance between Shin Aomori and Sendai is 361.9 km and this super fast Shinkansen Hayabusa No.18 took only 90 minutes. It was very very fast. I originally planned to have a dinner in Odate but now I was suddenly in Sendai at the dinner time. What shall I eat? I was a total stranger here… and suddenly I was very hungry.

I walked around and found a little Japanese restaurant near Sendai station. It looked dark inside but I could see many people were having a good time there and the most important condition was… it smelled so good !! As I was standing outside the restaurant I could smell they were charcoal grilling. I LOVE CHARCOAL GRILL  “Hello,” I said, and a young girl greeted me with a smile. A smile! You don't get that in restaurants in Tokyo! I sat at the counter and started to look at their menu. Wow! So many good dishes! and I was so happy I chose this place.

I ordered some Yakitori and a salad to start with.

Hmmm…. Both are very good. Then I saw they have “Zunda”. Do you know what “Zunda” is? It is Edamame, people in Sendai call it Zunda, and they pickle them!

I ate pickled Edamame (Zunda) for the first time and it was DELICIOUS!!! (You only eat the beans inside)

The smell from the charcoal grill was just too good to resist and I decided to order more… Sendai is famous for GYUTAN (beef tongue) and I knew it from before. Usually they serve a big piece of Gyutan as a steak and I did not want so much of it, but on the menu here it says I could order a single skewer of charcoal grilled Gyutan. Umm…. Why not?

The charcoal grilled Gyutan was tender and delicious. In between the meat pieces I tasted sweet Negi and it was a very good combination. I ordered one more skewer. Why not? I am in Sendai after all.

I was alone but totally enjoyed this dinner in Sendai. My hotel near Sendai station was nice and clean and I had a nice breakfast and chat with my friend next morning. She is a native of Sendai and a survivor of the Earthquake 2 years ago. You maybe sometimes see my bento in this bento box?

After the Earthquake I sent a box of cakes to comfort her and her family and she sent me this set of a beautiful bento box and a matching chopstick case in return. Their sufferings are not describable, the damage seen and unseen are still there, but people’s life must go on.

It was such a short stop in Sendai but I hope I will have a chance to come back. People here are smiling. Where does it come from? As I was leaving Sendai station next morning, I was thinking about that. The next destination is Kyoto. Will I be able to find the answer before I get there?


Rie - Bento specialist, Oslo, Norway

Hello, I love to cook and bake and I enjoy making bento everyday. I was one of the finalists at Bento&co’s contest in 2011 and later I joined Bento&co as Bento Specialist. I am living in Norway now but I am originally from Ishikawa in Japan where many of Bento&co’s bento boxes are made. I try to make bentos that are as beautiful as they are delicious, and I like to show you how to add more sparkles in your bento life! - Rie

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