It's intern introduction time again here at CheapEats HQ. Please help us welcome Kaho Amano to the team.
Kaho has been with us for a little while already and will be staying until mid-January. Kaho comes to CheapEats with insider experience having worked in an Izakaya in Yokohama, which is great given the recent rush of Izakaya opening here in Toronto. We're looking forward to visiting a couple with her as part of our "work".
Who are you and where are you from?
My name is Kaho and I’m from Yamanashi, Japan.
I’m an university student in Japan. My major is sociology. Specifically, I’m studying media and culture.
What do you do (or are you going to be doing) at Plethora Press?
I’m an intern at Plethora Press. I work on CheapEats Toronto and CheapEats Ottawa, selecting photos for the Photo of the Week posts, publishing Vintages Value List posts, managing and tagging our Flickr photo and groups, publishing and sharing on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and making it easier to find information about CheapEats.
Where is your hometown and what is its signature dish?
My hometown is Katsunuma in Yamanashi prefecture which is next to Tokyo. It takes 30 to 40 minutes to drive from my hometown to Mt. Fuji.
Houtou is the signature dish of Yamanashi. It is noodles with vegetables and pork, cooked in miso and dashi soup. Whenever I cook it, I use pumpkins, potatoes, carrots, daikon (Japanese white radish), shimeji mushrooms and long green onion. Sometimes I use sweet potatoes.
The noodle is thick like Udon. But Houtou noodle is usually flatter and thicker than Udon. Mainly we eat it in winter because it is hot and in winter the daikon and pumpkins that you can get are more delicious.
Another signature dish of Yamanashi is Torimotsuni. It is giblets in soy sauce and sugar. I think it’s better to eat Torimotsuni with rice, but when you go to Izakaya (Japanese pubs) to drink, it is served without rice. I like it because it is easy to cook, the nutritional value is high and even though it’s made from giblets, the taste is great. A lot of people like it.
It was created for the revitalization of the prefecture in 1950 to bring tourists and visitors. So, of course it’s cheap and delicious! When you go to restaurants or Izakaya in my hometown, you can eat Torimotsuni. 2 years ago, Torimotsuni won the Grand Prize in The B-1 Grand Prix which is local gourmet food competition. Now a lot of people know about Torimotsuni.
My hometown is famous for grapes and wine. About 120 kinds of grapes are harvested in my hometown. For eating, I recommend Pione and Kyoho (name of kinds of grapes). Both grapes are dark purple, sweet and big. But they taste a little bit different, Kyoho is sourer than Pione.
For wine, I recommend Koshu (name of grapes). These grapes grow in Yamanashi. Most of Japanese white wine are made with Koshu grapes.
What is your favourite comfort food?
My favourite comfort food is Japanese curry and rice. It is very different from Indian and other kinds of curry. It is difficult to find a restaurant which has Japanese curry and rice in Toronto, so sometimes I cook it with my friends. I like curry and rice that is a little bit sweet. But my favourite is my mother’s, it always makes me happy.
What is your favourite food discovery?
Greek food, I really like Moussaka and Souvlaki. It is uncommon in Japan, so I’ve never eaten it before. When I went to eat Greek food, my friends took me to the Danforth. I was impressed that it is so delicious and surprised by the performance of our waiter setting fire to cheese. After that I often went to the Danforth. I enjoyed Taste of the Danforth too!! There were a lot of stalls on the street. It was very exciting.
What cuisine are you looking forward to trying next?
I want to try Brazilian food. My friends told me it is very good, but I have not tried it yet. I think it is also uncommon in Japan. So while I’m in Toronto, I’m looking forward to trying Brazilian cuisine next.
What food are you snobby about?
I’m snobby about chocolate with jelly inside. I really like chocolate. I always keep chocolate in my house. I eat chocolate every single day. But If chocolate has jelly inside, I will not eat it. The taste is weird and not tasty. It makes me grumpy. I can’t understand why they put jelly the inside of chocolate. Whenever I see it, I think they should separate the jelly from the chocolate.
What is one of your food quirks?
When I eat toast, I put sweet bean paste on it, it is normal in Japan. But I put processed cheese slices on top of sweet bean paste. It’s very delicious! When I was in Japan, I could get sweet bean paste, but it’s hard to find it in Toronto. I just have to have patience and wait until I go back to Japan to eat my favourite quirky toast!!
If I were looking for an "authentic" Japanese restaurant in Canada, what clues would I look for to identify it?
I think an authentic Japanese restaurant in Canada uses fresh ingredients. The restaurants use fresh fish in particular because they are serving raw fish. So the restaurants care about how fresh it. Because if we eat fish which is not fresh, it makes us sick. Other Japanese restaurant’s feature is that they pay attention a lot to keep the inside of restaurants clean.
If we compare Japanese food with Korean food because they are similar, Japanese food is not as salty, sour , spicy or sweet. It is more subtle.
What is your favourite CheapEat in your hometown and why? Can you recommend a CheapEat restaurant in Toronto?
My favourite CheapEats in my hometown is Katsunuma Hanten. This is a Chinese restaurant in my hometown where the dishes are suited to Japanese tastes. We can order Japanese food too. So you can chose your favourite Japanese or Chinese. They are not very oily and salty. If we order ramen and dumplings, we can eat them for less than 10 dollars.
The restaurant is family-run and everyone who works there is part of the family. They create a good atmosphere where I can enjoy dishes and feel comfortable.
Of course all of the dishes are very delicious. I recommend ramen!!
I want to recommend Tokyo Kitchen in Toronto. It is a Japanese restaurant. It is located 2 blocks away from Yonge and Bloor station. It is not only inexpensive but also authentic. Even though there are a lot of Japanese restaurant in Toronto, I think it is difficult to find perfect Japanese dishes. But Tokyo Kitchen is totally Japanese. I feel like eating home cooking. Tokyo Kitchen is cozy. It is very clean. When I go to Tokyo Kitchen, I feel like I’m in Japan.