In Tokyo, the triangle of Roppongi, Azabu, and Hiroo is home to the vast majority of the Western expat community. Many foreign companies have their offices have their offices in the area and most employees brought in from overseas prefer to live nearby. Most of them speak little to no Japanese at best, but are generally very well paid by their employers, so restaurants and stores are more than willing to accommodate them.
Yuki and I were having lunch in the area this past weekend (more on that in a later post), so we thought we'd walk around and check out the area a bit. There was a mom helping her daughter learn to ride a bike, a cafe with twice as many foreigners as Japanese, and a park full of American and British dads playing sports with their kids.
But the real gaijin jackpot is the National Azabu Supermarket, the single most American place I have ever been in Japan. Many Japanese stores will offer versions of foreign products produced domestically by Japanese brands, but not here. Everything was labeled in English and they had a number of brands you'd find in the US: Tide laundry detergent, SunChips, Tyson chicken. It was a bit nostalgic and I picked up a few things that you rarely see in Japan: hamburger buns (damn do I want a proper burger...), a pie crust (will definitely be making pumpkin pie this fall), and cherry coke (and will probably shell out the ridiculous prices they charge for a pizza around here so I can enjoy the ultimate junk food combination). Honestly, I find myself missing things from back home more and more often these days. It's nice to know that there is a way to get my hands on some of those things.
That night, I cooked up some freakin delicious chili and planned to tie it in with this story. But I got home late tonight after having picked up some beautiful ground Australian beef on the way back from work and I cooked myself a hamburger, using the buns I mentioned earlier.
I won't pretend it was perfect.
It was cooked in a frying pan, not on a grill.
It wasn't medium rare, bordering closer to well done.
It wasn't even that big.
But it tasted like beef should, it was juicy, and it was homemade. I ate it with just ketchup, the way I have for just about every burger I've eaten since I was little. It was magnificent and it made the world seem a little bit more right...