Monday, April 13, 2009

Takeaway Dinners and the Low Crime Rate in Japan

Takeaway dinners. Busy work schedules demand them but my wallet and my palette usually aren’t that keen. I’m guilty of ordering a pizza once every couple of weeks when I get home late and I’m on my own. It comes from a nearby restaurant that is quite famous in the area. When the pizza comes fresh out of the clay oven that they have, the dough is crispy on the outside and soft in the middle and it tastes very nice indeed. By the time it gets to my door, it’s a different story. The juice from the tomatoes has completely permeated the centre of the pizza, making the pointed end of a slice pretty floppy. Still good but probably not worth the money.

In Japan, the takeaway selection isn’t the same as the Indian, Chinese and Fish-and-chippy deep-fry-fest that I get back home. Pizza is a common option but I think that’s where it ends. I had sushi once, but I’m never that keen on something cold for dinner. Last month I ordered Chinese noodles. When I opened the door, the delivery guy said a cheery greeting then plonked the bowl of noodles on the floor, got out his kettle and poured the soup in front of me. That way the noodles don't go squishy while he's making the delivery.

Last night, there was the rare occasion of both of us being too busy and deciding to get a takeaway together. This time, we went for something different. I had the menu shoved in front of me while I was on the phone and after a cursory glance, I jabbed my finger at the bowl of rice with teriyaki chicken in it. I didn’t realize that it also came with a soup that you can pour into the chicken rice if you wish. I open the door and the chap is carrying this:

A tray full of food and a kettle. He hands me the (rather heavy) tray and I stand there, wondering if he’s going to pour some of the soup like the Chinese noodle guy. He stands there holding the kettle and doesn't do anything so I ask him,

“What am I supposed to do with that?”

“You pour it in”, he tells me.


“Then what?”

“Then you eat it.”

OK. Poor communication skills from me here. It was a late night. I was perplexed by the fact that he appeared to be offering me a decent looking kettle. Not only that, the chicken rice was contained in some very nice wooden steam pots. Didn’t he know that pizza places get away with cardboard boxes? How much was he going to charge me? Did he want me to pour the soup and then give him back the kettle? If so, what about these pots? All of these questions were bouncing around my fuzzy brain and I was trying to work out which of them I should ask first.

Luckily, my better half appeared at this point. She began carrying all of it into the house, allowing me to pay the guy, and then said something to him that made the penny drop:

“When we’re finished with this, where should we leave it?”

“There’s a shelf next to the entrance to the car park. Please put it there.”

After you’ve finished eating your meal, you leave all of the pots and pans outside and they come and pick it up the next morning.

There is no doubt in my mind that had I left this stuff on the street in some of the neighbourhoods that I’ve previously lived in, it would have been gone in short order. Japan has such a low crime rate that businesses can operate this way.

If you’re wondering about the interior of those pots, take a look.

Chicken Teriyaki rice for me. Eel for her. Both on a bed of rice.

In addition to the chicken rice mixture, there are also three containers of nori, wasabi and spring onions. There are also pickles to give some flavour to the rice. You put some of the chicken rice in the bowl next to the kettle, add some nori or wasabi or whatever you like, then add some soup. Quite tasty. You can of course mix and match as you please.


  1. In the end,they came to pick the empty pots in the morning before I put them outside,so even came up to the door. I wish I could keep the wooden sets.

  2. That looks delicious. I browse the web torturing myself my looking at all this delicious Japanese food :D

    I think you can get takeaway ramen that works the same way.

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