Everyday Life and Eats in Japan, Plus July 4th

I am really not sure if I posted this picture before, but in case I didn't, I thought I would share.  When I was traveling in Europe I had limited space to bring things home, so when I found a small bottle of Palinka in Budapest, I made sure to buy it.  Palinka is a Hungarian fruit brandy.  There are special rules for how it has to be made to be called Palinka and it comes with an official seal on the cap, or at least my bottle did.  All I can say is, BOY this  is some strong stuff!
This post is really just a catch up post of pictures I have piling up from the past few weeks since returning home and settling back in to regular, everyday life in Japan.

One place we tried for lunch one weekend was this place called Burg Burg.  We pass by it all the time as we leave the base, so we decided we probably should check it out.
To start we were brought these soups, but it turned out to be made with chicken stock, so I passed my bowl over to Ryan.
I ordered an omelet over fried rice, which was more like tomato rice.  It was really good, and if I come back to this place again, this is probably what I will order.  I think it is probably a better choice than the fried shrimp, which was one of the only other things on the menu that wasn't beef, pork or chicken.
Ryan ordered this burg steak (or called something similar), basically a big hamburger served like a steak.  He said it was really good.  I have a feeling if we go back that he will order this again.
On a weekday afternoon I was invited to a birthday lunch for a coworker of mine at WIC.  We ate at Cake House, which is where we also went for my going away party before I left for Europe.  It was such a hit with the group that we decided it would be good for future meals out.  When you order the set meal for lunch you get a salad, your entree (selection of 3 different pastas or a sandwich), a beverage and the dessert of the day.  Pictured here is one of those desserts, so you can see that it is a pretty nice dessert option.  I don't mind the surprise.  Everything they make here is good. 
Next up...don't freak out...McDonald's!  No joke, we went to McDonald's.  We actually went on a weekend morning for breakfast to get an egg and cheese on an English muffin breakfast sandwich, but when we got there it was too late for breakfast, so we ordered lunch.  I ordered this called an Ebi Filet-O.  Any guesses?  
If you know some basic Japanese from a sushi restaurant, you may know that ebi is the Japanese word for shrimp.  So this is basically a shrimp "burger".  Like a fillet-o fish sandwich, but with shrimp.  Japanese McDonald's is a bit different from the US version. 
After the birthday lunch I had with my coworkers, we had another birthday come up the next week, so during lunch we all headed to the Indian restaurant right outside the base.  They offer a fantastic lunch special for about $10, so this place is a great spot for a good lunch at a good price.  It comes with salad, rice, 2 entrees (small portions), naan bread and a drink.  I got the veggie curry and the seafood curry.  Both were really good.  
Now I am catching up to more recent times.  For July 4th the base had a fair on base with vendors both from the military and from the local community.  Ryan and I stopped by for a little bit to see what was going on and to see if there was anything we wanted for lunch.  One of the coolest things they had was a display of birds.  These weren't just any birds.  They were some serious birds.  Owls, Falcons and similar birds.

Check out this owl that was out and about.  They even allowed petting.  This is one beautiful owl.
This little owl was adorable and looked right at me so I could take a picture.
Here are a few more pictures of the birds on display.

They had many food vendors at the fair too.  Some were military related groups that were fundraising and others were local Japanese business selling their foods.  I was curious about these Japanese sweets so I bought one.  Very interesting indeed.  Not to sweet, as I anticipated, but it was very starchy, almost like potato flour.  I'm guessing it was probably rice.
Then we spotted the Phada's booth and we both new we needed so delicious Thai for lunch.  Phada's is an awesome Thai restaurant not too far away from the base.

Ryan ordered the Thai basil beef.
I had the shrimp pad Thai.  Wonderful, as always.
Next up are the pictures of our meal at a great Mexican restaurant near the base.  Yep, you heard me right.  There is some fantastic Mexican food in Japan.  I had the shrimp and avocado quesadilla.
Ryan had a combo with huevos rancheros and I think it's an enchilada.
Next up are some pictures I took at the mall.  First is my favorite ice cream place.  They take plain ice cream and blend it with fresh fruit.  I picked papaya which was definitely a different choice for me because I normally get a berry flavor.  It was good, but I think next time I will go with mixed berry.
After ice cream we went into the International food store.  They have lots of good foods from all over the world, mostly European, but also some American foods too.  In the cheese section I found this olive flavored spreadable cheese.  It is really good.  I have been eating it on wasa crackers.
After walking around the mall we also went to the regular grocery store.  It is not uncommon in Japan for the mall or department stores to have a full grocery store.  I was on the hunt for vanilla ice cream kit kats.  They were sold out!  Darn!  Better luck next time, right?  Instead we picked up some bottle beverages.  I tried this one.  The greens pictured on the label definitely got me interested, so I gave it a try.  It was a little bitter, but had a good flavor, although I could only drink so much.  I am not a huge tea fan in the first place.
Ryan tried the extra strong ginger ale.  Oh boy, this was definitely extra strong.  It burned our throats.
Last up is our dinner out last Friday night.  I had a craving for Italian so we went to a good Italian place not too far from the base.  We like it there because the food is good and they offer a set course menu.  The pasta set menu costs around ~$12.  It includes a drink (including a beer or glass of wine), appetizer, bread, pasta entree and dessert.  Not a bad deal!

For drinks Ryan ordered the blood orange Italian soda and I had red wine.  Ryan was the driver, can't you tell?
Ryan had the tomatoes on bread (aka bruschetta).
I had the salmon salad.  I love this salad.  It's made with raw salmon, although it seems more like smoked salmon.
For our entrees, Ryan had tomato and basil, and then I had shrimp pasta.  Mine actually had a small extra charge because I picked a more expensive pasta, but the shrimp just sounded so good, so I wanted to order it.

We each were given a piece of garlic bread like this.
Dessert?  Of course!  Ryan had tiramisu and I had the chocolate mousse.
Wow, that was a lot of random meals and food pictures, but I definitely had to get caught up because Ryan and I are heading to Tokyo soon for a little vacation and I know I will have tons of pictures to share from that trip.

QUESTIONS:  Ever heard of Palinka?  Do you have restaurants near you that serve set menus or course menu options?  Have you ever tried a McDonald's outside of the US?

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