If you're a fanatic for freeze-dried miso soup - as so many trendy Tokyoites are these days - the selection here at Amano is unbeatable. But there's more than just soup - choose from an eye-opening selection of pastas, risotti and mini-portions of main dishes like curry and beef stew - more than 100 different freeze-dried items in all. Load up a basketful for quick snacks at home or in the office, or try some out right here - there's a hot-water spigot and a nearby dining area where you can hold your own freeze-dried indoor picnic.
If you want to eat here, let the cashier know when you pay for your packets, and you will be supplied with appropriate cups, lids and plastic utensils, then directed to their hot water spigot. Use the measuring cup to add the designated amount of water, then stir gently and watch the magical transformation happen.
After you've firmly attached the lids you can carry your freeze-dried meal to the dining-table area at the opposite end of the basement, although you may need to ask directions. (Amano and most of the other shops in Kitte tend to have English-speaking staff.) Just grab any of the empty tables. You can also browse the several take-out booths lined up next to the dining area to supplement your freeze-dried dishes.
For our own culinary research venture we tried miso soup with eggplant, three-cheese risotto and borscht. Everything was quite tasty, and quite a bit better than expected. The eggplant sprang nicely back to life and was surprisingly fresh-tasting, while the risotto and borscht each had their own distinct charms. While a full meal of freeze-dried dishes might be a bit intense, it made a fun starter course for a lunch of deep-fried pork delicacies from the nearby Yabaton take-out booth.
If you're bewildered by Amano's plethora of choices, the top-three best-selling items in each category are specifically labeled in the shop. There are also seasonal specials (e.g. soups with summer or winter vegetables), limited-edition items exclusive to this shop, and gift-pack assortments suitable for souvenirs. Most are priced in the Y100-250 range, although some of the more deluxe items run a bit higher.
This book will introduce you to more than twenty of Japan's favorite specialty foods that are less well known abroad, along with a guide to the best places in Tokyo to try them and expert tips on what to order. From Bento.com.