Cultural confusion is still cultural.

Having come off a grand success with his latest DIY drinking party for under 1,000 yen (US$9), known as a “senbero” in Japanese, our Senbero Meister Mr. Sato has once again evolved into a Senbero King.

In his relentless pursuit of Japan’s Best Home Senbero he had learned that the sheer quantity over quality of the cheapest retailers around may not be the best route after all. So this time, he wanted to try something radically different and construct a home senbero at the import store Kaldi.

Since a lot of their products are shipped in from abroad, their prices would be steeper than he was used to. He was up to the challenge though and had a big hankering for tacos, so he set forth to seek out a Kaldi senbero.

For his drink selection, Mr. Sato got a bottle of Sol de Verano Sangria, a very sweet dessert wine hailing from the Rioja region of Spain. At only 455 yen ($4.12) for a 720-milliliter (24-ounce) bottle, he got a pretty good deal, but it ate into nearly half his senbero budget already.

It was going to be a challenge to put together the rest of the taco ingredients. First, he got a can of diced tomatoes from La Preziosa in Italy for 91 yen ($0.82).

Next he grabbed a packet of salsa seasoning for 100 yen ($0.90). This was made by a Japanese company, but salsa itself is still a pretty exotic taste for Japan so it still worked.

Meat would have been out of the question this time because of the cost, but our Senbero King could still get a packet of ready-to-eat store-brand mixed beans for only 110 yen ($1).

To fill out the tacos more and give them a spicy kick, Mr. Sato opted for some Yum Yum instant noodles from Thailand. They were only 63 yen ($0.57) and came with basil leaves!

Finally, Mr. Sato needed the shells for his tacos, but he was already too deep into his budget to buy real ones. Searching for an alternative, he spotted some Vietnamese rice paper sheets for only 167 yen ($1.51). They had the added benefit of being gluten-free.

This senbero only consisted of six items and came in just under the wire at 976 yen ($8.95) before tax.

With all his items ready, Mr. Sato first got into preparing the salsa. He put the diced tomatoes into a bowl and then added all the seasoning with a confident plop.

Then he started to stir it in thoroughly.

However, realizing that stirring isn’t very interesting to watch, he decided to dramatize the process in the form of interpretive dance.

Mr. Sato: “Stirrrrr…”

Mr. Sato: “Ssssssssstir…”

Mr. Sato: “Stiiiiiiiiiiiiiiir…”

Mr. Sato: “St-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-tiiiir…”

And we’re done!

Next, it was time for the Yum Yum noodles.

Being the seasoned pro he is, Mr. Sato quickly tore open the package and… OH!!!

Oh dear, the seasoning packet tumbled into the water!

Luckily it was waterproof and no harm came to the flavoring powder inside the packet.

The crisis had been averted, and the Thai noodles were quickly completed, which meant the next step was to put the tacos together. Mr. Sato opened the package of rice paper and was surprised by how it looked.

It was mostly transparent and had a grid-like pattern across the surface.

Senbero King Sato joked that it looked like a mosaic you might see over someone’s face on the evening news.

Mr. Sato: “Look at me! I’m a murder witness!”

That was enough monkey business for one evening of drinking, however. Next, our reporter carefully moistened the rice paper.

Then he added the salsa…

After that, the Yum Yum…

And the beans.

The last step was to wrap it all up, though because of the nature of the paper it looked more like a burrito than a taco.

Huh… Mr. Sato’s creation was so international that it looked downright otherworldly.

In the end, he made four translucent taco pods and still had some beans and noodles left over on the side.

It was finally time to start this senbero!

Mr. Sato poured a glass of sangria and inspected its bouquet.

After taking a sip, he quite liked the extreme sweetness of it, and admitted he would sweeten it even more with some orange if he had some.

But the question remained: Would it pair with his gelatinous alien tacos?

It had a strange chewy consistency, but the salsa flavor was quite nice.

Ah yes, Mr. Sato found that indeed the sangria enhanced certain notes of the salsa in his taste buds that hadn’t already been destroyed by the extremely spicy Thai noodles.

Actually, in the spirit of pairing, Mr. Sato wondered if the leftover noodles wouldn’t benefit from a coating of salsa.

It worked! The noodles had another layer of flavor that mingled with the fruity spiciness well.

Senbero King Sato hereby declared this senbero… A SUCCESS!

And there was still plenty of rice paper left.

It was a bit of a pain to prepare though, so he tried eating a sheet straight out the pack.

It actually tasted pretty good, and had the sweetness of rice in it. So he thought that if he grilled it a bit, it might turn out like a tasty cracker.

Mr. Sato: “Ooh! It smells nice. That’s a good sign.”

Mr. Sato: “Wow! It totally does taste like a fresh cracker!”

As he munched on his toasted Vietnamese rice paper cracker, Mr. Sato thought about his past drinking sessions and those he had wronged in the process of finding Japan’s Best Home Senbero. Maybe this tasty treat was the bridge over troubled waters he had sorely needed.

Mr. Sato: “Hey Masanuki? You know what this is? It’s rice paper. You fry it and it gets super delish. Did you know that?”

Masanuki: “…”

Masanuki: “…?!”

Mr. Sato: “Yeah, check it out. Just fry it in the pan like so. Smells good, right?”

Mr. Sato: “Tadaaaaa! It’s nicely browned and crispy.”

Mr. Sato: “Try some! But be careful. It’s a little hot.”

Masanuki: “Chomp!”

Masanuki: “Nom…”

Masanuki: [Crunching noises]

Suddenly, Masanuki’s face lit up with joy, or at least as much as it was capable of lighting up. Masanuki hadn’t felt joy since Mr. Sato’s quest for Japan’s Best Home Senbero began. It was a strange sensation, and he couldn’t quite remember how to express it properly.

Mr. Sato: “Yes, yes. Here, have some sangria to wash it down with. Sorry I don’t have any oranges to make it sweeter for you.”

Mr. Sato: “Good! Use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the sangria flow through you.”

Mr. Sato: “I’m glad you can see things my way now.”

With Masanuki having turned to the drunk side, an uneasy alliance was formed between the two writers – but would it last? Find out next time on Japan’s Best Home Senbero.

Photos: ©SoraNews24
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