22 April 2012

Japanese Food

Food, oh glorious food!

I think i spent a large portion of my trip eating, not that I'm complaining! Japanese food is divine! Its simple yet full of flavour; the texture, the different bowls, the presentation the deliciousness of it all. I did not have a single bad meal the whole time i was there. Not one. And i ate at several different places, and i always tried to order something different. And the food was 'light' so you didn't get that heavy, sleepy feeling you normally get after having a meal.

Udon with wild mountain veggies
I took photos whenever i could but its still a small showing of the delectable dishes i had while i was in Japan. I must say that the restaurants i went to were often just as interesting as the meals themselves but for some silly reason i didn't actually take photos of them.
Miso soup with crab and scallop rice
Beef soba
There was one place A and i stopped in, in Ueno, Tokyo...and unfortunately he is the one with the video from that one...it was as typical a Japanese place as you can find. We were shown to the back and it was obviously a popular place as it was filled with "salary-men" socialising (read, drinking) and having a marvellous time. It was a tatami floor with sunken seating around a low table. The food was great and the atmosphere even better. We spent our meal watching the salary-men, drinking, passing out, shouting, ordering drinks, arguing over who was paying and just generally having a good time.

In Kyoto - A, very happy with his order
In Kyoto - Prawn Tempura with rice and soup
In Kyoto, A and i were wandering around Gion and somewhere near Kennin-ji Temple found a very authentic little soba place - they actually made the soba noodles themselves on site. My tempura soba order came with a kind of leaf (shiso/perilla) - odd but very delicious and cooked to perfection...A was so jealous that he ordered a separate serving of them, but he was nice enough to share a couple with me :)

Ok so not everything we had was authentic Japanese. One day we were so hungry that we just stopped at a random place near the Ryokan we were staying at in Kyoto. It was more Bavarian style and you can see their version on a "hamburger" with mushroom sauce...oh and there was pasta underneath the burger pattie. I must say though that despite it not looking so great, it tasted great.

The quest for Ocha-zuki...A was obsessed with finding this dish. Every place we went to he asked if they had it. Luckily in a diner near Kyoto station we finally found it. There are some variations but this one was a rice dish with salmon and seaweed over which you pour green tea before you begin eating.

And lucky for me, while A was enjoying his Ocha-zuki, i had a twist on the usual miso soup...

Clam miso soup, rice, pickles, and yakitori (grilled chicken skewers)

One night while walking along the streets of Kyoto, A and I came to a standstill. A window display of an absolutely fantastic dream-like place had caught our attention. Oh. My. God. Ice cream parlour! Like kids our faces lit up and we went inside to treat ourselves..what can i say, its hard work being on holidays! I went back a few days later for Sakura (Cherry Blossom) pancakes...You should have seen the menu for this place, pages of different desserts all looking sumptuous and drool-worthy.

A's choice
My choice
The birthday pack
Teddy bear sundae
The rows of sundaes are just too tempting for A
A sundae for one...or four people
Now thats what i call a pancake stack!
Kids cone sundaes
How is this not tempting?
My "Sakura" pancakes and cream (with real cream) tea
Ok moving on...I cant remember what this dish is called. I had it in Kyoto and we were told that it was another speciality of the district. It was a hot-pot of chicken, vegetables and some noodles - very delish i can can assure you. The restaurant had a very nice atmosphere, intimate, friendly and simple. They had coat hangers on the wall for your coats, baskets under your seat to put your bags and blankets hung on the armrest in case you got a little cold. We were lucky enough to be seated next to the window outside of which we could see the tiny stream running by.
Chicken hot pot

Issen-Yoshoku - A Kyoto style Okonomiyaki. Ingredients are: Spring Onion, Egg, Dried Shrimp, Grilled fish paste, Dried bonito, Beef, Ginger, Tempura batter, Knjak Jelly, flour.

Issen Yoshoku
Wild mushroom and vegetable Udon

Okonomiyaki - i had this in a place somewhere along the Philosophers Path just before reaching Nanzenji Temple in Kyoto. The host of the establishment cooked it for me herself which i found very sweet.

The story with this dish is that i was somewhere in Iidibashi in Tokyo and i wanted to see how Japanese do "western" dishes so i walked into a pasta place and on their menu - among other more typical pasta dishes - was this one, prawn with whitebait and fish roe. Believe it or not, it did taste good.

My last 2 stories for you in this foodie first edition of my Japan posts involves McDonalds and coffee.

Im a great lover of coffee, one of the greatest disappointments about living in London is their terrible coffee so the fact that the coffee in Japan was better that i expected, was a treat. Like everything else, it had been perfected down to an art form, the turn of the cup, the presentation, the offer or sugar and milk...

Now before you all yell at me for going to McDonalds in Japan and the insanity of that idea hear me out...I do this occasionally when i travel to see what a global company is like, how it varies it menu to cater to the locals. Well, there was no miso soup on the menu and the fish burgers did not come with roe, a cheeseburger was a cheese burger and that was it. BUT. I was handed a perfectly folded take-away bag with two hands, and i was given a proper bow. Where in else in the world will you get that from a McDonalds employee?

Well, i hope you enjoyed the post and photos. More posts are coming soon!


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