Things I Ate in Japan – Part 3: Miscellaneous Deliciousness

Not everything fits neatly into a separate culinary pigeonhole, so this post is about all those delicious meals that defy categorisation.

20160401_130827

The above photo shows our lunch at a very stylish café in Omori, a little medieval village at the edge of the Iwami Ginzan silver mine. There were only two meal options and I chose this one: a hearty miso soup full of vegetable tempura and different kinds of beans; 3 different onigiri which had to be eaten with the little bit of salted fish you see on the left and crispy sheets of nori seaweed (which are hiding behind the soup); and a bowl of lightly pickled crispy vegetables. I loved the attention to detail and presentation at this restaurant: the little porcelain chopstick rest doubles up as a tiny flower vase!

20160401_130919

Pim chose the other option, which was Japanese curry (yes there is such a thing). The sauce was meaty and had just the right amount of spice.

20160323_182050

In Osaka (Japan’s food capital), we didn’t only eat takoyaki and melonpan, but also one of this city’s other famous specialities: okonomiyaki. Best described as a thick pancake filled with cabbage, these okonomiyaki are served at your own personal hotplate and slathered in Japanese barbecue sauce before being topped off with mayonnaise and heaps of dried bonito flakes. Mine had melted cheese inside (I know, weird, it didn’t really taste like anything but it had the consistency of cheese which is always nice), while Pim chose one with thin slices of pork.

20160326_132745

The sun-filled table above shows my lunch at the Arashiyama riverside close to Kyoto. I chose a set meal with lots of different dishes. In the top left-hand corner is a bowl of wild edible plants (the salty, crunchy ones I described in the previous post), next to it is a bowl with a piece of konjacu (a very gelatinous vegetable), deep fried soy-bean curd (very spongy tofu) and steamed fish-cake in a subtle sweet and salty sauce. In the middle is a piece of fried herring marinated in sweet soy sauce and topped with spring onions. There is miso soup, steamed rice and citrusy pickled vegetables and in the top right-hand corner some form of pickled bamboo. Hiding behind the miso soup was one piece of sakura mochi: a delicious desert of sticky rice flour filled with sweet red bean paste and wrapped in a salted cherry leaf. This sounds like an unusual combination, but it is probably one of the most delicate and interesting desserts I have ever eaten.

20160402_183011

In Nima, we stayed at a temple where the priest’s wife – locally known as the temple mamma – made us (and two other guests) this large bowl of sukiyaki: a kind of Japanese fondue. Vegetables, tofu and thin slices of beef are simmered in water which has been flavoured with sugar and soy sauce and when you take something out of the broth, you dip it in raw egg before putting it in your mouth. The slightly slimey consistency of the raw egg works surprisingly well in this dish.

20160409_191810

The photo is a bit blurry, but this was the best gyoza we had in Japan. We ate these in Tokyo in a special gyoza restaurant. We had three different kinds: traditional gyoza (which had to be dipped in miso sauce), Thai-style gyoza with fresh coriander (to be dipped in sea salt) and gyoza with shiso leaf (to be dipped in lemon juice). As a side we also had some cold silken tofu dressed with sesame-chilli sauce and spring onions. Yum!

20160410_140609

In Chinatown, Yokohama we ate these amazing soup dumplings. The bottom is crispy while the top is soft and each dumpling is filled with meat and soup! I don’t know how they do it, but magic has to be involved somewhere in the process. These puppies are quite hard to eat, because you risk squirting hot soup in your eye if you’re not careful. The trick is to make a tiny hole on top and drink all the soup out of it before eating the rest.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Things I Ate in Japan – Part 3: Miscellaneous Deliciousness

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s