Japan, Pt. II - Food?


 I went to Japan a month ago.  I still don't know what to think about it.  For the past few days I have been wanting to go back.

Lunch at a restaurant in Kyoto run by Chinese people.  They told us that it was the tourist season but no westerners came there, that it was because of the nuclear disaster.  I ordered ramen with pork.  Nami ordered ma po tofu which is in the bowl on the far left.  We got some fried gyoza dumplings.  It came with pickled burdock root which is in the little bowl next to the big ramen bowl.  There was hot sauce too.  This meal was very good and it was regarded by all involved as simple convenience fare.  Cheap pork in Japan is vastly superior to cheap pork in America.

A cafe in a train station.  A chain called "Cafe Mozart," where they play the music of Mozart over the sound system. 

Okonomiyaki, Hiroshima style.  Hiroshima style means that is has cabbage.  They are pancake-ish things that are cooked with a hot plate on the tabletop.  It is the kind of thing where you can drink a lot of beer and order a lot of them.  This tasted so awesome, it is hard to look at this photograph and know that the place is so far away.  I want to eat more.

Around the corner from the okonomiyaki spot was this place, called Mother's Ruin.  It was down an alley and in the basement and the guy in the white short sleeved shirt was the only customer, but he took off when we showed up.  The photos came out pretty weird because it was very dark in there.  Check out the giant dragon lizard on the ceiling.  I'm not sure what to say about it.  It was intense.

There were glass things in the tables that lit up  It was really a trip.  If you ever get to Shimokitazawa check it out just ask someone.  Mother's Ruin.  What a name for a bar.


Tuna at the Tokyo fish market.

Different cuts of tuna: the loin, the belly, the head.

The guy took us out to the truck lot to look at a tuna that had been purchased that morning for a million yen, $122,500 at the time.  The guy was excited that we were from New York.  He knew the Yankees.  "Thank you for Operation Tomodachi," he said.  Operation Tomodachi, which means "Operation Friend," is the codename for the US Army relief effort in response to this year's earthquake and tsunami.

If you look closely you can see that the very tip of the Tokyo Tower is bent.  The tower was built in 1958.  The tip bent in the earthquake.  In the foreground is the Zojoji temple.

Not far from the temple was a shrine on top of a hill with a very steep staircase.  There was a koi pond.  The koi were used to being fed so anytime you approached the water's edge they would gather and make the sucking O-face furiously like this, flapping on top of each other.

It is pretty crowded on the Tokyo rush hour train but people manage to fall asleep anyway.

These mochis tasted like sweet gingery green tea beans.  They were soft and delicious.  Mochis are a soft and spongey rice flour sheet folded over some bean paste.

We went to have yakitori in a tunnel underneath the train tracks.  Yakitori is barbecued chicken on skewers, and beer.  You sit on beer crates and the tables are just a couple of crates with a tabletop laid down.

The menu reads: Chicken pieces, hearts, livers, skin, intestines.  And so on.  All on skewers.  There was raw jellyfish with fresh wasabi shoots for an amuse-bouche.  It was crunchy.  This was an unforgettable eating experience in addition to the food being pretty good.

At yakitori you drink beer and have fun.  Yakata-san and Takagi-san.  You remember Yakata who we gave a Brooklyn Dodgers hat to in the last post.  We gave the Yankees hat to Takagi and he is wearing it here.  Flowers.

Next time, the tea ceremony.


2 comments


  • Bucky

    Lerannig a ton from these neat articles.


  • Jerome

    Thanks for these great little food stories! Mother’s Ruin looks mighty strange. Even the simple fare that you show looks good and well presented.


Leave a comment