Did you know Japan has excellent French food? Rumor has it, Tokyo serves up the best French food outside of France. Bada and I discussed it one evening as we split a cheese plate and a carafe of delightfully dry Cabernet Franc. Totally not what I thought I’d be eating my first “real” day in Japan (the night I arrived in Fussa, my “Welcome to Japan” dinner was at the local Thai restaurant – why? Because we are ironic like that…)
After the wine and cheese, we explored the the Shibuya/Harajuku neighborhood until we stumbled into a yakatori place with a bright, colorful menu. We ordered a small feast by pointing at the pictures. Like this:
Our technique seemed flawless. With one exception: the chicken platter.
Now, I’m brave when it comes to trying new foods – even when they are staring me down as dine on them:
However, a “chicken platter” (apparently) contains all pieces of the chicken – including internal organs and skin. I tried everything diligently and without question, but quickly learned that there are some textures that I just can’t abide: chewy, fatty, bumpy, heart-y. So the organs and skin got pushed aside for a second round of bacon-wrapped okra bits!
Bacon-wrapped okra aside, the best part of the night was the Wine Tea!!!! I have no idea what it is exactly, other than purple and delicious. After watching a lady at the table across from us drink three glasses, I called the waiter over and asked for two glasses of “what the lady in the striped shirt over there is drinking.” We were not disappointed and ordered several rounds.
The next day, Bada ensured I had the Udon Experience at a local soba house. After so many wine teas the night before, this feast of hot noodles and stuff was welcome and comforting.
Later, we dined on curry. While I had no idea Japan had curry, the brown curry at CoCo Curry has quickly become one of my favorite dishes. We ordered take-out and I enjoyed curry with eggplant, garlic bits and hard boiled egg as we watched 50/50 – a comedy about a 27 year old guy with cancer. I cried. A lot. It was not a comedy.
I’ve discovered quite a few other tasty gems here in Japan, including:
Hot coffee – in a can- FROM A VENDING MACHINE!!! Maybe my favorite thing ever.
Green tea liquor!!!!
And, the standby Oolong-Hai! (Iced Oolong tea with a shot of soju).
There are also green tea Kit-Kats, but I ate all of those before I took a picture of them….whoopsie.
But, by far, my favorite dining experience was at the Korean BBQ restaurant – it was so good, we went there twice in the same week!!!
The table is set with multiple pairs of wooden chopsticks and a small grill. You have to take your shoes off and sit on a cushion. Food is brought out raw – you cook it yourself at the table. Bada and ordered short ribs, chicken, squid, onions and kimchee. I’m not sure how she ordered everything, since the menu looked like this:
Still, Bada was brilliant! Everything was fabulous – especially the short ribs!!!
I felt like it took forever to cook the food, but I was just really really hungry. Actually, I think we maybe overcooked it slightly…we were the only table with black smoke billowing above our grill. Neither Bada nor myself are highly domestic.
The second time we went there, however, we learned the secret to keeping the flames down: ice cubes. So simple.
I learned a lot the second time we dined at the Korean restaurant, including:
1. It is impolite to turn down someone’s offer to taste their food. If they offer, YOU MUST SAY “THANK YOU” and eat it! Naturally, I ate plenty of seaweed (nori) from the table next to ours before ordering a plate of it for our table.
2. Ooolong-hais have much more alcohol in them than I had estimated. Much, much, more. And they don’t follow pomegranate-cherry mimosas very well…
3. Puking up seaweed is not an experience I would like to repeat in the future.
Obviously, I may have slightly outdone myself as far as the adult beverages were concerned that night. And by slightly, I mean I was in rare form. As a matter of fact, to thank the gentlemen at the neighboring table (Hammer and his friend) who were so generous with their seaweed and compliments (they kept calling me beautiful), I gave them a cake.
Yeah. I gave them a cake.
I had an extra red velvet cake in my bike basket from a picnic earlier that day (reference pomegranate-cherry mimosas). Both cake and frosting were generously enhanced with Bailey’s. It was a good cake. But still, a random girl drunkenly runs up to you and gives you a homemade (from a box – reference aforementioned lack of domestic skill) cake and what do you think? Probably something like, “Did this crazy girl lace this cake with rophenol so she can eat my face off Miami Zombie style when I pass out?”
I doubt I would eat a cake from a stranger. No matter how pretty they are. Still, I hope both Hammer and his friend enjoyed the cake. It was a good cake.
And I’m enjoying Japan: every bite of it!