May 12, 2007

Scenes From a Japanese Restaurant -------------------------------------------------
I haven't posted in weeks because the old man is gone and the most exciting photos I took were of my rose bush blooming. So here's a collage of some of the more exciting food I've had this month:

Tsukune (Don't Try to Pronounce It...Just Eat It!)

On this beautiful plate is tsukune, (tsoo-koo-neh,) or minced chicken, vegetables and seasonings pressed on a stick, then grilled over a hot charcoal grill, (aka "yakitori" for those who have really been paying attention.) It's swimming next to a raw (quail?) egg in Hideyoshi Yakitori Shop's secret sauce. The sauce is a highly guarded recipe at all Yakitori shops. (taken at Yumi's wonderful family's restaurant in Kamakura.)

Stamina Tofu (My First Nato Experience)

Nato, the brown clumps between the tofu, is fermented beans with a stickiness similar to okra times ten, (okra is also also between tofu.) It's famous for either being loved or loathed by Japanese but especially loathed by gaijins, (foreigners,) partially because of its repugnant odor. For this reason, my lily ass has avoided the stuff. Yumi and I went to a yakitori restaurant in our neighborhood and I finally got to eat some! It tastes like beans with a hint of coffee or cocoa. She looked at me crazy for saying that, but it's true! It's no takoyaki, but guess what--I dig it! Next time I get sushi--I'm ordering nato!
Oh, and why "stamina tofu?" Nato is supposed to increase stamina. Aren't the strangest foods in every country good for our sex lives?!?! Raw oysters anyone??? (Yakitori Restaurant, Zushi City)

Me to Turtle: "Got Any Last Words?"

I know you've seen Mrs. Ashida holding a turtle, but c'mon! It never gets old! This was two weeks ago when we ate at Ashida's restaurant with the Tanakas. When I first starting eating here, I thought it was a sushi shop and that the owners had a flavor for decorating with turtle shells and Fugu fish. After the strange food experiences, my genius finally figured out that Ashida's specialty is "Supon," (turtle soup, pronounced "sue-pohn") eel and fugu fin sake--all delicious!

(For me, eating something after I've seen it alive is bittersweet and barbaric but it helps that these are the ugliest turtles I've ever seen.)

(Restaurant, Yokosuka)