If I had to pick eating in Korea or Japan, I’d pick Japan.
Spoilt for choice. And so good. And quite cheap, in the main. And interesting customs around food. I found the whole experience, baring their tea, around food exciting.
One lunch we had tempera. Oh it was good! And such as ceremony. You can sit at the bench and watch them cook.
They bring the tempura out a couple at a time so it doesn’t go soggy. There’s a small tray with little containers of different flavoured salts. And a dipping sauce and pickles (much milder than the Korean pickles, hardly counts as pickled in comparison.) and a bowl of Miso soup. I am a convert. Miso soup in Japan was really good. And Japanese rice. So glorious. Little individual gems. I can see why they protect their rice industry. Very different from long grain or jasmine rice or rice from Australia, Indian or Vietnam. What a feast! Maybe $20.
One night I talked my companion into eating at a tourist trap. A group of restaurants up high overlooking the glorious skyline of Tokyo. Yes, we paid much more for the experience. And the food, while fine, was not the best we had although by far the most expensive. Actually I couldn’t go into raptures about it. Italian served by a Turkish waiter in Japan. I can eat Italian at home.
Still look at the view.
So we enter. Only to be shouted at and kicked out by the waiter. Are they closing? Do they not want western women?
A passing American who lives in Tokyo explained. We have to order our food outside from an automatic machine. Pay there and take the ticket inside.
But who do we know what we want? No, we prefer the old fashioned way of ordering food in Australia.
Oh, what’s that?
Talking to a waiter.
Anyway, ticket produced we enter the cafe to much warmth and welcoming. And are served a big bowl of laksa type soup with noodles. And the waiter speaks very good English. (Why didn’t he explain the machine ordering when he sent us out?) We can have a second serve of noodles free. Two serves come with the order. No thanks. We are stuffed. And only $10 or so. And really yummy.
(I think you can get instruction on YouTube on how to order food from the AOM, automatic ordering machine.)
I felt like a curry. My step-mother-outlaw was Japanese and made an amazing curry that she said was traditional Japanese. My companion is doubtful and as she has visited Japan before clearly doubts my claim. Anyway we try an Indian restaurant.
Hahaha. Too funny. They have four curries. I order the chicken as the photo looks like butter chicken (which it was) and which was OK in the manner of shopping centre food courts in Australia. Comes with a wonderful, fluffy, large naan. And that Japanese rice I was in raptures about a few nights ago. Seems Japanese rice doesn’t really suit Indian food. And as to the other curries, they don’t have names. Just the name of the main ingredient. Okra curry. What is the base? Curry. Mmm. My companion had two curries. She said her second was awful. As was the somosa we ate. Inedible. Hardest pastry I have ever eaten.
OK, we’re in Japan. Let’s eat Japanese. I found it. A Japanese curry place. Apparently a chain. I order one that looks like my step-mother-outlaw’s. (Thank god for menus with photos.) Except I leave the lotus flower vegetable (looks pretty but tastes of nothing. Must be another “eat it cause it’s healthy” thing!) and the bean curd (blah stuff with a horrid texture) and deep fried chicken that tastes like KFC and was placed on top of the chicken curry and I paid extra for even though I didn’t realise I’d ordered them and didn’t want them. OK, I may have not made the meal sound appealing but it was! And hit the mark. And cheap.
One last meal. A noodle-y dish served on a hot plate embedded in your table. Except everything is already cooked. Was this to keep it warm? Or just for effect – the finely shaved pork waved and curled up in the heat in an interesting manner? Who knows. We’re in Osaka for this meal and unlike Tokyo, have fewer English speakers to explain. But again a cheap, delicious and filling meal.
Walking to offices in Tokyo I was excited by the lines of people queuing for lunch. (A slow line. A long wait. They are soooo patient and orderly.)
I wanted a bento box. If everyone is waiting patiently for what seems like most of their lunch, it must be worth it. No?Turns out no.
The packaging is beautiful. Told you the whole ceremony around food is exciting. But the food is cold. Cold prawn. Cold fish. Cold rice. Cold lotus flower root. Cold strange bits and bobs. I thought it would be warm.
My empty box is below. I was going to keep it. They thought I was strange. Turns out they were right. The box stunk of fish. I wouldn’t get through customs at Sydney airport. But it was such a well made box to be disposable. (I was momentarily overcome and forgot my box decluttering challenge.)