Purpose one: writing a travelogue to describe my various trips.

Purpose two: muse.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Japan: Gourmet Paradise

The food in Japan is quite possibly the best in the world. I think it's better than in France. It's so different it's difficult to compare, but I found the Japanese consistency mind-boggling.

I learned to look for the vegetable displays outside the restaurants. At first, I thought these indicated a vegetarian restaurant. I think it means that the restaurant serves Kaiseki. They are delicious meals, though the tab can run up with all the little dishes. The prices look innocent, but soon you've ordered for $50 worth of items.

The reason they are vegetables out front is probably that meat would go bad.

There was a disparity in the quality of savory foods in the restaurants and noodle-shops, vs. the sub-standard sweets they served in the tea-rooms and coffee-bars. A good friend of mine has a theory that you cannot make good deserts without good dairy. Japan in a way both proves and counter-proves this. Throughout Asia, the dairy is mediocre. One casualty from this is that after twenty years of insisting on a little cream in my coffee, the last couple of months I have been drinking it black. I'm sure the low quality of dairy is at least partially responsible for the varying quality in Japanese sweets, of which there is a plethora. Yet, you can find the occasional gem, as in the near-perfect green tea ice-cream I had at Tempura Fukamachi.

Parfaits are served in nearly all their "coffee and cake" places. One I got in Tokyo was quite good.

This noodle shop in Osaka serves the best noodles ever.

These noodles are so good, one meal here converted me to a noodle fan.

These noodles are so good, I could have dinner in another place, then come here and have noodles for desert.

These noodles are so good, if you visit, I dare you not to finish the bowl.

If you decide to look for it, go from Namba subway station towards the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium. It will be just past a McDonald's on a road something like "Nansai." (Citing from memory, which is unreliable with Japanese proper nouns).

One of the advantages to paying $200 for a world-class barbecue, besides the perfect food, is the decor and the views. Kamon is at the top of the Imperial Hotel, where you can look over the Imperial Palace and get a rare view of the interior of the Imperial Gardens.

Of course, I had some of the worlds best sushi too, at Kanesaka in Tokyo. I had to wonder how you get sea-food to be so consistent in quality and flavor. I think they need to send a qualified cook, or team, down to the fish market every day, perhaps multiple times in a day, and pick out, by hand, the best of the best of each type of fish. That's time-consuming, and you need trained people to do it. I'm sure they pay a premium both for the quality and for the skimming. No wonder world-class sushi is expensive.

It doesn't hurt to have access to the world's largest fish market.

No comments:

Post a Comment