Japan – The land Beyond just sushi!
Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo,Japan-is the world’s biggest fish auction market and has an electrifying energy to it .To be served the freshest ever possible seafood prepared by the finest & generation’s old sushi master right there ; I do consider myself very lucky! Cleansing my palette between each bite with gari , I tried everything from the lean to full fat tuna , uni to eel ; yellowtail to octopus, as much I could physically cope up with…i walked out brimming with satisfaction.
On the very first evening walking the Shibuya crossing(which is the worlds busiest crossing)I was stirred with the anticipation of the food tail ahead.We walked into a Jazz bar,where a fabulous gentleman sent across cold Sake ; “Kampai! welcome to my country!” and just like that with his hospitality and fine choice ,we were fixated!
Every place has their own version of communal meal,in japan i would say it would be Shabu-Shabu. A broth that is brought to life on the table by adding most delectable local vegetables;essentials being enoki and shiitake.And then literally swaying the sliver of pork no more than four times before its ready to be dipped in Goma or Ponzu sauce , as per ones pallet before it is savored.
The japanese believe in keeping the integrity of their native produce intact;another preparation that follows the principle , is Teppanyaki – and for it we chose award-winning Missono. It was as though they played music on the grill with the spatulas , and each song bought us our course ; prepared to its juiciest perfection.Finished with garlic rice..it is really astounding how just plain rice , garlic , butter & soya sauce tossed together can present such a joy to the tastebuds.
Between some hearty local dishes like flavorful savory pancakes –Okonomiyaki , comforting Ramen and light as feather Tempura I found my new favorite Tonkatsu – Succulent cuts of pork battered and crisped was served along with a large bowl of shredded cabbage , lip-smacking Sosu sauce , sharp Karashi ,refreshing Tsukemono and rice.Observing how they methodically design their portions of vegetables,carbs and proteins ; Its safe to say Japanese are proponents of balanced diet.
Stretching from Harajuku to Ginza,one is spoilt for choice with the – newfangled and traditional confectionaries. They construct a piece of art and not just desserts. It almost causes a dilemma for one , before they dig in.A few that deserve recognition are Ginza Akebono’s Ogonomochi , Shieseido Parlour and the variety at L’Atelier de Joel . Every little detailed animation that came my way , be it the coffee art,hand painted candies made the kid in me-glee!!…well then again we are in the ‘land of Hello Kitty‘-Japan.
Our next stop was awe-inspiring Kyoto. Where along with Cherry Blossoms and Geisha’s what i was eagerly was looking forward to was the Tea-ceremony and Kaiseki meal that was to be served to us at our Ryokan-Sumiya. Ryokan’s are traditional inn’s of Japan that I would say are made to transport one in time!
Matcha certainly is an acquired taste but if you have one , along with carrying out the famous Tea-ceremony do not forget to try some toothsome Matcha desserts like the parfait served at Saryo Tsujiri Daimaru.
Later in the evening,We were changed into our kimono’s and a perfect obi was knotted around us…sitting in the Vajrasana pose we were primed to commence our Kaiseki meal. Kaiseki is an art form showcasing knife skills and balance of taste,texture and appearance.Our radiant middle-aged hostess carried out our 14 courses from behind the rice-paper doors. Each course was apt sized,every element on the dish sang in harmony and how the intensity of the flavors grew with each dish is praiseworthy.
It indeed was a fitting finale to my sojourn in this mystical land – Japan.
Japan left us awe-struck and hungry for more…One country that that should be on top of the list on every FOODIE’s bucket List.11
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