Travels in Japan 2019

by foodhoe on February 29, 2020

Hey there, I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted anything, but I haven’t stopped taking photos of all the good food.   Late last year Mr. K and I went to Japan, an ancient, magical place that I have been eager to visit for a very long time.  35 years ago, I spent a year in Tokyo studying Japanese at the International division of Waseda University.  Going back, it was the same but different; this time around, I wasn’t on a starving student’s budget!  We spent an awesome and epic 2 weeks exploring Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and finally Tokyo.

We landed in Nagoya which is a large suburban city that offers a gentle transition for travelers to  Japan, as it lacks the intense crowds and chaos of the bigger cities.  We had time to adjust, figure out our bullet train schedule, see the sights and of course, eat some local specialties.  The first night we ventured out to Tempura and Wine Kojima (two of my favorite things), where we had remarkably fresh maguro sashimi served with real grated wasabi.

Here are a few examples of the brilliantly crafted tempura:  Shiso leaves with a delicate crisp tempura batter topped with salmon roe and dotted with fresh wasabi.  The texture of the batter was both light and crunchy, so unlike the thick chewy coating we get here in the states.

Along with the superior crisp batter, the array of items dipped in and then expertly fried were mind boggling!  Spears of asparagus covered with freshly shaved parmesan,  scallops, thin slices of matsutake mushroom along with thicker baton shaped pieces, lotus root stuffed with foie gras then dipped in the delicate tempura batter and fried… so many beautiful and amazing flavors!  We had camembert cheese tempura with a tiny bit of jam which was also incredible.  I really need to learn how to make tempura because I never thought beyond prawn and vegetables and now I want to explore the delicious possibilities…

One of the regional specialties of Nagoya is Unagi, the most famous dish is called Hitsumabushi.  The eel is grilled and  served on a bowl of rice with shredded toasted seaweed, tsukemono pickles, grated fresh wasabi, green onions.  My Aunt Motoe instructed us to begin with just the eel and rice. The grilled flesh is rich and succulent coated with a sticky sweet and savory marinade that has delectably burnt edges and is so good with the plain steamed rice.

Next we added in the condiments, each element gave additional dimensions to the dish, and then our server came by with a pot of green tea and poured it into our bowls, making ochazuke, which was the best, my favorite!

We had an interesting appetizer of deep fried eel bone senbei that looked intimidating but were surprisingly not tough, just delightfully crunchy and savory.

We frequented convenience stores like Family Mart and 7-11 because they had ATM machines but the snacks were so fun to check out!  And then there were really amazing arrays of sandwiches and musubi and convenience foods.

One last specialty dish was this Ogura Toast, which is fluffy white bread toasted and buttered then filled with sweet red bean paste.  It was excellent with a cup of strong coffee.

Our next stop was Kyoto, which was so epic, it will be another post… soon, I promise!

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kirk March 15, 2020 at 7:27 pm

Lovely post. We enjoyed Nagoya and I especially enjoyed the honsenbei and kishimen. Look forward to your future posts!

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