Saturday, November 17, 2012

The art of eating (Japan)

Along with the fact that I experienced this country alone (I met people along the way but it's always different), I'm writing this post separated from the previous one because Japanese food deserves it!! Yes, chinese food, mongolian food, buryat food, russian food they're different from ours, no doubt about it. But only here I ate things and had no idea what they were, not even after I ate them!! Only here I tasted something I had tasted before I asked myself "What the hell is this??!!". Only here I ordered food by pressing a button and didn't know exactly what to expect!
Yes, Japanese food deserves a dedicated post on its own right!

I didn't have to wait long for my first experience. Right on the first night I asked for a nice restaurant near the hostel. They gave me a map where the restaurant was signaled (although not very accurately), showed me a photo of the entrance, wrote the name of it in Kanji and... I still couldn't find it! Maybe I was too hungry, too tired, too something, but I was not able to it at all :P I ended up entering in another restaurant on the same street. On the first glance I knew that one was not the one I had been pointed to, but decided to go inside anyway. Beyond me there was only a couple that was talking with the owners. I sit and the I'm asked (in Japanese) what I wish to eat! As I have no idea what to answer I'm pointed to a list on the wall... written in Kanji! Again I have no idea what to say. So they bring me outside to a panel with photos, I point to one that looks like a soup and he asks me "Soba? Udon?" The first words I understood (thank you Nood!). I choose soba and now I just have to wait for the meal! When it comes the couple gets ready to leave and on their way out they ask me if I want I photo. So, through the kindness of strangers I have a photo of my first meal in Japan. Which was great, by the way! :)

Soba "soup" was my first meal

A few days later I ended up going to the restaurant that had been advised to me on that first day. Maybe because I went with a few friends and they helped me getting there :P. It was actually a good experience where we had to cook our own food, a kind of omelet. Here are some photos:

For one of the orders we needed a bit of help from the staff

We (starving) waiting for the food to cook

And there was a new story, similar to this one, or more to do with the strange looking food I saw, but a new story, almost every day!
Eating food and had to post a photo of it on facebook to understand what it was (its taste was complete new to me); or when I tried one of those places where you make an order by pressing a bottom in a panel (where you also pay) in front of the restaurant and as everything was in kanji I didn't know exactly what I was ordering; or going up and down a food market and being unable to identify around 80% of the food; or even asking for the flavor of a  box of sweets with no success at all! Yes... a big part of the Japanese experience is the food. And although the flavors are often very strange, from time to time, you are surprised with food that is simply amazing, as I had on my last night in Nagoya when I ordered tempura! And thinking of it now... maybe the food reflects the culture and what I have just said, may also be applied to many other different aspects of Japan and its people! :)
So yes, Japanese food more than deserved its own post! :)

Multi-flavoured mochis. I loved the ones I ate in the US but both that I tried in Japan did not make me a fan

Sushi... it is as good as I hoped it would be in Japan!

This is mitarashi dango, a rice flour cake with sweet soy sauce. But I only found that out two days after I ate it! :P

When I bought this I thought it was a sweet. It was salty!

They cook vegetables in very different way

I asked if it was fish and they said yes, but to be honest I couldn't taste it at all!

The one I choose was the one in the bottom left corner.

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