My love for food is without a doubt, from my mom. From my earliest memories of food as a kid, I remember eating everything. My mom is the best Japanese cook I’ve ever met, but she can also make anything from any other culture’s food. I think the realization that I was eating something great, was when I started school.
First, obviously everything in school tasted really bad - and I wasn’t sure why (I know now it was due to the amazing care and love that my mother puts into making her food). Second, when other kids would talk about what cereal they love - I’d tell them about the heaping bowl of rice and salmon and miso soup that I just had in the morning (it would usually get them to yell “grooooosssss!” or something that still is very typical, stereotypical in the closed-off-American-palette commentary arena).
When I’d eat at other kids’ houses and have their mother’s cooking - it wasn’t the same… it was the same feeling I had when I was eating in the cafeteria - so I definitely started realizing (or maybe I can fully realize now) that I was a lucky kid to be able to eat all the delicious things varying from all over the globe and most importantly - all the delicious things from all over the land of the rising sun.
Japanese food is something I need on a genetic level. If I go too long without Japanese food - my yellowness fades away into a pale grey and I become merely a shadow a beast only faintly resembling myself… thankfully mama lives close by. It’s insane to me that I used to eat that good everyday (and don’t get me wrong - at home nowadays - my wife makes absolutely incredible food; but it will be up to me to pull off the Japanese food - I am always pushing people to be connected with their roots) so that’s why I am always looking for something more on tour.
I can sense good food - utilizing a variety of cross-checking resources: websites, local’s recommendations, eye-balling out the scene utilizing my Bourdain-esque mental checklist of if I am in tourist land or locals-ville; among other bits - so I always try to replicate essentially, eating at home. It doesn’t always happen… and lately it sure hasn’t on this latest tour we’re on… however - to reminisce on good eating is always the closest thing to actually eating well.
Ashley, Miyuki and I met with Michelle and her boyfriend Hunter, and my parents at their house. This is the same house I spent most of my life in - good memories here.
We showed up (and as always) heaps and heaps of impossibly beautiful looking dishes lay out across the dinner table. My parents welcomed us, and it was time to dig in already (my dad likes to get eating ASAP… just because - ha.)
We started with Chuka Salada Chinese Noodle - a Chinese style dish that has thin slices of tamago (egg mixed with salt and sugar), varieties of meat, sprouts, carrots, other greens, and the clear noodles - all served cold with a dipping sauce not unlike soba sauce. Korokke and my mom’s legendary Harumaki spring rolls laid next to the Chuka: Korokke is a deep fried ball of mashed potato and beef (deep fried in a style completely different than tempura - this is panko crusted); the spring rolls are legendary to anyone whose ever eaten at my house - deep fried till crispy, with chicken, carrot, celery - all dipped into a spicy Japanese mustard.
Ebi Chili is shrimp in a chili sauce with green onions; fantastic. Okowa Chinese Sticky Rice is by far my favorite of the dim sum style dishes when it comes to Chinese food. It has a very sticky rice (obviously, right?) with mini-shrimp, pork, mushrooms, and is cooked in this magical sauce. I was stoked to see the two China-style dishes at the house tonight.
There’s a damn good reason I never want Japanese on tour unless I know it’s Japanese made - and it’s my mom’s impeccable cooking. Mom’s miso soup is the same as I remember from childhood - just better than the miso you’ve had anywhere else; I know right away if a Japanese place is legit from it’s miso (and let me tell you… all those high-hatted, onion flinging, blonde-kids-lighting-frozen-shrimp on fire, hot-plate-places… are not Japanese).
Grilled Salmon and Rice is my favorite thing in the world. If I had to pick one thing to eat forever - and that was it - it would be this. Another of my favorite’s in the world, is anything in dumpling form. My mom made hand-made gyoza (well - everything was hand and homemade - but emphasis on this one) and it was as perfect as it’s always been. I’ve been eating this gyoza, like this, since I was super little.
All the wonderfulness of sharing magical food and hanging with loved ones was all accompanied by bottles and bottles of Ginga Kogen Beer (one of the few legitimately Japanese beers you can get in Florida (I get mine through Ken from Shin Sushi (www.shinsushi.com)); most beers that are “Japanese” are actually brewed in Canada).
In my life, family and friends come first; food comes second; music comes third - so I was with 2 of my top favorite things that day.
It was a great recharge of the soul.