Of all the bountiful feasts laid before me in my many travels around this blue marble - there are 3 chefs who surpass all others in my book: Yoshiko Heafy (my Okasan), the duo of Tammy and Ross Davis (my in-laws who can top any Southern cook as far as I’m concerned), and my partner-in-culinary-crime, my wife Ashley Heafy.
As it is with the case with most food-adventurers, their family members (who can cook) usually have the skills to top even the best restaurants said adventurer has eaten at. I’ve mentioned previously how Japanese food is something I require on a cellular-level - so - every time I am home, I beg my mom to make some of her Japanese-delicacies.
Since I am in a constant state-of-motion, my eating experiences “at home” are always in-between tours. I believe this trip to my mom’s was in between Mayhem and the Dream Theater support tour; I asked my okasan (mom in Japanese) to make “anything Japanese.” Now - side note - there is a massive misconception in America that Japanese cuisine is limited to: Sushi and that flaming-onion-flinging, stomach-wrecking, pseudo-Japanese chain that people so lovingly mispronounce as “Coh Beez.” When attempting to relay the vastness of the Japanese-culinary-spectrum… I usually compare it to having as many different styles of food as Italian dishes… something like that.
My family get-togethers at my parents’ house (the house I spent from 11 years old and up till the time I moved out) usually consist of: mom (“Mama”), dad (“Bubba”), my sister Michelle and her boyfriend Hunter, Ashley and myself. I find that food is the best way if not the only proper way for a family to really be together, to share the same experience as everyone else at the table with them, and catch up and be happy; so these always work out nicely.
I was blown away when I saw that my mom had made hand-made steamed pork-dumplings (not unlike the ones you see at shiny-carted Dim Sum restaurants) - which, were amazing (I also imagine quite difficult and time consuming to make). Tonight’s main feature would be Yakiniku - a Japanese style in it’s own; just as Sushi is one - Yakiniku is another.
Yakiniku translates to “grilled meat,” and that’s exactly what it is. Yakiniku restaurants in Japan usually have a table with an individual grill for each table - Korean BBQ is very similar to Yakiniku. There are many a drunken-night I can recall from Japan, loudly singing Bon Jovi, drinking cold Japanese Suntory Premium Malts and grilling chicken hearts and beef-livers at the meat-smoked-out Yakiniku places with friends… this is the family-friendly version of Yakinuku here: filet, chicken breast, potatoes, carrots, zucchini, onion, mushrooms, sausage. All amazing.
The sauce that Yakinuku is usually gobbled down with ranges from restaurant to restaurant in Japan - my mom makes her own version of the sweet/tangy/salty-meat-bath. You can quickly dip the meat, or let it hang out for a bit in it - marinating it post-grill. Ebi-chili is chili shrimp that was also a feature - delicious. Miso soup by my mother is something that makes you realize that restaurants can’t touch home-made.
There was seared tuna and rice, then an assortment of deserts as always. In addition to being able to pull off Japanese dishes like Okonamiyaki to Yakinuku and Soba and Yakisoba… my mom can pull off baking like a true pastry-chef. I’ve eaten an entire half of a cake once by my mom and ended up comatose for half a day…
So all in all, like always - it was an absolute pleasure to be able to share this feast together. I say it all the time, and I will again - my favorite things in life, in order: family and friends, food, music; and when it’s some of my favorite people on earth, coupled with some of the best food on the planet - I am a happy Kiichi-kun.