Ichi The Kiichi (The Early Years) II



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(day 1 continued)


The next dish was (if in the USA it would be called this) Shrimp. 3 ways. It was shrimp covered in Japanese mayo (a completely different taste than our american mayo), deep fried shrimp heads (the best part of a shrimp to me; cooked the best way), and shrimp crackers. This dish was something special. The shrimp mayo was probably one of the best damn things we ate that night - Japanese mayo has a sweeter flavor than US-mayo, and it’s far lighter; fried shrimp heads… if you haven’t had them done right before - try it; it rules.Nigiri. Ofcourse - gotta have it. It’s done differently here; there aren’t mixed “memphis” and “hawaiian” rolls… it’s nigiri and sashimi. Served room temperature. Your sushi isn’t a boat, intended to float in a bath of soy sauce - here, it’s done right. A very thin layer of soy sauce is placed in the soy dish - you dip the nigiri upside down to only dab a small amount of soy on the fish (not the rice). The electric green wasabi that is handed in mountains in sushi bars all over the world are non-existant; the wasabi connects the sashimi to the rice (when the chef feels like it needs it.)

Grilled salmon takes me back to being a kid. My mom always made salmon, rice, and miso soup - THE japanese breakfast. This salmon was perfect.

Suntory is my favorite beer on earth. “Japanese” beer in the USA usually isn’t Japanese. It’s Canadian. Kirin? Sapporo? Brewed at Molson in Toronto. I think it’s the same with Asahi (i could be wrong on this one). Japanese beer does not taste Japanese to me in the USA - here… it is the best beer on the planet as far as i’m concerned. It’s light, but malty and strong at the same time; it is the perfect compliment to the delicate (and intricate) flavors that is Japanese food. Japanese food is about simplicity… it’s about the dish you’re eating. When you order Chicken cartilage fried; that’s what you get - with the recommended condiment - it’s not covered up by side dishes. (This texture may have scared some off - justifiably so though.)

The crab was fantastic - the artichoke mixture stuff was a mystery- but fantastic… very un-Japanese flavor there; almost reminded me of something you’d see in French cooking.

Yaki-tori could be a movement like sushi. It’s a whole different style; there are chefs that just make yaki-tori, restaurants that only serve yaki-tori. All meat… on a stick… grilled? Fantastic thing.

After the half a dozen Suntory Premium Malts a piece, we needed something warm. Ocha. Japanese green tea. Euphoric.

Our night-cap was Hobgoblin. A british pub. In Japan. Ha! I saw all sorts of British style pub grub on chalkboards written up on the walls; a pretty badass guitar player sang the Mississippi style blues - real cool stuff.

We drank Yebisus till it was time to get to sleep.

All in all… quite the homecoming.