Friday, September 25, 2015
Japanese restaurants frequently put plastic food in display cases or even out on tables to lure in diners, or to show the variety of their menus. I didn't make enough of a study to determine whether the practice is also helpful to non-Japanese speakers -- you can't point to that plate of food if the plate is out on the sidewalk.
I have pathetically little experience with ordering food in Japan, despite two weeks on the ground. On my first visit, five years ago, I was always accompanied by Japanese speakers who not only knew how to read the menu, but knew what was the best thing on it. On my most recent visit, an organized tour, our meals were generally pre-ordered and simply appeared on the table. There was no plastic food in any of the restaurants we visited.
But I saw plenty of it on the streets, and it did look pretty good. As I review the photos, I can barely tell the difference between the plastic food and the real stuff!
Monday, September 21, 2015
Just as we (used to) love our fondue, Japanese love to sit around a hot bubbling pot and cook their own savory tidbits. Shabu-shabu starts with a pot of broth bubbling over a burner; ours came to the table full of goodies. You can identify tofu, black beans, enoki mushrooms and spinach but I don't remember what the bread-like chunks were. Maybe bread?
You dunk all the food below the surface and bring it out wet and savory. Then comes your plate of paper-thin sliced pork -- two different kinds, you will notice, each with a different pattern of marbled fat. You put a slice into the pot for a minute or two, then fish it out and chow down.
Finally after you've eaten and eaten and eaten, the waitress brings a bowl of noodles to put in the (sort of) empty pot of broth. We were so stuffed that we barely touched them. I hope they put the leftovers out for some homeless people, because a whole lot of homeless people could have had a fine dinner.
The food was great but the excess was off-putting. What you see in the pot was for four people (I think it could have served six or seven easily) and the plate of pork was for two.
And I didn't mention the three courses that came before the pot -- exquisite plates of mystery food.
But that's quibbling; the food was both delicious and beautiful. I didn't get the feeling that it was just a tourist meal, although I would recommend it to any tourist.