Adventures in Japan…(Part III)
Before we left for Japan, I must admit I was a little worried about the cuisine. I’m skeptical of things like raw fish, green noodles and fermented salty plums. I needn’t have worried. I was well fed during the trip.
I was terribly excited that Japan has Wendy’s Hamburgers. I was happy to get a fix of Frosty’s and non-McDonald’s burgers. It was a treat I got to enjoy 3 times (twice in one day, my arteries are loathe to announce). Three times in ten days is a nasty fast-food wollop in 10 days, but I figure 3 times in one year isn’t a bad deal…all 3 times just happened to be in one week.
I took a picture of the meal I purchased before getting on the train from Tokyo. These little ‘lunch packs’ are available at all train stations and come in handy when you’re racing to catch a train and don’t have time to stop for a meal. Even though it was cold, the beef was quite tasty, and the vegetables were nice (the brown stringy ones are bracken, not earthworms). The pine nuts on the rice was also a nice touch.
When we were in Sanda visiting Jen and Korey, we discovered a little thatched roof restaurant nestled into the woods beside a stream. It smelled so clean and fresh – like Canadian cottage country after an August thunderstorm, and as you can see from the pictures, all you could see around you was lush green, green, green. The noodles we had there were also delicious – and green, green, green! Soba, as the noodle dish is called, is supposed to be quite good for you. It was such a nice, surprising discovery tucked into the backwoods of Japan.
As tasty as Wendy’s, Noodle houses and Train food were, the highlight meal was one that Jen’s cousin treated us to. The restaurant itself was an incredible experience. The building was about 100 years old, and you would never know it was a restaurant from the outside. When you walk past, all you see is a doorway and a long flight of stairs going up. After removing our shoes, we were led up the staircase, down a hallway, down another flight of twisting stairs, then down to the end of another long hallway. The hallway had individual rooms along its length. We were led to a room at the end that had tatami mats on the floor, sliding wooden lattice-work doors, and a beautiful Japanese garden with a small pond just outside the floor-level window. In the middle of the room were two tables, each standing in a pit in the floor, so we sat on the floor, but our legs hung down into the pit. We sit on the floor alot in Korea, but my legs still get stiff or numb after a long meal. It was nice to trick my legs into thinking we were at a table. The meal itself was very tender beef, vegetables and tofu grilled by a skillful waitress right at the table. The atmosphere, presentation and flavours all combined to make what’s likely to be the most (pleasantly) memorable meal of my life. (As you can see from the picture, I also got to drink Canada Dry Ginger Ale: another treat not obtainable in Korea).