Monday, March 17, 2014

In the Realm of the Senses

Odd for me to say this especially since I planned the trip for Japan but I used to have an irrational dislike of sushi and udon. Sure, I practically worship the indescribable taste of sashimi but when it comes to the various makis and rolls, I'm utterly indifferent. Since I doubt the chefs originally planned for me to drown the sliver of sushi in a river of wasabi just to swallow it down, I figured there had to be more to it than that.

Which is why I intended to partake of Japanese cuisine as much as humanly possible during my short trip. Apart from the occasional pork sausage from the convenience store.

Samurai : Did he just say he didn't like Japanese food? 

Let's begin by saying how ecstatic I am to be totally wrong about sushi. Tinged with a bit of anxiety though since I doubt few of our kaiten belt sushi here can compare to the ones prepared in Japan. I can honestly say that I didn't have a meal during my trip that was anything less than oishi.

One of the first meals I had was the elaborate kaiseki meal. All presented in beautifully decorated, perfectly arranged ikebana-like dishes worthy of a dozen Instagram shots. Wish I could say more about it but I seriously didn't know the half of what I was consuming - though I can easily assure everyone that it was all delicious. Attempting to question the ever-attentive hostesses in the ryokan only elicited a confused flurry of garbled sentences that had me even more anxious about the dubious contents of each serving. Fortunately Charming Calvin, the hyper-allergic member of our crew, managed to survive the entire challenging ordeal.

But of course even the intricate kaiseki hasn't gained as much fame as the humble sushi. Attempts at communicating with the helpful locals led us to a small sushi restaurant that could seat twenty at most. It was there that they proved me wrong when it came to sushi. I don't know if it was the fresh ingredients, the fluffy rice, the fragrant seaweed but it call came together in quite a melange of exotic flavours. Even the dreaded unagi which Calvin favours turned out to be scrumptious - and I ordered several after.

Beef sukiyaki came after. Heaven. That's all I can say.

One of the last meals we had was the udon. And we literally stumbled onto this wonderful cafe one morning in Osaka as we were scouting the immediate area for breakfast before catching the train. Didn't seem like much but the workers inside seemed so delightfully chirpy that we had to try the udon - despite my lifelong dislike of it. Glad I took that chance since the Marugame udon was simply delicious. Who knew plain boiled udon liberally doused with soup broth and some egg would taste that amazing. The freshly deep-fried tempura was only the perfect accompaniment to the meal.

And for late night supper every night, I usually tried out every possible instant ramen there was. Can say without a doubt that the Ippudo instant ramen trumps them all. Though not as wonderful as the real deal - and yes, I visited several Ippudo stores, it comes relatively close for a five-minute instant noodle!



4 comments:

Tempus said...

prolly because Malaysian udons ain't authentic enough for your palates?

Ban said...

hahaha... guess who wants to go to Japan for the food?

savante said...

After comparing I gotta say yes tempus hahaha :)

Tempus said...

Gosh, I really need to plan my plane ticket out to Japan one of these practicals in my 4th year!