Hello there! And Happy 2014!
An extremely belated one to say the least. It's
hard for me to believe that we're already in the month of May, and even
weirder to think that my last 'real' post was back in August of
last year. My attempt here at a catch up, all from the 4-week break I had in Japan last Winter (2-weeks in
Tokyo and another 2 in Okinawa).
for the reason for lack
of posting, in a nutshell other projects had been taking up all my
time (in a good way) but wanted to also mention here that I have no
intention of stopping the ol' blog anytime soon. Expect fewer
posts with the style perhaps evolving, but nothing drastic other than
Jumping towards the end of the break but shown below is a plate of cooked pork liver and tripe alongside a mound of
moist Okinawan sea salt. There's always been a tradition of eating this (nibbling for me?) at my Grandparents on New Years Day.
I never had bothered to ask the reason behind, but was finally explained to me by an aunt. The word Chi
phonetically can mean both "blood" or "soil." The consumption of pork
liver along with the salt which both represents spirits from the earth
to cleans and uplift one's soul in preparation of the coming year. Gotta
get me some of that action, so I have a piece.
rush back that it's unapologetically bitter, dry and bland, but
obviously this isn't about having any gourmet epiphanies. As I swallow
the last piece, it gave me a sense of comfort and even pride for being a
part of this culture, then a final lingering sense of nostalgia.
Visiting grandparents' on New Years Day used to be an annual ritual
right up around Junior High but I couldn't remember when I had the last.
as I mentioned earlier, the first two weeks of my break started in
Tokyo and now that I look back the theme of energizing through these
more personal food encounters seem to have been an unconscious thread.
Seeking out the latest and greatest was less of a priority over using
meals to connect back and strengthen ties with friends and family.
I had to also balance this with a fair amount of "me time" which always seem to be a challenge with these vacations. So I
had also spent a good deal getting off random train stations and walking the
backstreets towards a loosely determined destination. I would spend a day purposely trying
to get lost and enjoying all the serendipitous discoveries. There always
seems to be something interesting to see just around another corner.
This day getting close to noon and in unfamiliar territory again, I decided
to follow a trail of foodie salarymen. These brisk striding guys were intensely engaged in a conversation about past and future
lunch spots the entire way. I felt I wouldn't be disappointed where they'd lead me to so I kept pace at distance and followed.
Restaurant Izumi. Looked like a classic popular-to-locals' Yoshoku spot. Seeming a bit worn from the exterior but I would never have any apprehensions with these and so I'm totally game. :)
Inside what I immediately noticed was that I had inadvertently stumbled on a Kitanachelin spot.(!) Now referred to as Kitanataurant but a segment on a Japanese television show that highlights (in a comedic tone but with honest good intentions) humble and rather
rundown food establishment that serves a surprising good meal.
anyway, inside was a wonderful seventies patina with an older wife
and husband duo, a literal mom-n-pop team. The older husband chef would
greet customers and call
out orders in a crackling almost grandfatherly voice which for me was
very heartfelt. You can tell they both enjoyed what they did.
The dish the show covered (aired back in March of 2010)
was an original pork and cheese grill. However I went for the B-Lunch
Set (800-Yen, ~$8) which was also popular the day. Two of them ready to
be served below and the charming older chef behind.
little bit of everything. Resting on a double pillow of fresh leafy
salad and finely shredded cabbage are various fish fries and croquettes,
a mini hamburg is underneath the sunny-side egg as well as the
ubiquitous small twirl of spaghetti
tucked in the corner. Also comes with a small bowl of miso soup and my
rice had a free ladle of Japanese curry that was a special the day. A great value, the
individual components of the meal nothing out of the ordinary but the
experience as whole with all the intangibles for me something pretty
special. These places are pure magical to me. Looking forward in
eventually sharing the detail
in Tokyo I was able to connect with a few food bloggers, some I've met
and some new. It was an amazing experience and I don't think I felt more
at ease with them. Felt they were my long lost kin, haha. The night out
was with old friend Ginger-san of Shogayaki.com, his partner in crime EatNapo-san of the fame Naporitan X Naporitan blog who've I've been looking forward in meeting for a while, an equal super Tokyo blogger Kimimatsu-san who was also a total joy to finally meet and also Okayo-san of another great dining out blog. We met at Kamata Station and drove to our first destination. Kimimatsu-san's recollection post of the evening here (pt.2 here) and Okayo-san's here.
We ended up at a place called Katagiri which was part meat shop by day and a super locals drinking hole by night.
The local/neighborhood atmosphere was awesome. Starter was Renkon lotus root simmered kinpira style which I thought was seasoned perfectly.
Gyu-motsunikomi (beef tripe simmer) was outstanding, grilled meats and
Yakitori also quite tops. The grilled beef was from a portion called the 'Sankaku' (triangle), a desirable portion of rib meat. My mouth is watering...
Below is Napo-san pouring me my first Oolong-Hai (iced oolong tea with shochu). Wow, what a cool night!
so as usual he had asked for a Naporitan despite it off the menu. (Link to the post on his blog here.) This
"winged" version thanks to the kind peeps at Katagiri we all shared. For
one being made with at-hand ingredients was pretty good!!
Thank you Ginger-san, EatNapo-san, Kimimatsu-san and Okayo-san,
I had an amazing time. Happy 2014. To reconnecting with old friends and
making new ones, Kanpai/Cheers! I'll be back with you all to help
finish that bottle, haha. :)
Will be a part-two of the Deep Kamata series coming as there were more spots we visited the night and I would enjoy sharing.
On this same theme of connecting with old food blogger friends I was also finally able to meet with Kat of the blog Our Adventures in Japan in Osaka! You can read Kat's more timely recollection of our foodie crawl here.
It was a quick one-day trip but it helped me make use of my Japan Rail Pass. A cloudy day with sporadic rain but it didn't phase us any. We trooped along to our first
stop (per my selfish love of B-Kyu Gurume request) was to the friend-of-working-class Nanba Jiyuken who's been in business since 1910 to try their famous "Meibutsu" Curry.
an odd style (Japanese) Curry that isn't found much elsewhere. Each
plate is made to order where the roue is stirred into the rice and tossed in a heated pan. Plated, a divot is formed in the center where a raw egg is dropped
on top. As Kat mentions in her post, Usutaa Sauce (Japanese Worcestershire)
is recommended halfway through the meal to change up flavors while the
egg mixed in mellows it. The curry had some unique spices and was on the
spicy side. I can honestly say I did enjoy it (though not sure how much
Kat liked it, haha). Anyway, another one off my ever growing checklist and I thank Kat for that.
We also shared an Ebi Cream Korokke (shrimp cream croquette) and this was quite wonderful, angry crispy on the outside, a bechamel based molten creamy in with a lot of shrimp flavor. Came dressed with a nice light tomato sauce.
A few more casual quick meals elsewhere but before ending we decided to check out the Doguyasuji which is like an indoor Kappabashi
of Osaka. Since I didn't have time during the break to visit
Kappabashi, I went ahead and did all my kitchen gadget shopping there.
Bought a classic Noda Horo enamel coffee pot, as well as a Misono chef/meat knife ($$), Tampopo style thin frying pan (I'm loving it) and few other random things. I thought
the wrapping paper of this particular shop was so neat. A lot of
additional photos coming up soon for this series as well.
day in Osaka was just too quick but again thanks to Kat was an afternoon with a
lot of visits. Thanks again for making time and the
super fun day!!
And before I forget, below is one of the two retort pack curries I received as a gift from Kat since she knew I
enjoyed trying them so much. Below is the Hanshin Tigers Beef Curry, so cool and thoughtful! I've already tried and was really great but again, saving details for later.
the background by the way is my stash of curries I had brought back.
There is like 30+ (what the heck was I thinking!! Haha). There are a few
instant ramen as well, so I can't say I won't be short on content this year.
off the post with a few more pics. Not surprising I had some really good ramen as
well. Since I'm a fan of general B-kyu Gurume it's a bummer that I can't focus on them
like some ramen specific blogs since the meal is definitely up there as one of my
Have you noticed that none are Tonkotsu? All Shoyu except for one tsukemen I had (not pictured) at Rokurinsha.
Some quick teasers from Okinawa as well... Couple Okinawa Sobas (one with Yushi Tofu), a Taco Rice from the original shop in Kin City (Parlor Senri), Goya Champuru, a Nuuyaru Burger from local chain JEF, and a local fruity yogurt drink Morinaga Yo-go.
wait in getting to share them all. The Foto Buffet style seems to be an
efficient format for me but I've been intrigued at the concept of
posting more of shorter posts, almost Tumblr style. I'll just have to see what works.
Anyway, thanks again for visiting!