FRIDAY in Japan was darn depressing- I hadn't eaten at any resto on my list (although I did eat at some fine restos and was happy with the food) because of logistics, and I only had 1 1/2 days to go. SIL and I had planned to wake up at the ungodly hour of 4 am to catch the action at the Tsukiji Fish Market and eat some freshy-caught seafood for breakfast, then jog around the grounds of the Tokyo Imperial Palace. The plan sounded good on paper, but we were bone-tired and didn't meet up until 9am. Too late for the fish market, which is why I am going back to Japan in 2 years time when SIL graduates from fashion school for good. Too late for the Imperial Palace too, because apart from buying last minute "pasalubongs" at the Y100 shop (yes, I am a cheapskate),I had to buy books at the bookstore I visited on my first day, then meet up with my sleepyhead hubby and son for lunch. I know there are bookstores in HK too, probably carrying the same titles at a cheaper price, but irrational me had to have some books to bring home. I already had one in my luggage from our visit to Kyoto- Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights". How ironic is that- buying an English classic at an obscure Kyoto bookshop! What can I say? It was on sale.
WE VISITED the Takashimaya basement food shop, after waiting patiently for the doors to open and the perpetually bowing attendants to usher us in, and I bought some pickled ginger and cooked gyoza. THe Japanese waste too much paper in wrapping their food products, and I hated the layers of paper and plastic I had to grapple with before reaching my food. I was hungry, darn it, and not in the mood to open presents like it was Christmas. Their landfills must be choking. I don't mind the wrappers when they're for presents, though, because it's a nice, elegant touch, but when I'm buying food to assuage hunger pangs...
AT THE bookstore with the tiny English books section on the top floor I bought:
Mark Kurlansky's CHOICE CUTS (A Savory Selection of Food Writing from Around the World and Throughout History) with essays by MFK Fisher, Waverly Root, Alexandre Dumas, Pablo Neruda, Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens and other literary and foodie heavyweights.
Taras Grescoe's THE DEVIL"S PICNIC (Travels Through the Underworld of Food and Drink) which is "an investigation of what thrills us, what terrifies us, and what inspires us to travel ten thousand miles and evade local authorities..." Very intriguing.
Rudolph Chelminski's THE PERFECTIONIST (Life and Death in Haute Cuisine) which takes a look at the world of French haute cuisine, and how one of France's most celebrated chefs took his own life when his restaurant ratings dropped and rumor spread that he was about to lose a Michelin star. It is my dream to eat at (at least 5) Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris.
AT THE Y100 store I bought these popular, lightweight, clear plastic umbrellas to bring back to HK. I gave one away, and the other one was so lightweight I forgot it in China on a trip to Shenzen.
FOR LUNCH we went to Shibuya, took some pictures of the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world (which reminded me of the SOGO Causeway Bay crossing on weekends and holidays) and took a snapshot of me standing by the Faithful Dog - the one who waited faithfully for its owner at the same spot for years after he died- who has a bronze memorial erected in his honor. Note: The bronze statue was stolen a few weeks after we left Japan in a daring heist, to be sold in the black market, probably.
I WANTED to search for a tonkatsu resto featured on my list, but we couldn't find it so we settled for this:
3 kinds of tonkatsu sauce: a tangy one, a sweetish one, and a spicy one
can't wait for the tonkatsu!
the food was ok
THE REST of the afternoon was spent shopping for hubby's office shirts. He likes the Japanese brands because they are so trendy and metrosexual-looking. Perfect for my queer-eyed better (dressed) half.
DINNER was a treat from one of SIL's Pinoy friends who has lived in Japan many years. He wanted us to try authentic Kyushu cuisine called Motsunabe and brought us to a well-known restaurant in the Asakasa area. SIL and I were delighted with everything we tried that night, especially the mango sake and lychee sake we sipped while munching, although hubby and little boy were wary of the dishes.
HERE IS Motsunabe's description, from Wikipedia: Motsunabe (Japanese: もつ鍋) is a type of nabemono in Japanese cuisine, which is made from beef or pork offal. A hot pot (nabe) is filled with soup, prepared beef or pork offal and boiled for a while; cabbage and garlic chives are added. The base soup is usually soy sauce with garlic and chili pepper, or miso. Champon noodles are often put into the pot and boiled to complete the dish.The offal used in motsunabe is mostly beef intestines, but various kinds of offal can be used.
this is liver steak, breaded, fried and served with a tangy sauce. you can only order one per person each time you go there. each liver is counted. this resto does not accept walk-ins. ever. the liver was so good, crunchy but not greasy, with no aftertaste.
the specialty of the house- motsunabe. here the pot is covered with cabbage, bamboo shoot and garlic chives with chilies on top. we set the pot over a high flame, and as the vegetables wilted into the soup, we scooped the fillings, composed of various innards, into our bowls. the broth was very garlicky and flavorful.
a stir-fried mixed vegetable and innard dish
crunchy "mustasa" salad with a piquant mustard dressing, tomatoes, steamed lotus root and crisp sugar snap
pickles on the side
this tamago had an extra special pinkish ingredient inside. i thought it was "bihod" (fish roe), because of the tiny dots that popped (very slightly) but saucily in my mouth. hubby ate it first before trying to find out what is was. lo and behold, it was a Fear Factor ingredient- bull's testicles. not bad tasting at all. i would eat it again.
we fnished it all off
sweet potato and purple yam ice cream to refresh our tongues and glide smoothly down our throats after that very interesting and full-bodied dinner
KNOWING it was our last night in Japan SIL and her friend brought us to Roponggi Hills for coffee. Little boy and I had wandered off to check out the lobby of the Grand Hyatt Tokyo and grab a copy their spring food brochure. Hubby was so happy the girl behind the Starbucks counter could speak English, with an accent at that. We were finally able to order a latte with skimmed milk (not the best choice but we are not coffee lovers to begin with) after 6 days of full-fat milk. While sipping our coffee we saw several Caucasians in either business suits or trendy clubing attire walk by. One was a bald, handsome man in a pink button-down shirt and white jeans. He was HOT. SIL thought he was smiling at her so she smiled back, until we realized, after much debate, that he might have been smiling at hubby. HAHA. In any case, hubby was giving him the once-over too because he liked the guy's clothes. Hubby was in a pink sweater, by the way. It was a laughter-filled evening until little boy got tired of running around, coughed endlessly, and proceeded to vomit all over Starbuck's Roponggi Hills' shiny, clean floor. Good thing the Japanese are so polite. The staff did the polite thing and helped us clean the mess. We took that as a sign to take little boy home to rest.
HAPPY ME went to bed that night with thoughts of more exotic meals to come when I visit Japan again.