Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Asia Mega Tour II - About Eating In Japan

Well I never thought I'd say this but I will. I am not that fond of Japanese cuisine. Maybe it is because we are just eating sort of daily food. My father who did business in Japan for decades raved about eating in Japan. Maybe it is a whole different thing when you are in the high level, expense account world. But our experiences have been that the flavor profiles and texture profiles preferred here are just jarring to our preferences.

Yesterday we had a food tour and was hoping that I would discover that in our ignorance we were just ordering the wrong things or choosing restaurants poorly. However what the tour ended up doing is confirming the very basis of Japanese cooking - the use of dashi (a fish based stock) and mirin (a sweet wine) as the fundamental basis of their sauces and dishes. Then there is a love for things that are very bland that accompany the strong fish/sweet flavors. And the the fact that much of the food comes out sort of tepid. I have to say that I just don't like it. I think this is the first Asian cuisine eaten on site during our travels that I've not liked.

On the Food Tour
Here we are at the Nishiki Market just as everything has opening up
This used to be the big fish market in town. Now it is becoming more and more oriented toward the tourist trade. It still has tons of shops that produce and sell products for the discerning Japanese gourmet though.


Before we went to the market our guide showed us a shrine that she said was one of the oldest in Kyoto. It turns out is was built buy the same guy who was exiled to Daizifu and had the shrine there built. Remember the bull that was associated with giving you intelligence?
Here we had the bull to ourselves. Wife caressed it for a LONG time so since she's already smarter than me I'm in big trouble now.
Shops here specialize in just one thing and do it very well and at the highest quality.
This one was dedicated to dried nuts and beans
This one to all kinds of dried vegetables
Dried Fish and Cured Fish
What does one sample at the dried/cured fish place?
A whole grilled salted fish - entrails and bones included

Scronch, Scronch - Pretty good. If you like English fried kippers you'll like these
Moving on - Chestnuts
Various kinds of things to be fried like fish paste cakes and age tofu
The prepared chicken place. So tempted to get some fried chicken but settled for a skewer of chicken neck meat. It was tepid (sigh) like so much here.
Traditional pickles pickled in the lees of sake

Other kinds of pickled vegetables
Our guide Robin, a young lady from Ireland who has been working in Japanese kitchens in Kyoto for two years.
We finished off with a traditional style Kyoto meal.
Robin assured me this was of a higher caliber than what we may have been eating.
My meal was all based on soy products, yuba - the skin from making tofu, and tofu itself
Wife opted for Sukiyaki
 
Without going into great detail, I will just say that this meal confirmed that I just don't like the combination of flavor profile, textures, and heat profiles that the Japanese seem to embrace. There were a number of dishes that I enjoyed but an equal number that just did not appeal to me.

A Day Without a Temple is a Day Without Sunshine

Actually we didn't have any sunshine event though we did to to another temple. This time we headed out of the tourist heart of the city south to the Toji Temple. This is notable because its buildings are still the ones from the 17th century when so many others have been rebuilt or replaced dating to the late 19th early 20th century. We also had a treat as there were a number of old Buddhist statues and other art on display inside the buildings. Unfortunately, as has so often been the case, picture taking was not allowed :(.

It took a subway ride and a long walk (in part because I navigated wrong) to get there in the grey cold
Oh, under construction. How unusual for a de-I trip.
I took us a while to find the actual entrance

And meet the patron monk
And making use of the lessons from our photography workshop
A Study of Pagoda and Japanese Garden



And no post is complete without SIGNS OF THE WORLDi
 
I think this refers to a variety of anti-social behaviors...or it might be safety related to the subway. But I mean really look at that guy leaning on the fence. He's a slob. He's got no posture at all.

 




3 comments:

Tom P said...

Loving the pictures. Surprised about the food!

alexis said...

I am surprised about the food too! I really loved Japanese food with notable exception of the extreme fishy tastes. But that features in other Asian cuisines to my mind. I had no idea tepid annoyed you so much. I actually don't like my food too hot, I feel like they have less taste.

Renee Michelle Goertzen said...

Sorry to hear that the food hasn't been your favorite. I think that tofu skin is one of my favorite foods. But I don't eat a ton is Japanese because they hide fish in everything :)