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SPEAKING OF PLATES & BOWLS…

Searching for places to eat was half the fun… sometimes hinting at what is served behind the typical curtains.

After all those garden tours we were predictably hungry. I’ve made some mention that the food was remarkable, so, as would be expected we made a full cart of food porn. We enjoyed some fancy fine dining yet there were also so many noteworthy casual meals… like this one offered near the palaces… simply satisfying.

There is a story we never heard about the symbolism of lanterns outside bars & restaurants…

We nosed out one favorite meal  in one of the back streets of Kyota’s Ginza [the geisha quarter] where one must simply celebrate blind adventure. This Korean style grill became a heaven of sake glasses filled to a generous overflowing into the saucer… we were encouraged by gestures of our impressario waiter to pour back into our glasses. This was the generous style of the place as we were provided ample quantities of good fish. meat & vegetables to grill at our whim.

It was a sweetly simple operation…  just the two of them.

We both were quite happy & did indeed consider coming back the evening we made the unfortunate mistake of trying to dine in the Chinese pomposity of a restaurant in out Myako Hotel…
Many meals included a sushi course… We also had entire meals of raw fish.

I bought these boxes of typical fast food in a train terminal for one leg of travel… perfectly tasty!

 I do not know what the leaves were… ‘didn’t taste like shiso…
 
Big department stores are famous for amazing elaborate food markets in their basement floors… quite  fulsome simply to peruse with one’s amazed eyes, although they were giving many samples as well. Additionally they have a variety of good restaurants on their upper floors as well. During a late lunch in one of those, I noticed after eating everything, that the service was notably artful.
A typical meal has numerous small dishes & bowls presenting the courses.
Before all meals a moist, usually warm, napkin was presented on a tray. In fast-food places they were pre-packaged in plastic.

The chopsticks are always presented on a decorative a rest right in front…
Our phones or cameras somehow seemed to become part of the service…
In a ryokan… a traditional Japanese Inn… one is served in one’s rooms by a maid dedicated to guests for the entire stay… This is the opening of our first such private dinner… served by Myoko… who was running the food from a distant kitchen, sometimes serving several rooms at the same time! One could hear her vigorous footsteps along the passageway.
There had been something quite tasty in that carefully cut lime shell…
& a ginkgo berry on that little forked bamboo pick…
While I’m pretty facile with my knife work… I discover my obvious need to practice!

Abundant fish! Often raw as sushi. Cooked all sorts of ways…
A little pastry purse filled with… mushrooms, I think…

A menu for one of the meals served in our room at Yoyokaku.

 Breakfast at the ryokan was served in a separate dining room at the time of our choice, determined the night before. We arrived to trays with the basic meal: a porridge of rice or barley; miso, usually with clams; an egg custard; various pickles; a whole small crispy fried fish & a bowl of rice. 

Since tea was always served with breakfast, we were offered coffee afterwards in the library lobby…

Shabu-Shabu is richly veined beef with vegetables… cooked at the table in a slow dance resulting in a delicious broth to sip at the end…

Stevie likes!

An extraordinary lunch had been set-up for us by edict from Terry-san at a pristine sushi restaurant with only six seats… which we had to ourselves. There was nothing extraneous to the gorgeous slabs of wood on which the morsels were created & served individually in front of each place. The chef, with bleached hair & ears with big piercings never spoke. He minced & obsessively wiped the wood surfaces at ever turn. This became  fascinating theater!

His first act was to vigorously grate fresh wasabi into a fluffy mass, sett aside next to a container of rice. This process required several wiping rituals, sometimes of surfaces which had hardly recovered from the last time!

Carefully lifting a covered tin containing a single fillet of a precious fish from a refrigerator beneath, he artfully sliced two thin slices Then, wiping both the top of the lid & the bottom of that container, replaced it. Deftly he sculpted a lump of rice tickled with a bit of wasabi & topped with a slice of the  fish, laid side by side to be picked up as a pair to be gently brushed with a glaze of soy sauce before being presented to us. We learned later we were expected to pick them up with our own fingers instead of the chopsticks we used.

This became the form for a dozen courses, each from another tin, wiped top & bottom, sliced & assembled

 One course was grilled hidden inside a cabinet…
 We were given our first taste of Ginkgo berries as a minimal ancillary course…

 This experience would seem to be our prime example of current hauteur-couture in Japan. Stephen described it as perhaps the most expensive lunch ever…

 Our last meal at Yoyokaku featured hand-made calligraphic place mats by our host’s wife…

 Our last night in Tokyo…
The meat case at the restaurant where we ate the last night in Tokyo before flying home…

Returning to Tokyo for one last night before flying home, we met friends of Terry-san for our fourth meal of the fantastic Kobe beef… this time as Sukiyaki… seared in an iron pot with a sauce. We were given the richest eggs [from high altitude hens we were told giving them that intense golden color] whipped raw as a dipping sauce! The resultant intense flavor one must suppose coated our arteries for several days! Dessert was thankfully a simply lush peach sorbet.

 A green tea ice cream cone hit the spot one warm afternoon!