Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Travelogue: Spirited Away


Peter Green
 Share

Recommended Posts

Really, I should have had this back in Osaka. That’s where it’s famous. He explained that the term itself is derived from “mon” for “mono” (thing) and the verb “horu”, meaning along the lines of “to put aside”.

I didn't know that! I have confirmed the origin of the word with Wikipedia.

MoGa, if you don't mind, could you put up a translation of more of the details in English? I'm curious about this place. I've found some bits on the old place - Horumon Dojo - on the web, but nothing on this. Why'd he open here? What're his views on offal? What's his shoe size? That sort of thing.

I'm no MoGa, but the linked pages don't provide any of the information you want.

This restaurant was produced by Horumon Club (Japanese only) in 2008! (By the way, this websites provides video clips. Click on the face of that chef, for example, and a video clip will start.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Makkoli for Heaven's sake! It's hard enough to find it in Korea.

My argument with makkoli was that in Korea I had waaaay too easy access to it! :biggrin: In fact, I remember one Saturday night in Hongdae, walking through the park on our way to the clubs, and a guy walked by with a wheelbarrow full of the stuff, selling it. We ditched the idea of hitting the clubs and sat in the park drinking it instead. :biggrin:

Did you mean in restaurants?

I can never go out for grilled meat in Japan, because it kills me to pay for garlic and kimchi. Usually I just make it at home.

Whenever there's a fight there's always a foreigner involved..

In Roppongi that's certainly the case! But my first month commuting in Tokyo, I was waiting to get on the Keio line in Shinjuku at 9 o'clock in the morning, and one salaryman shoved another too hard on his way out of the train. The shoved hauled off and roundhoused the shover in front of all the other commuters. The shover, flat out on the platform, looked shocked, and the shover was immediately lofted in the air above the crowd by his co-workers, and carried thusly up the stairs to the JR level - a lone salaryman, crowd-surfing his way to work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Really, I should have had this back in Osaka. That’s where it’s famous. He explained that the term itself is derived from “mon” for “mono” (thing) and the verb “horu”, meaning along the lines of “to put aside”.

I didn't know that! I have confirmed the origin of the word with Wikipedia.

Yup. He said it wasn't really "discard", but rather "push off to the side" for something to be done with it later. The thought being that you wouldn't put this to guests (friends or paying), but would rather do something with it yourself later on, rather than wasting it.

I wonder why Horumon Dojo would change the name on the place? That's such a great name.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm no MoGa, but the linked pages don't provide any of the information you want.

This restaurant was produced by Horumon Club (Japanese only) in 2008!  (By the way, this websites provides video clips.  Click on the face of that chef, for example, and a video clip will start.)

Phew! I am glad you addressed this!

Peter Green - I'm sorry I gave you the impression I can read Japanese. I can often get an overview with translation software, but written Japanese for me is like crossword puzzles for other people. More like a code I can tap some cracks into but not actually open.

I do have a Japanese keyboard, and the restaurant's name is in Hiragana (a phonetic 'alphabet') the challenge was irresistible!

Thankfully, Hiroyuki has explained more fully than I could, and also pointed out why I posted the links... which is to lead you and others to more information about the restaurant you reviewed. Even without a knowledge of Japanese the pages can yield quite a lot to anyone curious enough to click on the links or run it through an electronic translation service.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder why Horumon Dojo would change the name on the place?  That's such a great name.

Changed hands?

Here's another mystery:

This blog entry, dated June 16, 2006, says that Horumon Dojo Yamiichi Club (ホルモン道場闇市倶楽部) started a new restaurant iin Roppongi, but the restarant was soon renamed to Horumon Club Roppongi Dojo (ホルモン倶楽部 六本木道場).

Did the restaraunt later changed hands to Horumon Club?

The website of Horumon Dojo Yamiichi Club:

http://yclub.jp/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder why Horumon Dojo would change the name on the place?  That's such a great name.

Changed hands?

Here's another mystery:

This blog entry, dated June 16, 2006, says that Horumon Dojo Yamiichi Club (ホルモン道場闇市倶楽部) started a new restaurant iin Roppongi, but the restarant was soon renamed to Horumon Club Roppongi Dojo (ホルモン倶楽部 六本木道場).

Did the restaraunt later changed hands to Horumon Club?

The website of Horumon Dojo Yamiichi Club:

http://yclub.jp/

Ah, the intrigue grows. There could be a great story in this of conspiracies and illuminati!

I love a mystery!

:biggrin:

(thanks, y'all!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

March 30 – Dansu, dansu, dansu

The string of clothing from the entry to my bed pretty much told the tale of my progress through the room when I’d come home.

At least I managed to get to my bed without stepping on Scud.

gallery_22892_5869_12163.jpg

This was our last morning. Scud was already awake when I got up, and engrossed in the cartoons. Myself, I contemplated the softness of my bed, and tried to remember why I wanted to get out of it.

The reason, of course, was to have a bath. My last really proper bath for quite some time to come. This is something I’d miss.

And after the bath, there was the dance of departure. The intricate, ritualized performance in which we clear out of a temporary home, having hoisted our metaphorical leg on the various nooks and fire hydrants.

gallery_22892_5869_35187.jpg

The dance includes the memorial downing of the last Yebisu. We rinsed the can (we always rinse our cans), and made one last entry in the Wall of Beer. Let’s call it an “installation”.

gallery_22892_5869_1254.jpg

Another week and it could’ve been really impressive.

One of my concerns had been getting ourselves and our luggage to the airport. This turned out to be a non-issue. The simple answer was that we took a taxi to the ANA of cherry blossom fame, and from there took the bus out to Narita.

gallery_22892_5869_23871.jpg

Piece of cake.

The airport was still under a high terror alert, but Scud and I had our papers on us, but there were a surprising number of people on the bus (mainly foreigners) who had their passports locked up in their suitcases. I guess I’m just not as trusting as they.

At the airport it was time to settle down and get some food in us in the Cathay lounge.

Yes, we’re back to airport pictures.

And, besides putting on a good spread in the cabin, I’d like to acknowledge Cathay for their graciousness. When I asked if my son could join me in the lounge (I had Scud in cattle class on JAL for the trip back to Vancouver – I have no shame), they didn’t blink an eye, just happily gave us another voucher to get in. Compare that to flying with American or Continental in business when I’d been back in the Americas at the start of the year.

gallery_22892_5869_928.jpg

Here’s the open-faced sandwich/inarizushi selection. Lots of mayonaise squeeze bottle action at play here.

I hate to say it, but I didn’t care much for the bacon. Not really salty enough for me.

gallery_22892_5869_19268.jpg

The onigiri were another matter. They had a great selection of these. And they came colour coordinated!

gallery_22892_5869_3218.jpg

Scud and I ate our way through the plum, the sea tangle, the bonito, and the hot cod roe

(we gave the salmon and tuna a miss).

gallery_22892_5869_10704.jpg

And they also carried Asahi’s dark beer. A little sweet, thick but not to the point of syrupy. Not a great beer, but a welcome change (especially when I’d already been closing the books, so to say). The only problem was that it was on an auto pour system, and I’d just gone for a small glass, rather than the proper beer mug they had there.

I cleaned up the mess, don’t worry.

Scud and I did our farewells.

“Bye.”

“Bye.”

And then I was off for my terminal, and he for his.

The flight to Hong Kong was a nice cocooning out of the country. Pleasant stewardesses, good food (as per the flight in), and to balance out the excellent Le Grand Chef that we’d seen coming in as a food movie selection, we had Johnny Depp’s latest foodie flick!

Sweeny Todd!

I’m hankering for a meat pie.

Next – Hong Kong Retro

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rona says that I confuse people.

Rona's usually right.

We've now finished the recounting of the trip. I'll wrap up my one day in Hong in the Hong Kong thread. Given that I've already covered the first third of a day, the rest should only take me a month or so (stop smirking, you lot).

The time now for this is in the post mortem.

A number of questions have arisen that I promised to address at a later date, and that date is now upon us.

Unfortunately, that means I have to remember the topics.

Feel free to kick in (as I know you will), and we'll take our targets of opportunity.

However, before we get into the blood and guts (no, wait, we already did the horumon), I'd like to make some gestures.

Okay, a gesture.

I'd like to thank all of those who have helped me on this trip, both before, during and after. I think a special round of applause goes out to Rona and Hiroyuki, who have been unstinting in their time and support. For myself, I find this forum is one of the greatest tools for education that exists in our world.

Noisy, but educational.

Also, I'd like to thank Helen, who managed to get Scud to speak more than 10 words on a telephone!

Okay, let the games begin.

:biggrin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hrm, I'm not sure I have any questions but I would like to comment. I think the food looks extraordinary. I loved that you guys moved around a lot and showed us quite a diverse itnerary. I've always loved your travelogues I think you should write a book it's that good. Thanks for all the hard work. Can't wait to see what you get up to in HK.

Oh wait I do have a question: In comparison to all the other trips you've done, say BKK or China, where would you ranks this in terms of eating, sightseeing, and general ease of travel. I'm sure it was costly so we won't even go there. Hopefully the next time Serena will get her chance to spend some time with Daddy. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Darn, I guess all good things must come to an end.:angry: That was far too enjoyable a read, and actually enhanced by the sporadic installments.

So when are you and Serena heading over? :raz:

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh wait I do have a question: In comparison to all the other trips you've done, say BKK or China, where would you ranks this in terms of eating, sightseeing, and general ease of travel. I'm sure it was costly so we won't even go there. Hopefully the next time Serena will get her chance to spend some time with Daddy. :)

Costly? Japan? :raz:

Actually, I didn't find Japan "that bad" in regards to prices on the mid to high end. This is comparing Tokyo with London, Dubai, or New York. In discussions, in generally seems that the prices that were crazy in '97 have hung in that same area. What was an abusively expensive city in the early 90's is now just pricey. For example, my accommodations in Hong Kong proved more expensive than in Tokyo.

That's at the higher end.

It's at the lower end that the crunch comes. The moment by moment stuff of a train ticket here, a cab fare there, and (most difficult to bear) the cost of a beer. When you switch over to that "only 1,000 yen? Just buy it!" mode, you know you've lost it.

But, outside of Tokyo, prices improve quickly. Osaka wasn't as bad, and neither was Kyoto (although admission prices can eat away at you very quickly).

In terms of general ease of travel, you'd have a split decision. I found it quite simple to get around. Give me a map and good shoes, and I'm quite content. Scud, however, would vote to the contrary, citing hours of walking, and the inevitable getting lost trying to find an underground station. The trains are fairly straightforward once you understand the signage and the system of expresses, limited expresses, and large cats that fly through the sky (sorry, Serena's watching Totoro and I caught that out of the corner of my eye).

Sightseeing? If you like anime and manga, it's great! Movies, too. As Japanese culture is a cornerstone of our video life, the simple recognition factor that you experience walking past iconic locales is a lot of fun. But this presupposes a certain exposure already exists. On the historical side, it depends on how much you've read. I'd recently finished The Imjin War, and was keen on seeing Hideyoshi's legacy in the Kansai. And after all the translated "classics" I'd gone through at university, the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa eras all hold a certain fascination for me (and are dead dull to Scud, although he could click with some of the anime locales).

However, I'm not a big fan of temples for their own sake. I can admire the architecture and the materials, but after four or five I start yawning. If I want temples, I'll go back to Luang Prabang (which'll be April next year for Pimai).

gallery_22892_5869_9609.jpg

Eating? Ah, there's the crux of the matter, and one that I'll ruminate over further. For me, eating in Japan was very much an education. In the West we fixate more on sushi and sashimi (hey, in Vancouver the ingredients are so good). I'd been exposed to other elements of Japanese cooking in Thailand and Egypt, but not in an immersive sense, rather as an odd meal here or there. This trip afforded the opportunity to explore paths that I'm just not going to find elsewhere (although Bangkok has some very interesting options).

And Serena's continually whinging about "when do I get to go?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm with Serena: "When do I get to go?" Thanks, Peter: It's been a fair treat, as my Lancashire Nana would have said.

(And if you ever want to send me something for Daily Gullet , please shoot me a PM. Yet another Canuck who can write!)

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rona says that I confuse people.

Did I say that? I don't remember, but I was probably confused at the time. :raz:

Rona's usually right.

Except for when I'm wrong!

I think a special round of applause goes out to Rona and Hiroyuki, who have been unstinting in their time and support. 

Thanks, and thanks for remembering that it's not my fault when things go wrong, even when it is!

And Serena's continually whinging about "when do I get to go?"

Yes, you must send her over while I'm still here (which means the clock is ticking!). I must prove to her that I'm not Yukari! Plus I must share some homemade yuzu caramels with her. She might like them! And some of my poundcake. I bed she's appreciate it! Humph!

Edited by prasantrin (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

And Serena's continually whinging about "when do I get to go?"

Yes, you must send her over while I'm still here (which means the clock is ticking!). I must prove to her that I'm not Yukari! Plus I must share some homemade yuzu caramels with her. She might like them! And some of my poundcake. I bed she's appreciate it! Humph!

I think the most important part will be showing her how to prepare cotton candy.

gallery_22892_5869_7953.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you very much for this very inspiring thread! I have just browsed through all the pages (14 pages!) of it. I must say that while all the kaiseki dinners you showed were impressive enough, the most memorable dinner for me is the one at Okariba.

My only tentative question will be: What was the total cost of your trip? (You don't have to answer just because I asked. :smile: )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Hiroyuki,

Looking back on the meals, I'd say the food fell into two categories.

On the one hand there are those times when I have something new (and good). That has a novelty factor, or a certain atmosphere, that counts for a lot for the moment, but you know that the second, third, fourth passes will never give you that same excitement. My first proper takoyaki at that counter top in Osaka. The yakitori in Ryugoku. The tonkatsu in Kyoto station. My first onomiyaki.

gallery_22892_5869_10963.jpg

The tuna tartare with caviar at Morimoto's. These were all good, and I would happily stop in for another round if I'm in the neighborhood, but I'm just as likely to try the place next door.

Then there's the other side. Meals that I really enjoyed, and that I would happily eat again. Okariba falls into this category. Not only was the flavour of the food memorable (in a good way), but there was a comfort to the place that just draws me. Aoki san is just such a pleasant host, and I can see him now standing patiently over his grilling boar.

gallery_22892_5869_20545.jpg

Ryugin is another that I'd be back at in a flash (DHL the leftovers, Rona!). Seiji Yamamoto is doing some really fun things, and if I could have taken another reservation while we were there, I would have. He does travel a fair bit, so I'll be keeping an eye out on the festival circuit to see if I can intercept him elsewhere in my travels.

gallery_22892_5869_1379.jpg

Beer Club Popeye! I'll be back (I'm a member, after all). The hopped sausage they did was excellent, and Scud thought very well of their baked Alaska.

gallery_22892_5869_10467.jpg

It's never fair to make lists, but it's in our nature. Those three are the ones that call to me the strongest, the places I would make regular if I was spending more time in Japan.

I seriously need more vacation time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

AMV's

During the trip Scud was spending part of his time checking out on what AMV's were coming online, and how his own were doing in the competitions.

AMV stands for anime music video, and is a subset of the fandom of anime.

Given that the Boy has two pieces that are food related - and that anime was a key point of this trip - I'll post the links here

The first taste

and

rice to finish

You'll find more of his stuff out there, but you might need earplugs for some of it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice work there! (And I've always wondered how long these video homages take to piece together)

The only jarring part is unagi don (not exactly the cheapest or homeliest meal... not anymore) representing gruel. Seems the ideal food for growing workhouse boys, especially in the summer. But I'm really nitpicking here, the clip choices and timing are excellent.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Costly?  Japan?  :raz:

Actually, I didn't find Japan "that bad" in regards to prices on the mid to high end.  This is comparing Tokyo with London, Dubai, or New York.  In discussions, in generally seems that the prices that were crazy in '97 have hung in that same area.  What was an abusively expensive city in the early 90's is now just pricey.  For example, my accommodations in Hong Kong proved more expensive than in Tokyo.

That's at the higher end.

It's at the lower end that the crunch comes.  The moment by moment stuff of a train ticket here, a cab fare there, and (most difficult to bear) the cost of a beer.  When you switch over to that "only 1,000 yen?  Just buy it!" mode, you know you've lost it.

But, outside of Tokyo, prices improve quickly.  Osaka wasn't as bad, and neither was Kyoto (although admission prices can eat away at you very quickly). 

In terms of general ease of travel, you'd have a split decision.  I found it quite simple to get around.  Give me a map and good shoes, and I'm quite content.  Scud, however, would vote to the contrary, citing hours of walking, and the inevitable getting lost trying to find an underground station.  The trains are fairly straightforward once you understand the signage and the system of expresses, limited expresses, and large cats that fly through the sky (sorry, Serena's watching Totoro and I caught that out of the corner of my eye).

Sightseeing?  If you like anime and manga, it's great!  Movies, too.  As Japanese culture is a cornerstone of our video life, the simple recognition factor that you experience walking past iconic locales is a lot of fun.  But this presupposes a certain exposure already exists.  On the historical side, it depends on how much you've read.  I'd recently finished The Imjin War, and was keen on seeing Hideyoshi's legacy in the Kansai.  And after all the translated "classics" I'd gone through at university, the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa eras all hold a certain fascination for me (and are dead dull to Scud, although he could click with some of the anime locales).

However, I'm not a big fan of temples for their own sake.  I can admire the architecture and the materials, but after four or five I start yawning.  If I want temples, I'll go back to Luang Prabang (which'll be April next year for Pimai).

gallery_22892_5869_9609.jpg

Eating?  Ah, there's the crux of the matter, and one that I'll ruminate over further.  For me, eating in Japan was very much an education.  In the West we fixate more on sushi and sashimi (hey, in Vancouver the ingredients are so good).  I'd been exposed to other elements of Japanese cooking in Thailand and Egypt, but not in an immersive sense, rather as an odd meal here or there.  This trip afforded the opportunity to explore paths that I'm just not going to find elsewhere (although Bangkok has some very interesting options).

And Serena's continually whinging about "when do I get to go?"

I'm reading Musashi so I think some of the historical things do interest me.

I have one more question: Will you adopt me? :wub:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm reading Musashi so I think some of the historical things do interest me.

I have one more question: Will you adopt me?  :wub:

Which are you reading? Kenji Tokitsu's work is excellent, and probably the only version of the Go Rin No Shyo that's worth its salt. I read that last year, and it changed a lot of my viewpoints on the traditional martial arts, fine arts, and many aspects of readings of Japanese history.

As for the adoption, you're going to have to take a number. :biggrin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

gallery_22892_5869_6858.jpg

I’d said earlier that I’d come back to the Michelin Guide. Now would be the time. Not that my views matter a lot in the scheme of things, but I did want to vent, and that’s what posting’s all about, neh?

The Red Book has been coming under a lot of flack these last few years. First there was the scandal concerning the “preallocation” of stars for certain restaurants. The expansion to NYC seemed to go fairly smooth, but the addition of Tokyo has (at least in the press) garnered more blame than fame.

The crux of the matter – picked up by the press with a certain glee – comes down to local indignation over the hubris that would lead Michelin to feel they’re qualified to rank and grade the restaurants of Tokyo.

A lot has been made of Kadowaki's "refusal" to be included, and his comments on the appropriateness of Michelin’s stars in Tokyo is perhaps the most used sound bite (can I say that with regards to print articles?), but if you poke around you can find more details on his reasoning. His was a combination of relevance, and of the market that he wanted to draw.

But in later pieces, there is a little second guessing, so it’s not as fixed a position. In the Asahi piece he considers now that the stars may have been good for him, but typically sees “good” not as a marketing tool, but how it would help his staff, raising their morale (they seemed perfect when I was there, but it's good to know owners are thinking of the staff).

But is there really an imposition of selection here? If taken as a “guide” isn’t it doing its job? Michelin has their process and procedures for evaluating restaurants and hotels, they apply this, and they post the results.

Now, bear in mind, as noted in a current thread , the format has changed from the tightly packed Red Book of years gone by.

From my viewpoint (which is sitting at my desk looking down on the book with a cup of coffee in one hand and a mouse in the other), they’ve provided me with a well packaged (okay, the spine’s a little tight) book of a convenient size that gives me fair visuals on what the restaurant looks like, and a very good map (with an external shot) to get me there. After fumbling about trying to find places with the other “tools” I had, this was a godsend.

They also provide a brief description of the restaurant, and try to highlight items that would affect my decision, which is how I chose Ryugin. They do spend a little too much of their limited text on descriptions of the décor, as opposed to the food, but that’s my take.

Oh, and I shouldn’t forget, we do get the little flip card animation of the pneumatic Mssr. Bibendum down in the bottom right!

If we consider this as a guide for visitors (which is what I am and always will be) then I’d take the position that they’ve accomplished their purpose. Isn’t their role to assess and recommend restaurants for the “motorist” who’s passing through, and wants a meal that will meet certain standards? These tastes may not correspond to those of the locals, and therein lies the issue, I believe.

So, is it really a case of Michelin “imposing” their decision upon Tokyo? Or is it rather that they’ve simply provided a set of recommendations as a service to we foreigners who bumble our way through?

The weight of reputation that Mssr. Bibendum carries is such that the matter cannot be this simple. Which, of course, takes us back to marketing.

But, if you ask me, should I have tried harder to get a copy of the guide in advance, and have planned from that? Then, yes, it would have served me well.

Next time I’ll be better prepared.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps you can help me here - don't let the post count fool you, I'm very much an egullet newbie (I just have more time on my hands than most and the enthusiasm that comes from not having been able to do much cooking or food shopping for a year).

Someone else has been thinking about this, in another forum (Flyertalk) I learnt about the Miele Guide which is now accepting votes for its guide to Asian restaurants. You need to give them the first 6 digits of your VISA card to qualify to do this.

More information here: http://www.mieleguide.com/

The guy who instigated this talks more about this scheme here: http://chubbyhubby.net/blog/?p=530

He had the same misgivings about the same list I had.

As this requires contributions from those familiar with Asian restaurants I'm not sure where the best place to put a thread inviting people to vote would be. The more discerning people who do so (and who better than an egulleteer? :smile: ) the more useful it will be for everyone. Asia is an Aladdin's cave for anyone who loves food - but it's vast, the caverns, numerous winding and intricate, the treasures magnificent and plentiful, beyond the wildest mercury fueled dreams of Qin Shi Huang Di. Another English speaking guide would be welcome. Michelin Tokyo doesn't seem to be a bad start though, they've been refining their entries for other cities, hopefully they'll do the same for this one - it has the potential to become an authoritative resource in perhaps 5-10 more editions (I doubt they nailed France on their first attempt)

Edited by MoGa (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...