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Tasting Japan


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15 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

Great stuff, as (almost*) ever.


I'm wondering. You showed one English language menu. Is it common or not for places to have English menus? It's been 25 years since I was in Japan and there were none then, that I remember.


*You know what I am referring to! One lapse in judgement I can take! 😁 😁

I think a lot of places had English menus, I didn’t always photograph them. Perhaps in our 14 days  x 2 or 3 meals a day we were without an English menu maybe 7 or 8 times. Kinda made it more fun.

Sorry again for the 🌽.

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In Takayama we enjoyed a traditional kasakei meal served in our room. 



There’s so much going on here, I can’t begin to explain. First the charming lady sets out the pieces.



No English to explain, but we figure it out






All exquisite little bites.

Then the elderly owner of the guest house gives us a box of biscuits (German, but hey)



And we retire to a warm onsen, bliss.



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Did you do sake tasting at different breweries?

I had a nice time in pretty Takayama. Did you visit the village in Shirarawa-go? Takayama is all about Hida beef and sake. Would go back for both.


There are any sake tasting rooms if you want to test your liver's limit. I had barely scratched the surface in 3 days.



At one of the most popular beef restaurants in town. There's always a queue there so prepare to wait.



Almost 50 euros for the above plate.



Rural Japan



Buckwheat rows in the foreground. Most people grow fruits, vegs, even rice around their houses. Very typical in rural Japan.



Kaiseki meals served at traditional inns are incredible and so beautifully presented. One of the highlights of eating in Japan. Mine came with a menu of courses served in this particular order. The food just kept coming and coming. 


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@BonVivant yes we did sake tasting in two places. Didn’t get to Shirikawa-go, my motto is always save something for next time :) We did try the hida beef too, (even though I try not to eat animals these days which was difficult in Japan).

Lovely photos.



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Breakfast at our Ryokan onsen was almost as special as dinner.



There’s a flame under this beef.



Onwards through beautifully coloured countryside to Kyoto.



And these little treats, an egg batter filled with shrimp and fried in kinda mini muffin pans. Served with soup and Mitsuba.



A modern day isakaya, four tables with room for say 24 at a pinch. Note the coat hangers for your jacket.



Happy owner who made us very welcome 



Some gratuitous supermarket shots, round the corner and open 24 hours.




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On a day trip to Nara we were accompanied by swarms of school kids who were incredibly orderly. The weather was perfect, the sightseeing impressive, the food delicious and the deer friendly. 





You could have coffee with an owl (or a pussy cat). 

We didn’t do it, seems exploitative, but I did ask for a photo for my owl crazy niece.




Lunch at a busy restaurant. The crab cake here was superb. Grilled king mushrooms, chicken teriyaki, a bowl of soup and a small plate of dressed vegetables each.




Manhole covers are often works of art.






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  • 2 weeks later...

A bit late, but thank you so much for this! I'll probably never make it to Japan, but reading your descriptions and seeing your photos are a good substitute for now!

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  • 3 weeks later...

But wait, there’s more ! 

We spent 5 nights in Kyoto, a charming city which is definitely on the return list. 

This local isakaya specialises in okonomiyaki, or Japanese pizza as the owner laughingly referred to it. I want one of these giant grills !




We we had a little chicken to start...



Then the okonomiyaki itself, topped with dancing shaved bonito.



The outside of isakaya were easy to spot with the red lanterns signalling “open”. That didn’t always mean we’d get a seat.



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The market in Kyoto was larger and even more crowded than Kanazawa, with many more foreign tourists ignoring the “Do not eat and walk”. You are supposed to eat whatever you bought, at the stall you bought it from, even if that means standing in a tight space. We returned to this market more than once. 

Tasty things on sticks





Pickled everything (taken before I noticed the no photos sign, apologised profusely, accepted gracefully).




There are hundreds of restaurants within the market precinct.

We chose this one, udon noodles with tempura prawns for me



Chicken with noodles and leeks for him



On a subsequent visit fried bean curd 



Someone got to try a fresh sea urchin, $20 well spent, you can taste the ozone.



Matcha ice cream, love this.


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Literally 20 meters around the corner from our hotel was a bar called Bond. I kid you not.

It’s a standing bar, no seats, just small tables to lean against with very fresh and tasty snacks. It became our regular, being such a handy spot to stop for a cleansing ale after a long day touring around. We got stuck here a few times.

Shared sashimi platter



Tempura whitebait and cant remember vegetable.



Tempura prawn, squid and pickled ginger



In my best Scottish brogue....Bond, bar Bond.




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  • 4 months later...



So the lovely people at EG posted my Tasting Sri Lanka report on Facebook today. That prompted me to revisit it, and realise that these food reports are a great way to relive my trip. Never did finish Japan....so here goes.


This isikaya was literally on the corner of our hotels street, less than 20 meters away. 

Grilled on a hibachi - quail eggs, shiitake mushrooms with daikon, roasted garlic and some fried chicken.








We stayed in Kyoto for 5 nights, it was good to get to know our hood. 

This place had an open mic night for local musicians. 



And pretty good ramen.




I had a number of items on my “must try” list. One was yakiniku where you grill your own food, although we sat at the bar where a genial waiter did it for us. This place was recommended by hotel reception, who weren’t to know I try to avoid meat. The only thing on the menu was beef, admittedly every part of the cow, stomach, heart, testicles ALL of it. Oh well. We did enjoy it (guilty face) but had to politely decline an invitation to return with some other people we’d met at our hotel.


The sides were great and that looks like a glass of white wine rather than sake.



Not organ meat. Note big blob of fat to grease the griddle.


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Kyoto station is incredible. Apart from the efficient trains, there’s an eleven level mall attached selling anything you could want to buy, countless eateries, a train museum and brilliant people watching. 


We found Ramen Street (floor 10 I think) where you pay for your selection of dishes at a vending machine outside the restaurant. They’re very easy to use, have an English option and someone available to help if needed. This particular ramen restaurant uses a recipe from the northern part of Japan with a cold climate. Fascinating to read and follow the printed instructions. Mark had pork, mine was vegetarian.





The instructions.



Interior, small but carefully crafted. A small basket is provided under the table for your handbag, shopping, camera etc.



Looking down towards the banks of escalators which descend in a straight line to ground level.



While travelling down and looking up - the roof.



Kyoto is a fascinating city.


We didn’t need these potsticker dumplings, but they were there !


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Our last day in Japan is a long transit one. We take a bus to Osaka airport, to fly to Narita, where, with several hours to spare we grab a train to Narita town, then return for a quick bite and last minute shopping before our 8 hour overnight flight home. 


There was still food to tick off the list...

At Kyoto airport a sushi train where you ordered via iPad on your table, or took a plate off the conveyor.



Finally some eel and okay we’d had lots of sashimi, more the better.






In a little local bar in Narita town there was Japanese curry on the menu. OMG, we hadn’t had one of those ! Fixed.



Typical really, this last quick bite at Narita airport was the worst meal of the trip. A bit of tempura and udon noodle soup. 

Lucky I had snacks for the flight.



That’s a wrap for Japan ! 

Such an amazing country, cool people, fantastic food, interesting architecture and culture. I’m sure we’ll return.



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If you have never seen a Japanese train station from above...

Arrived in the evening and got only a couple of hours of sleep on my first night so I had a lot of time to make photos.


Osaka main train station at sunrise:



From breakfast room on the top floor. Elevated roads between buildings.



Fancy or expensive food never satisfies me. The simplest meals do. First udon soup on my first evening in Japan remains a great all-time favourite.



I hope to see a smoking ban in a near future, only then will Japan take its number one spot on my list.

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On 11/9/2019 at 6:02 PM, BonVivant said:

I hope to see a smoking ban in a near future, only then will Japan take its number one spot on my list.



With you on that. Some streets in Gion district  ban smoking, not only in restaurants, but everywhere including on the street. It is slowly changing. Very slowly.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.


The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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