All this happened, more or less...

My name is G and these are the true stories of my adventures.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oishii no Tabemono

Making Nabe

Mmm, nabe party!

"Oishii" is one of my favorite Japanese words. No matter where in the world I'm living or loitering, I spend a lot of time eating, so being able to say "delicious!" is useful for approximately 75% of my waking life. Combine that with the fact that simply adding "jenai" makes it "not delicious", and I'm good to go.

That being said, the ichiban oishii of all Japanese food really is the sushi. Now I know that sounds like a cop-out answer and you were hoping for something more exciting, but hear me out. There are lots of amazing, astounding, surprising, and incredible foods in Japan. Anything with "yaki" in it is a good bet -- yakitori, yakiniku, yakisoba, takoyaki, and if you're in kansai, okonomiyaki. You can eat all kinds of things alive or nearly alive, including a wide variety of fish and even octopus (see photo below). If you can't eat it alive, you can at least eat it "nama", which means "raw". (Be warned: sometimes they're sneaky and translate this as "fresh".) I've eaten raw things that most people wouldn't even eat cooked. Among the more impressive are sea urchin -- a salty, creamy muck that you spoon right out of the shell -- and horse sashimi, which didn't taste different from any red meat but was a little hard to deal with psychologically. Kind of how I imagine eating a golden retriever would make me feel. And then there are the simply bizaare combinations of foods that on their own would be normal. I once had an omelet stuffed with noodles and soy sauce, for example. Yeah, an omelet.


Dom attempts to swallow a piece of "dancing octopus" -- that is, a tentacle that is still mostly alive and therefore desperately clinging to his tongue and making a titanic effort to climb back out of his mouth.

So there are endless culinary adventures to be had, but I don't miss any of those as much as I miss the sushi.

"But G," you say reasonably, "you can get sushi here at home too."

O reader, it's just not the same. If you go to a decent Japanese restaurant or hibachi grill, you can certainly find good sushi in the States, fresh and only slightly overpriced. Unforunately, if you live in Nowhereville, as I do, you'll have to drive at least forty minutes to get to such a restaurant. In order to justify all that driving, you have to make it into a night on the town, so you add a little sake, hit up a bar or two, do a little dancing... before you know it, an innocent craving for sushi has cost you $200 and a hangover.

One of my favourite things to do when I lived in Yamashina was to pop into the 7-eleven with AJ after work and pick up some sushi. We'd take it home, curl up in front of the Mac, and watch "Spaced" while we munched on our spicy tuna rolls. I also made a habit of running into the Saty for sushi on my lunch break at work. Almost every day. The sushi from Saty was somewhat nicer than the convenie variety and hence more expensive, but it was also fresher (especially since I knew what time each day they put fresh batches on the shelf and went to pick it up accordingly).

In short, I developed quite an addiction to that raw fish and sticky rice combo, an addiction that cannot be sated by a once-in-a-blue-moon trip to a sushi restaurant. If I do ever move back to Japan, this will be one of the top three reasons.


The noodle omelet -- because you didn't believe me.


J said...

i'm sorry... did you just say you ate HORSE?

G said...

Uh, yep. Raw horse.