[Ben Sez] After a whirlwind three weeks, Ben et Nate have officially left Japan and are now in Busan, SoKo working their way through the rest of the orient, and to make things interesting they don't speak a word of any of the local languages. In celebration of this momentous occasion we figured it would be prudent to wrap up our experience in Japan.
The short version: The food is great, the fish and produce are better than most of what can be found in America, they have things which are illegal in other countries, there are tons of Japanese people everywhere, and they like to stare at you just for being white. Although it is a completely different story in SoKo (that's South Korea for all you cats not hip to Nate's lingo.)
[The long version (it's REALLY LONG.. seriously.. if you don't have several hours at your disposal you might want to come back later)
[Nate Sez] Wrapping up Japan is somewhat impossible. For those of you crazy enough to have read my harrowing tales of screwheaded French guys throwing knives at me, meeting the 2006 World Chef of the Year, having said Frenchman lose his freaking poisson and go apeshit on the foriegn population of Tokyo - you have an idea of the madness that has ensued.
But if you must read of the tales, you can do so here:
December 28th (knives, so many knives!)
New Year (or is it vintage?)
HOWEVER, this is a food blog, and so we must get down to business.
#1: Yaki-imo - Stone Roasted Japanese Sweet Potato.
I've gone on ad-nauseum to probably many of you about this perfect food. It is my childhood. When I would get off of the school bus an old lady would always give me half a yakiimo. It's not easy to describe as there is a flavor unique to the Satsuma imo (ther potato variety) however when correctly prepared it is moist, piping hot, slightly sweet, deeply satisfying, and the skin has a really nice crisp texture and deep stone flavor. You have to eat it to believe it. Ben practically lost his pants. He also tried the best version of it that I'd found this time in Japan. They have fallen out of popularity as the younger crowd likes western food and McFuckingDonald's.
#2: Soba - Buckweat noodles in a seasoned dashi broth. Served with everything from green onions, to seaweed, tempura anything, raw egg, poached egg, and mostly you shoving it down your hungry broke throat. Served mostly hot, but also can be Zaru Soba which is served cold with a strong but thin soy/dashi for dipping
Anyone who has had Soba in Minnesota, mostly even the States, has not really had the real thing. The real deal is freaking cheap. It's where you go when you need to scrape. It's on every damn corner of Tokyo. You go there when you've been drinking all night with Aussies and you're famished. You go there when nothing else is open. It's about 3 bucks max for the standard noodles, broth, and onions. One can actually survive on Soba alone, and I did for like two weeks when I first moved into Sakura House and was hemorrhaging Yen faster than a salary man downs a bowl of insert noodles here. I only hope to make it all properly for you someday. It's not transcendental, it's just the most comforting thing when your cold, drunk, and alone. Or really just plain famished.
So there is a loooot to write about. And I'm not finished. You'll hear back from us when the next installment comes flying out my fingers at these ridiculously cheap internet BONGS (yes, 'bong' is 'room' in Korean).
-Ben et Nate
Next: Sushi and The Conbini (that's convenience store in Japanese)
Coming Soon: Ramen, Okonomiyaki/Takoyaki, Nabe/Shabushabu, High Class Japanese Dining in General, Ryu-Gin: When yuou're willing to empty your bank account for the best meal of your life, and maybe some other shit - there's a lot to eat in Japan.