Tuesday, July 18, 2006
A "Lively" Dinner
For dinner that night, we went out for the special occasion to a very traditional style Japanese restaurant. When entering the restaurant, you removed your shoes to enter one of the tatami floored dining rooms. All of the tables were low to the floor, and you knelt around the tables (I am very used to it now, since this is how we eat at home). For the holiday, there was a set menu. It is good to mention that Japanese cuisine has many, many small side dishes. First, there are always warm, damp towels to wash your hands with, and hot green tea is served. Then, individually, tiny plates of side dishes are brought out by the waitresses, who, in this restaurant, wore traditional Japanese summer robes and socks. There are TONS of plates used in serving Japanese meals, and each side dish only amounts to about 2 spoonfuls of food ( it is funny to talk in terms of spoonfuls, when you are really eating with chopsticks ). For example, the meals that we received contained, soba noodles, Japanese pickles, vinagered vegetables, fermented soybeans, soup, egg custard, soy sauce, orange slices, and rice, all served in their own tiny dishes (with the exception of the rice... it is always plentiful at the meals). The bigger portions were the tempura (fried shrimp, seafood, and vegetables), and its own dipping sauce in yet another small dish. Most everything in Japanese cuisine, as I have noticed so far (at home and at the restaurants), has been served individually for the person; not family style. There was one exception... the main course at this restaurant. This dish is what titled this post. I have already mentioned that Karatsu was famous for it's squid. Well, I was very much mistaken when I thought the conchshells I tried earlier were going to be the last exotic taste of the day. The waitress brought out a platter with 3 very, very fresh, raw squid, a Karatsu delicacy. When I say very fresh, I mean Very Fresh as in... alive! At the table, the squid's fins and tentacles were cut up right before our eyes. It was crazy! Surprisingly, I wasn't grossed out, I was in shock from amazement of what I was witnessing. I have eaten squid before, both grilled, and as sashimi (raw) here in Japan and have really enjoyed it, but I never thought I would eat it like this. To eat it you grabbed your freshly sliced wedge from the slowly writhing creature, and ate it just like sashimi: a little soysauce, wasabi and eat! It was weird, but still quite good. Talk about taking the word exotic to totally new levels! WOW! One of the squid actually turned red while we were sitting. My host father said it was angry, haha... I just can't wonder why?! After we were finished eating the raw dish, the waitress took the rest and had it tempura fried. That was very delicious, and at least a little easier to eat... it wasn't staring at you when you grabbed a bite to eat! The meal was very unique, and in a way, educational for me. Although very extreme, I was very happy that I got to experience this meal, and of course, the company of my entire host family. The pics are of me and my host father kneeling around the table, the next is the waitress in her traditional garb bringing out the seemingly endless side-dishes, and the last is the "lively" main course.