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18th September 2016

The Japan Review

”It was yakitori, a long open flame grill, the soaring fire reflected in the beads of sweat that adorned the grillmans forehead like a crown. Fred said he looked like Charles Bronson”

Caught a train to Kanazawa up on the coast. Went to dinner at this cheap neighborhood, served by the oldest waitress in Asia. She could have been 100. When she watched TV she stood maybe 15cm from the screen, blind as a two bats, but she still killed it though. Had a katsu curry, looked a bit iffy but was hearty. Katsu curry is famous in Kanazawa, or so said our host at the guesthouse. Had prawn tempura on the side, good crunch, lovely batter. Fish market tomorrow. The perks of being by the sea.

Two outstanding meals today.

Walked around the samurai district in the morning, worked up an appetite, went to this big indoor fish and general market, a few meat stalls, a few veg plus intermittent restaurants. They were more or less all serving rice bowls with sashimi on top. We chose one with a little queue and wrote our names on this waiting list. Shown to counter table.

Finally got that tuna I’ve been searching for, it’s all I’ve wanted to eat since being here. It was like having the harshest most tongue wrenching thirst finally quenched. I paid maybe £16 and got a generous bowl. The tuna was arranged in a subtle spectrum of fat content going from pink to a deeper red, like a magical fishy rainbow. Started on one side and worked towards that lean goodness, I felt drunk after the last few bites, so good, wasabi dabbing little soy bath, just letting it dip its toes in the sauce.

That meal was also about the little things, like it had the best miso soup of the trip so far, developing my understanding and taste for miso, it’s kind of incomparable, and I’ve only come to it later in life. The tray also came with what we considered to be pudding, a little rectangle of green jelly, maybe lime.

Dinner. We were going to go this ramen craft beer place that I had spotted, sat down and one beer was ¥1000. I’m always sheepish about walking in and straight out of a place but in a pinch, sometimes, gotta do it. Fred led the charge. Walked back up the street. How do you window shop a restaurant? The one we chose was full so we had to wait, it was yakitori, a long open flame grill, the soaring fire reflected in the beads of sweat that adorned the grillmans forehead like a crown. Fred said he looked like Charles Bronson. Asahi in those tall frothy glasses being chinked with fervour. It was definitely one of those ‘we’ve arrived’ inklings.

Sat down and got shown this insane menu with pictures, translations and pronunciations of the Japanese for the dishes. We had warmed up a little now with our language skills, Fred shouts across the bar, ‘SUMASEN!!’ (excuse me) Old lady screams back, ‘HAI!!!’ (yes) Freddie stands on the counter and roars, ‘HARAMI O ONEGAI SHIMASU!!!!’ (pork diaphragm please) old lady picks up a megaphone, blue in the face, and bellows back ‘HAI!!!!’ (yep). we had like six different sticks, hen chicken, tender chicken with spring onion, diaphragm, beef cutlet fried in batter, pork chitterlings, and pork tripe, which was probably the winner for me. All washed down with three beers and fried rice balls, for ballast.

Such a good meal. Great staff, when we walked out they all shout thank you and goodnight. Its a nice touch that, when the people working in the restaurant loudly greet you as you go into and leave a restaurant. It makes a nice change from slinking silently into restaurants in England and trying to catch the waiter’s eye.

Ended up in a bar called Night Spot singing karaoke with some locals. Chatted to some old ladies at the bar. Was charged extortionately for whisky.

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