Motoko and I decided to take a cooking class with her friends Reiko and Izumi at a restaurant in Kyoto. We met up a little early and walked around looking at the different shops bidding our time before our appointment.
We made it over to the restaurant and were greeted by the kind owner who provided the recipes and instructions for us along with a cup of tea and a snack. I politely listened and tried to discern what she was saying by watching everybody’s reactions and what page they were on for the instructions. Reading Kanji is next to impossible for me and Hiragana I was finally getting a working knowledge of. I was a clay puppy following these four women around the kitchen. A very humbling but interesting experience seeing the workings of a traditional Japanese restaurant, as well as getting to see Motoko interact with her friends she hadn’t seen in
over a year, since they had visited us in Philly. We made a main shared dish of Shumai. A soup with fish cakes and lemon grass, along with a bowl of bamboo shoots and seaweed, and the third dish being the flower Rape Seed. What!? We know rape seed as the edible flower Canola, as in Canola oil. Sounds a lot better, huh? I learned that the bamboo shoots absolutely have to be harvested in the morning or else they’ve already grown to large and hardy to be edible within a few hours. Omoshiroi, desu ne (interesting, isn’t it). That was one of my favorite dishes as it has a mellow earthy taste, and its presentation almost inspired me to make mountains out of mashed potatoes next time I cook some. Everywhere I ate, even if it was McDonald’s (The teriyaki burger isn’t bad and the egg on hamburger was good) was concerned with presentation of food. Yes, I gained about 10lbs during our stay there, but to be fair I recently quit smoking too.
After we ate it was off to walk around some more and burn energy before the next meal. Oh I was looking forward to eating again! Everything tasted so good. And at the next restaurant we cooked soy-milk into tofu at the table! Along with that it was another opportunity to try out some of Japan’s tasty alcoholic beverages. Thank you public transportation!!! Japanese Dui’s come with an automatic 100,000 yen fine, about $10,000, and automatic jail time. Only Yakuza have the money, time, and irreverence to deal with one of those.
At the restaurant finally! We had walked enough to build up an appetite and seen enough Washi shops to fill our brains with origami, now it was time to dine. Again.
After dinner we walked around the shopping district while it closed down. Its essentially a main road in the city that is cut off to most anything but pedestrians and bikes that has been vaulted for all weather shopping. Maybe it was the rice wine but I found the banners hanging from the covering amusing.
Well it was another good day and we were off to catch the train for home again.