One of my favorite aspects of traveling to far-away places is the opportunity to broaden my palate a bit, trying something that I could probably never replicate in my own kitchen. It's those singular culinary experiences that had me steadily swooning in Japan. Here's a mere taste of my adventures in good eats...
After touring Yokohama's Kotokuin Temple and Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, a lunch of Buddhist cuisine or shojin ryori seemed most appropriate. I'm not sure if the custom has anything to do with Buddhist belief but, as an aperitif, we were served a small serving of plum wine in a ceramic cup. The arrangements of seasonal veggies and soy protein appeared modest, but packed a myriad of flavors in almost every bite.
If you love sushi, Tokyo will smile upon you. I snapped this photo of my "dessert" course at the ninja-themed, contemporary restaurant, Ninja. Not only did I have sushi for dessert, that morning I also had it for breakfast at the Tsukiji Fish Market.
Prior to having matcha or green tea during a Japanese tea ceremony, it is common to receive a plate of sugary sweets to offset the bitterness of the tea. These adorable cubes tasted pretty much like pure sugar, but with a red bean filling. Look closely and you can make out an intricate design of the three-story pagoda in Sankeien Park.
Tempura is another staple for the first-time visitor to Japan. It comes in most bento lunches, and some restaurants, such as Sansada in Asakusa, serve nothing but tempura entrees.
Soft serve ice cream of all flavors, such as green tea, plum blossom and vanilla are found in most high-traffic tourist destinations in the Kanto region. Depending on the prefecture’s most popular agricultural crop, you could be walking around with a cone of wasabi-, sweet potato- or soy sauce-flavored ice cream while admiring the sites.
I was really taken a back with the general presentation of food in Japan. Here, we unwrapped our three-level Kabuki bento box at Chiyofuku restaurant in the nostalgic and rather lovely city of Sawara.