Anyone who has ever told you that the reason that Japanese people are so thin is that they eat less than westerners do is a complete and utter liar. Attention liars, and you know who you are, understand that I have sat behind you while you are on dates, in airplanes, at pompous American sushi restaurants and I really have heard it all. It needs to stop.
There are several components to their over all lifestyle and genetic makeup that allow them to remain slender and youthful until a very young age. True, they do eat a higher grade of meats and produce and typically have a much more active day to day life but this does not entirely explain how they are able to consume such massive quantities.
Sadly, the all knowing Wikipedia has very little detail on Washoku so the link I have provided to their article is quite minimal. There are tremendous differences in regions and even prefectures regarding the over all menu, you must also account for the seasons, but the process and length is nothing short of tremendous and my huge American stomach has been filled beyond capacity at more than one of these occasions.
Whilst in Nagasaki, and included in the cost of staying at our lavish yet peculiar hotel, we were served a multi-course traditional style Japanese meal that consisted of several small dishes served in various sequence each one following the ending of another. What you see before you is the beginning of this ingest-endurance trial. Some Delicious specialty Nigiri: Tai, Cuddle fish and Uni in the box in the little dish near the bottom left corner is are some vegetables garnishing a nice plump raw scallop which is dipped in the Yuzu Miso sauce in the yellow dish. Finally that is some super tender Japanese beef that is ready to be cooked.
This neat little contraption has a bad of butter on the inside and a full lump of sterno ready to be fired up for some on the fly grilling. Along with the beef there are some other vegetables, namely White Onions, Green Peppers and Egg Plant. As the vegetables stew in the juice of the beef fat and butter the aromas become nearly irresistible but entirely worth waiting for them to cool down.
Oh yeah, Sushi Boat. What better way to present the bounty of the sea than on a little wooden boat? These slices of Salmon and Tai are garnished with Shredded Daikon, Carrots and Shiso, which is the green leafy thing that is a totally edible garnish and will reappear again in another form during this review. The best way to describe Shiso, to me, is to think of it as a giant piece of parsley.
A quick note to Green Peace and the Sea Shepherds, you all need to try Whale Bacon! You think that you are really doing some good by trying to stop me from enjoying one of the most delicious forms of one of the most delicious mammals on the planet? I really think that a bite or two of whale bacon would really open their eyes to a whole new world. Being that this stuff is terribly expensive its nice to see it in the line up. Its got a crunchier or firmer texture than its pork cousins, but the oils in the meat are so salty and wonderful it really is a shame I can only eat it once a year.
Yay! Fried course, little Cuddle fish little more Shiso. Vegi and Meat variety tempura is always tasty. The light batter and rich oil are such an interesting pairing that you may find yourself sucking it all up before you realize what you have done.
Sea Snail Gratin was a new one for me, not only in Japan but in general. I have to say that you couldn’t really taste the little sucker cause he was covered in butter cheese and cream. Not that I am really complaining because it was absolutely fabulous. The other fun part about eating this one was that with every carefully removed spoonful of delicious goo there seemed to flow more from within the shell. A crustacean gratin fountain if you will.
The desert course consisted of this charming little flan style custard dish with a coffee gelatin on top and the nice fruit for a palette cleanser. It was really nice and light but the coffee component, like most coffee I have had in Japan, is really light not as much of a stage personality as I would like/prefer.
Not pictured was a hot soup that came from a dashi base with some Tofu in it. Sorry…
Not too surprisingly I limped back to my room, muy pants entirely unbuttoned and my swollen mid-section attempting to direct me to the floor at every turn. This was an impossible amount of food. I couldn’t finish all of the dishes. It was ambitious to try none the less and as many times as I have been able to experience this sort of activity, I am still amazed by the seemingly unending stream of small plates arriving at the table. Upon first glance this mountain appears to be a molehill but it is quite the green scaled sleeping giant that keeps my barf bag on standby from time to time. How do the Japanese do it? They are born with two stomaches.
Thanks for reading.
Zach “the close to puking eater”
Cheers to you!