Before we left for Japan, my mother and I asked Nancy what she wanted to do. After all, it had been 39 years since she went to Japan.
She wanted to do two things: See the monkeys in Nikko and to eat.
So we ate our way through Kashiwa and Tokyo. We didn't just eat. We ATE. We ate out every day for lunch, and often at night, too. We did go to grocery stores where they mark down the cooked foods and sushi and sashimi platters as much as 50 percent. We'd take it home and that's what we ate for dinner. We never bought too much because we knew it would stay in the refrigerator, probably until we left.
Check out all the things we ate. OK, what I ate.
In fact, my mother was talking to my sisters Dorothy and Patty and she told them not to be surprised to see us when we got back. She told them that Nancy and I are coming back fat!
I don't think so. OK, maybe I gained a few pounds, but they're going away. Soon!
Early into our visit, we had sukiyaki for lunch. One of the national dishes of Japan, it's thinly sliced beef and vegetables cooked in a soy sauce-based soup.
We ate a lot of ramen because Nancy and I love it. This is a tiny restaurant (seating maybe a dozen people) called Dai Katsu. My mother, cousin Ken and sister Nancy enjoying the ramen. This particular chef floats oil on top of the dish and my sister complained bitterly ... afterward, if you know what I mean.
In this pretty little restaurant in Sugamo (the old folks' Harajuku), I had the hiyashi chuka or cold Chinese noodles.
I had ikura (salmon roe) and crab meat over rice in a restaurant at a huge mall. I can't remember the name of the mall, but it was very big. It was truly yummy!
This was what I chose at a buffet in the Ginza. It was across the street from the Takarazuka Theater and it was very elegant. The food was very good, too.
I had the wonton mein (ramen with wontons) at the China Doll. Like many Japanese restaurants, the China Doll is tiny with maybe 20 seats. It's one of my cousin Ken's favorite places to eat. And it was excellent.
I had curry udon for lunch one day. Again, it was a very good pick.
The lunch at the cemetery. My mother said it's very expensive. It doesn't look like a lot, but I couldn't eat all of it. And that's very rare for me!
We had crab one night, a gift from a friend in Hokkaido.
My cousin Hiromi (in the center) put up her hair, rolled up her sleeves and extracted all the meat from the big ke-gani (hairy crab). Her mother and my mother flanked her. We offered to help, but she insisted on doing it all.
This sushi master made our sushi in our cousin Kotoe's favorite sushi restaurant in Tsukiji.
He started out making nigiri with two different parts of tuna.
Ama-ebi (sweet shrimp), baby fish and salmon roe. It was all good!
My Aunt Mizue is a fabulous cook. She bought the ikura (salmon roe) on the right and made the one on the left. She bought the roe in its "raw" form and "cooked" it in soy sauce and a little mirin (rice wine vinegar). And she put it in front of me because she knows how much I love ikura. I love that woman!
One night, Ken-chan took us to have okonomiyaki. You take veggies and meat or seafood and cook it on a griddle with a kind of thin pancake batter. Nancy cooked the okonomiyaki for the first time in her life and did a great job. I grilled the thin slices of pork. Yeah, I did all the hard work.
My favorite kind of ramen -- wonton mein -- at Tokyo Ramen. Another tiny place, but this one is in the middle of nowhere. Yet, it's always packed. It's that good.
Dinner at Hiromi's house. She's quite a good cook, too. Just like her mother.
It seems every time I looked at Nancy during a meal, she was smiling! She's eating udon, a soup with thick noodles, veggies, tempera shrimp and other little tidbits.
I had the udon with cold dipping sauce and tempera.
Once again, I had the ikura don (a bowl of rice topped with salmon roe and small dried fish) at a restaurant on Eno Shima (Eno Island).
I told you I loved ramen. This was in a rest stop under the Yokohama Bay Bridge. It was quite good.
I don't know why the Japanese go to McDonald's or Burger King. They have a chain called Mos Burger. Here, you've got the classic Mos Burger on the right, the chili dog on the top and onion rings. It's very, very good.
I had the rice burger with kakiyaki (tempera of mixed veggies and shrimp), french fries and onion rings.
This is a owl of tanuki soba. On top of the bowl of soup is the crumblies that come from tempera.
I had curry rice and cold soba noodles. Again, it was very, very good.
At a tiny little izakaya (bar) owned by a mother and daughter, the food was excellent. I had the shoga yaki (pork with ginger). Nancy and I thought about opening up such a place in Columbus. But then again, we thought it would be too much trouble!
We ate dinner at Ken-chan's house the last night we spent in Japan. He had sushi delievered. My sister and brother both told her to make sure we get food delivered at least one night. Last year, we had meals delivered several times. You can see that the food comes in fancy lacquered dishes. You don't even have to wash the dishes. You leave them outside and the company that delivered it picks them up the next morning!
For some reason, it seems like there's a Denny's on every street corner. It just doesn't seem that there were that many of them last year. They just cropped up in the last 15 months. When I found out that the pancakes are called "mini" pancakes, they meant mini . Ken-chan ordered me more! And check out the salad on the main plate. My mother and sister got the Japanese breakfast of rice, miso soup and natto (fermented soy beans), with eggs, bacon and salad.