Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Eating Well in Japan

Guests on my tours in Japan often comment on the variety and quality of the food. Americans who are experienced only with Japanese restaurants here are surprised at what you can find. For one thing, although Japan is a relatively small country, there are major differences between, say, Kanazawa, Osaka, and Tokyo cuisine. For another thing, restaurants tend to specialize, so you get sushi and sashimi in a sushi restaurant, katsu in a dozen varieties in a pork restaurant, an enormous variety of beef dishes in a beef restaurant, etc. The Wall Street Journal has a fine article about eating in Osaka, not a city many American tourists would think of as a culinary mecca.

One dish and type of restaurant I've never seen here in the States (although I know they exist; I just looked up several via Google) is okonomiyaki, which is an "as-you-like-it" pancake that contains the customer's favorite vegetables and other ingredients, fried on a hot plate, and served with spice sauces. Friends took us to an okonomiyaki restaurant in Tokyo's Asakusa district where we cooked on the table right in front of us. Friends also took us to what they said was Hiroshima's best okonomiyaki restaurant in Hiroshima where the cooks prepare the pancake (and where we took the picture above). I am in no position to say whether it was Hiroshima's best, but I can say it was wonderful.

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