So far, the land of the Rising Sun has offered me a lot of culinary delights that do not rime with sushi, onigiri, yakitori, ramen or udon. I have tasted food along the gluten and meat free trail, and it has all been good.
It is true that when you travel to a place and especially when you get to eat home-made food, you realise that what you are served in restaurants does not always correspond to what could be called casual, everyday food.
In a Greek home for example, you would not very likely eat pita-gyros, tzatziki, moussaka, or mezze for lunch. You would more probably be served a vegetable dish, accompanied with fresh seasonal sallad, feta cheese and bread.
Japanese food served in restaurants, is most often a pleasure for the eyes as much as for the palate. Home-made food may be less stylish, but it remains nevertheless as much of an interesting discovery.
Japanese seem to like a hint of sweetness in their food and love pickles – my favourite is the umeboshi – and various fish-based snacks. Not to forget omni-present shoyu and its reincarnations: soy-sauce, tofu, soy-germs, nato, miso….
So, if you have tired of sushi and sashimis, this is what you may want to try….
Oden, a pot-pourri of boiled vegetables and tofu in a sauce spiced with soy and sugar.
Ojia, comfort food made of rice, vegetables and egg, topped with grated daikon.
Chawanmushi curd, steamed in a cup.
Layers of small pleasures, in an o-bento box.
Furofukidaikon; Japanese radish boiled and garnished with a special dressing.
Of course, you will want to start and finish your meal with o-cha and maybe…
try a sweet. Why not a coffee flavoured mix of adzuki beans topped with vanilla ice-cream and a dash of whipped cream?
My personal favorite until now, if I may be honest, has been a steamed vegetable sallad served with a miso-based dressing and the Japanese omelette, tamago-yaki.