Monday, November 23, 2009

I've been away now, but now I've come back home. A week in Japan with many culinary delights. Unfortunately I don't the name of most of them. We were lucky enough to go with friends who lived in Japan and knew places and we just followed and enjoyed. Here's what I remember. In Tokyo we had donburi from the restaurant that supposedly invented it in the late 18th century-- Tamahide! Fresh and delicious with only about 5 versions on the menu and only open for lunch. Great home-made noodles are to be had at Sanuki served with tasty appetizers like smoked tiny sardines and tofu salad. We went to the Tsujuki Market and had really incredible sushi at Daiwa at 6:30 in the morning with beer. I learned beer goes great with sushi. Our last dinner was at a wonderful kaiseki restaurant near Rappongi, Nanao. The first course of chawan (egg custard) with fish sperm sac was divine and each course after nicely balanced. The woman owner/chef was one of the first in Tokyo and has been in business 25 years.
In Kamakura, we had a delicous soba with tempura lunch at Nakamura-an. In Nara, we had terrific okonomiyaki, a new favorite dish, at Okaru. A homey pancake-omelet filled with seafood or assorted meat and vegetables is made on a tabletop griddle. In Kyoto, we had a nice meal in a private room at Mame-cha in the Gion district where we stayed in a lovely, small ryokan, Uemura. Mrs. Uemura serves a fantastic American or Japanese breakfast. We had lunch in Ryoan-Ji temple at a tofu restaurant, Yudofu Seigenin, beautiful setting, pure food.
Other food highlights were a great fish cake from the Kyoto market, roasted gingko nuts and chestnuts, yakatori, lots of miso soup. But I'm not wild about sitting on a tatami mat while eating-- so uncomfortable. At one restaurant we asked if they had chairs and they were so insulted, they turned us away. We also learned to love saki and the nice induced drunken state.

And now, back to home territory. A lovely day today to go to Half Moon Bay where I found myself returning to Mezzalune. Their Mezzalune Salad with home-made focaccia and a glass of wine makes a perfect lunch and I always find myself ordering it. Their pastas are nice too, but for $8.50, you get very fresh greens topped with lots of just cooked and cooled calamari, shrimp, salmon, and a scallop. A perfect seaside lunch.
I was very excited to take a walk around San Jose State and spot a Korean taco truck on 10th near San Carlos. They're the rage in LA. I had just bought a good lengua burrito from the old stand-by, Super Taqueria, but I knew I had to return to the truck and try it. So I did and got a bulgogi taco and one spicy chicken taco, each $2. Bulgogi BBQ has a sign that says 2 tacos for $4 (duh) or 3 for $5. They were both OK, no Wow factor and nothing to make me think what a great combination Korean and Mexican food make. The truck kitchen is very clean. They also serve burritos and burgers for $5. I enjoyed my lengua burrito more.