The week that I went to Japan, half of it were spent in 東京 Tokyo, and another half were spent in 福岛 Fukushima. I’m sure you have read the news about the nuclear plant disaster. Yup, that happened in the Fukushima prefecture. The place that I was visiting is Fukushima city, about 100 kilometers away from the sealed off heavy radiation zone. Although we were given the all clear by various travel and health related departments, this was actually a trip that no one really wanted to make. I was the lucky one to be chosen.
It didn’t feel particularly dangerous to be there when I arrived. The air felt clean and fresh. In fact, I was able to breath easier in Fukushima than I was able to in Tokyo. It’s been a year now and I still don’t feel any strange things happening to me, so hopefully this means everything is cool.
Anyway, let’s get back to talking about food. In Tokyo, all our meals we have to pay ourselves. I mean, we have to pay using the company’s money. But when we traveled to Fukushima, we had a translator/guide from our host company with us, so all our meals were free.
Unlike in Tokyo, the hotel in Fukushima provides free breakfast, buffet style. It is a Japanese-Western fusion. We get miso soup, steamed mackerel alongside bacon and croissant, and many other stuff.
That white bowl of things at the bottom of the picture, it is called the Fukushima Special Potato Stew. I’m not fibbing on you, it was printed on the description card on the tray holding these bowls. There’s a mixture of potatoes, daikon (radish), carrots, taro (yam) balls and another thing that I could not identify. And that glass of red drink is called Acerola. According to the description card on the jug, it is an Indian cherry blossom drink. I have no idea why we are drinking Indian sakura drink when we are in Japan. Sakura is cherry blossom, right? 🙄
We were actually visiting a factory in Fukushima, so we had lunch in the factory’s cafeteria. It was a rather interesting affair, at least to me. We get to choose from two different sets of bento (meal box), each with different types of food to really provide us with a balanced diet. The Japanese really take their food health quite seriously.
And there is no special room or special luxury bento for the managers and directors. Everyone eats in the cafeteria and everyone gets the same bento choices. I’m not sure if it is only this particular factory or if it is the norm in Japan, but it is something that really makes me respect Japanese management people.
We spent two nights in Fukushima. One of the nights, we had dinner at a tempura specialty restaurant. I was going to order one of those tempura sets, but then I noticed that they had a seasonal special item on the menu. So I ordered that instead.
I can’t remember the full name of this dish. Aomori something-something buta teishoku. Some Aomori pork set meal. Aomori 青森 is a seaside city on the north tip of Honshu island (main island of Japan) by the way.
The second dinner was a lavish one. The host translator/guide insisted to treat us to a full Japanese meal to celebrate the success of our visit. This meal, I think the story is best told by relating to you the actual words that the host said throughout the meal.
Host: Before we start eating, we must have a beer. Japanese culture.
After the beer,
Host: We must have another beer to go with the appetizer.
So we had another beer. And a Japan specialty appetizer. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the 纳豆 natto.
It is basically fermented beans. I suspect it is the same raw ingredient used to make those 臭豆腐 stinking tofu. The beans were wrapped in beancurd skins and served with a dollop of mustard. None of them did anything to help tamper down the natto’s taste. We each had a piece of that. Unlike stinking tofu, this one doesn’t really stink from afar, but the taste is… well, I would just say that it is an acquired taste.
Two beers down, natto down, and when the waitress was serving us the main courses,
Host: Is this you guys first time to Japan? Then you must try The Yamazaki. Very special Japanese drink.
One of the main courses was a sashimi moriawase platter. Sashimi = raw fish/seafood slices, moriawase = mix of everything.
Host: The bowl in the middle, that is the best part. It is Before Egg.
Yeah, fish embryos, before they officially turned into eggs… I can’t really remember how it tasted..
When we were finished with the food, most of us were already rather tipsy. As we were getting ready to leave,
Host: Okay we are done with food. Now is time for serious drinks.
What the… so what the hell were all those beers and Yamazaki just now?
Host: Let’s have the Kaku Single Rock. It is a good drink for the singles. And tonight we are all singles.
And then the next thing I knew, it was morning in my hotel room…
Nah, just kidding, LOL! 😀 .. I was drunk, but not that drunk. But I do think that Japanese men are crazy when it comes to drinking, especially when they are using their company’s money. Or maybe it was just our host. He used to work with companies in Bangkok, the UK and Sweden (and who knows anywhere else that he did not tell us), so he is not exactly a typical Japanese salaryman..