Feb Photo 27 – Something I Ate
For our last night in Hiroshima, and also Japan, we decided to go out for a banquet meal at a small local restaurant. Finding the restaurant was not an easy task, as all of the signage is in Japanese (funny about that, huh?) but after about 15 minutes of walking around the back streets, we found this lovely place that partly resembled a house, but luckily was a restaurant. We found a waitress who was able to work out through the language barrier that we wanted a meal for two, and took us to a quaint little table for two.
We were shown a menu, all in Japanese, and she proceeded to describe each dish in a mixture of English, Japanese, charades and even a drawing or two. There were 5 courses, plus dessert and drinks.
The courses were as follows (using my photographs of the evening as a guide).
Course #1: A small salad with raw beef (sashimi) that was simply delicious; almost melting on my tongue.
Course #2: A green salad / omelette, cooked at our table on a small stone-based flame.
Course #3: As shown above, a raw fish (sashimi) served whole on a bec of green salad. The middle of the fish is cut, prepared and served on the plate with the fish remains, showing how fresh it all is.
Course #4: Stuffed eggplant with tofu.
Course #5: Deep-fried eel, served whole, head included, with middle section sliced and prepared for eating.
Course #6: A vegetable soup, possibly Miso, veeery hot!
Course #7: Kiwifruit and Mango served fresh
And of course, a whole bottle of Sake to wash it all down with…
We both crossed many culinary limits that we had currently had, including eating raw beef, eel in any form, and this was my first experience with drinking Sake. I am glad that we did try these foods though, as they were simply amazing, and definitely not what I had expected them to be.
Our waitress was one of the nicest, loveliest and most polite waitresses I have ever come across, taking the time to explain what each dish was when I asked (by pointing to the menu) and again when each dish was brought to the table. I can assure you, the charades of “omelette” is not an easy task to undertake, especially when describing it to someone who has little/no clue of the language being spoken. Always serving with a big smile on her face, often laughing politely at times, like when we first saw the eel staring at us from the plate… but never laughing in a rude manner.
The best part, the 7-courses and bottle of Sake came to a grand total of $3,000Y, which translated at the time, to around $38AU. I challenge you to find a better deal in any restaurant here in Australia.
This level of politeness was almost the norm when we were travelling throughout Japan, striking up conversations with various people on trains, streetcars or simply at landmarks. Most were fascinated by Australians, almost as much as we were fascinated with just being in Japan. We had a group of people who had overheard us talking to each other on a ferry to Miyajima, and, although barely able to speak any English, managed to ask “Australia? You Australia?” I replied “Yes, we are from Australia”. They spoke excitedly amongst themselves for a while, then they caught my attention again, saying “Sid-en-ey? You Sid-en-ey?” I replied with “No, we are from Melbourne”, but they already had their camera and phone out, showing us photos of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. I think I had one photo of Melbourne on my camera, so showed them that, and they were amazed at that too… then they asked “Honeymoon? You on Honeymoon?” We laughed, and said no, simply enjoying a holiday to Japan. They giggled, but seemed content with the response.
There were many instances of people simply talking to us on transport or in the streets, which is a rarity in Melbourne, and unheard of the week before in New York City. Everyone we encountered in Japan was always so eager to please, always completely professional and courteous, and always gave 100% of their skill set to us, as if we were the only customers that they had all week, even when in a crowded store.
The banquet we had on our last night in Hiroshima will be remembered as one of our last in Japan, and also for being such a wonderful meal for so many different reasons. We have tried to match the meal at various Japanese restaurants here in Melbourne, but nothing comes close to the original.
Oh, and if any of you are thinking of dropping past Hiroshima and want a good feed, here is the google map info for this lovely Restaurant!