Monday, 9 May 2011

Nagoya Ryori

A visit to Nagoya is a chance to get down and dirty with the infamous Tebasaki, local fried chicken wings. Make an effort to go to Furaibo (above), the place that locals flock to.

Seasoned in soy sauce, sake, mirin, ginger, salt, pepper and a sprinkle of sesame seeds, a serving of six wings is barely enough to whet the appetite. Only calorie counts would hold you back, if you are thinking about cutting the fat.

A simple but tasty grilled aubergine smothered in miso is a savoury delight. The firm texture of the Japanese eggplant lends to the grilling process leaving it crisp rather than limp.

The aftermath. A pile of bones reveal our shameful (but not regrettable) satisfaction.

Where Malaysians would gladly avoid a 4-person queue (for anything other than real estate perhaps), the Japanese patiently wait for hours in line for their favourite foods.

Having his meal before him, this metrosexual samurai has studied the traditional procedures involved in approaching Hitsumabushi, barbecued unagi (eel) rice or unadon. The main dish is divided into 4 quarters. The first quarter is ladled into a small rice bowl and eaten in this unadulterated form. The unagi is prepared by initial roasting then coated with sweet soya sauce, a speciality of the region, and grilled again.

The second serving, mixed with accompanying chopped spring onions, wasabi and shredded nori (sea weed) encourage the flavours to pop. The third quarter is ceremoniously drenched in dashi (ubiquitous Japanese kelp or fish stock) tea and slurped up till the bowl is clean.

The best is saved for last. The final serving is for you to savour in your favourite style. I love the Japanese mind for thinking this up. Sensual, philosophical and thoroughly human. If you're wondering whether equal amounts of unagi land up in each quarter, they thought that out too. To ensure this, unagi is cut into 1 cm pieces, rather than served as a whole in the usual unadon. Brilliant!

Kishimen is the local flat wheat noodle with a lot of bounce. With a choice of clear soup stock for the less adventurous,
to tangy vinegary cold noodles for hot summers,
to savoury miso gravy catering to the local romance with miso, it is a popular snack found in malls, stalls and festival areas.

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