Toe Kyo Whoa Oh. Goh (bye bye).
I typically require 7-10 hours or so of sleep to recuperate post-show; before a hellish flight lasting anywhere from 6-20-30 hours – I can pull it all off with like 4 or so hours; Japan – I don’t care how much I sleep as long as I eat a lot.
Waking up early once again, for my final meal in Japan – I collected Nick, Paolo and myself, and headed back to the alley ways of kindly-hollering Japanese women and mystery stalls with delicious meat-smells pouring out. We did a few passes of the mini-restaurant stalls, cruisin’ that shit like creepers – and decided to go with the spot with the giant pot brewing meat-stew.
The ceilings were low, the restaurant insanely small and absent of anything in English, it smelled of grilling meat and beer and business men smoking their cigarettes… this was heaven if only for an hour. The three of us took our spots, ordered some beers and began the “pointing ordering”.
A pickled salad of daikon radish greeted us first (a dish my mom makes a lot) – texturally imagine an almost-cooked potato – sweet and soy-tasting. Some more pickled “stuff” came about (not sure what it was… seemed to be a root or potato) that was a terrific starter. This place was jam-packed in bric-a-brac ala sake and birru and patrons – the cooking area was slightly depressed down into the ground, the counters that surrounded were where you stuff your face.
I required a heaping bowl of whatever that medieval pot was cooking up: Nikomi. Stomach soup. So freakin’ fantastic. No, stomach ain’t creepy… stomach is good. No. Offal isn’t gross… it’s for the true lovers of food. It’s hailed as the “good stuff” by chefs worldwide; Bourdain and Zimmern are always stoked on some organ meat. Nikomi is a very traditional soup in Japan – not unlike the concept of Menudo in Mexico – it’s mainly stomach, a few other fun digestive bits, cooked for hours ion hours in a broth with veggies. It’s a hang-over elixir to boot (I think). Sweet, spicy, tender, delicious. I faintly was reminded of the best Bloody Mary ever… but with stomach and Japanese flavors. Best I can do for a taste guide, friends.
My “main” was the “special” set of yaki-tori. Ah – the simplicity of Japanese food; the delicate-nature of everything in Japanese food. Just some meat (or organs), skewered, lightly basted in the appropriate sauce, grilled to perfection, basted, eaten. Vegetarians. Vegans. Ya’ll are missing out. Yaki-tori is something that ought to be enjoyed by all mammals possessing canine-incisors – that chicken heart wasn’t going to become mayor, that beef tongue wasn’t learning Portuguese. But naturally – I applaud your convictions, I drink your meat-shake… up.
A final pint of Japanese beer, (another) final Matcha Frapp… it was off to Narita. Leaving Japan is like leaving your pet, your wife, your girlfriend, your mother… it hurts… and if it don’t hurt – I don’t wanna know that soulless, shadow of a human being you may be.