(The Trivs eatin’ Yasui)
Toe Kyo Whoa Oh. Sahn.
Amazingly, it was still the arrival day. Pretty much instantly when we finished dinner, we walked to another dinner. That’s how I do it in my home-land – if I’m there for only a few 24-hour chunks… I am going to eat that town like Godzilla. I think in that 1.5-2 day time frame, I consumed somewhere are 30 or 40 different dishes… probably guzzled down a gallon or two of Japanese beer to boot. I do not **** around when it comes to my food in Japan.
Koji is someone who I consider a dear friend. I don’t often get to see him or chat and such due to being on polar opposite ends of the earth – but when we’re together, we’re on the same brain waves. This dude even came to my engagement party in Florida when I first got engaged to Ashley. With Koji, I have eaten some of the greatest meals of my life… I have stayed out later with that dude than anyone I know… I’ve done headstands in rock clubs at 5:50am with him… we’ve eaten some insane shit too. Koji and I are cut from the same cloth: two dudes who put family and friends above all else… then food in second place… then metal and music in a not-too-distant third place.
We rounded up Corey, Nick, Paolo, myself, Koji and a few other Roadrunner/Warner Japan folks and wandered to find a spot for dinner. We all agreed that this are was a little trickier than our normal haunt… but Koji had a plan as always.
Koji took us to a spot called Tekke Tekke. The name is supposed to be the literal sound that a chicken makes when it walks – Tekke Tekke pretty much mainly focuses on doing dishes made of chicken. When we first came in, we saw several people crowded around one of those little private booths: passed out business man.
The Japanese work hard. Japanese people are probably some of the hardest workers on the planet. They get up early as hell… commute pretty far distances… work and work and work – till they (sometimes literally) collapse. My mom made a joke on my first visit to Japan, when I was astonished how almost everyone in Japan smokes… “A cigarette is the only break we get on a work day.” I commend the Japanese too for their work and party-duality-effort. They work their frickin’ asses off… then get bombed as all-holy-hell – then show up to work the next day whether hung over or not and deliver 110%. Ol’ oh-gee-chan here probably hit the work week a little hard. Thankfully for his impending hangover – it was Friday.
Cabbage and miso dip came up first. Miso dip is a semi-thick viscous sauce that makes a true Ramen into a miso Ramen. This two ingredient little starter was so damn good for being just cabbage and fermented soy bean paste… insane. Suntory? Yes please. The super-crunchy sweet beans were better than any late night bar food could be; the spicy fish egg and radish salad with Japanese mayo (Japanese mayo is another thing of beauty… crushes even Amsterdam’s kebab-shop chip mayo… and that is saying a lot) – fantastic.
Chicken skin and onions in some kind of sauce came up – not unlike delicious pork rinds; Japanese wings came up next with black pepper and spice – fuckin’ groovy (to quote Cassidy from Preacher). Karage is something you need to order if you’re in a legit Japanese place with Japanese cooks. It’s boneless, fried chicken. Salty, crispy, greasy – drizzle some lemon on and fall in love. Any time I am somewhere legit that his Karage, and I’m with beginner-Sushi level friends, this is always a favorite.
We had chicken breast, chicken yaki-tori (with all sorts of offal-good parts), fish fins (with sweet Japanese mayo) – these guys were chewy and crispy – Corey hated it, I loved it. Clams with wasabi, ebi mayo (Koji’s favorite dish in Japan), minced chicken in salt, cheese with mayo… then chicken ham. Yes, chicken ham. It was like any other terrine I’ve had – only with chicken – salty… good… similar to a really soft pork-ham.
And then… the cameras came out.
A challenge. Gete-mono. You may have heard me mention before that I will try anything that is actually eaten by a culture. You may have heard me ask many-a-time to get some gete-mono. Gete-mono translates to “ugly food.” It is Japan’s offal… only usually far more intense than America’s offal. Out came a brick… in wrapped paper – I thought they were busting out a couple kilos of heroine or something… nope. Bugs. Biblical plague bugs. Locust. Yasui. I, for most of my life have been somewhat… terrified… of bugs. Not snakes or bears or the unknown… little bugs.
Lemme tell ya somethin’ toss enough of those little sugary/salty/crispy bar-snack-esque buddies down your gullet – and you’ll become a fan of bugs. This stuff was good. Pretty darn good. I couldn’t believe it.
The locust were chased with some delicate, sweet almond tofus with fruit and a hot ocha. Wanna talk best tea on earth? Wanna guess my answer?
With enough locust in my gut to make my own miniature Jeff Goldblum… we were off to bed. Finally.
(to be continued…)