Three's The Charm

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I'm not an expert on fancy hotels. I don't know what is now routine, but one thing that seems to be constant is the mysterious clear spot in the bathroom mirror just over the sink. Everything is foggy except an oval just where your face should appear when you're shaving. I'm now in Osaka, which is different in it's turn from Tokyo and Kyoto. These mirrors are the same in each city. I don't understand this technology.

It's hard to believe that we are already at the end of our visit to Japan.Here in Osaka we found another lovely restaurant called Imai. It's a shop that specializes in udon and soba noodles, mostly in elaborate soups. Our guide had recommended it. It's a narrow, unobtrusive store front on Dotonbori Street, a sort of crazy food court near the port. You are squeezed into a tiny elevator and taken to tiny dining rooms on the second floor. My lunch arrived in a sizzling hot pottery bowl. The broth was still boiling when I lifted the top. A raw egg floated on top. It is well known that I don't much like eggs, but I always eat whatever is put in front of me. I whisked the egg into the broth with my chop sticks to create an egg drop soup effect. This was a delicious lunch. The broth had just the right amount of both salt and fat. In it were vegetables, mushrooms, pork skins and fish paste cakes. And of course wonderful udon noodles. Fabulous plain restaurant number three. That evening we discovered that Imai had opened a small branch in the basement of our hotel. This time my soup contained a seared, sliced duck breast. That made two duck breast dinners in a row.

Japan was not at all what I had expected. It looks very much like the United States, only spotless. The people dress like us as well, There doesn't appear to be anyone who is either poor or overweight. It is very easy to be a visitor there even if you don't speak a word of the language. People are polite and friendly. One last anecdote: Inexplicably, across from my hotel in Kyoto was an Irish pub. I couldn't resist checking it out. The bartender was an Irishman by way of Montreal. We chatted on and off as he worked. Another customer had bought him a shot and he turned to me and asked "can we toast the results of your election?" Then came a what-if-he's-a-Republican look on his face. I thanked him and raised my glass. "To Senator Obama" he said. Everyone at the bar, mostly Japanese, all strangers, turned our way, raised their glasses and loudly toasted "Obama!"

The recipe link is ready at last. It can be accessed from the homepage of the website. In a day or two, when I get settled again, I'll begin posting requested recipes.

posted by Bill Smith at 2:38 AM


Blogger carolinavictory said...

Hi Bill, I'm enjoying reading about your trip. Love the toast to Obama! I'm so overjoyed about the election. Hope to see you soon and safe travels, Anne A.

November 19, 2008 9:59 AM  
Blogger Dish-Man said...

Amazing..You Sir, are quite an inspiration to me. - Randy W. Charlotte,NC

January 30, 2009 1:26 PM  

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