Monday, September 14, 2015

Tokyo: Navigating the restaurants

DSC05042 (1400x884)Growing up, my mother always taught that we be willing to try any dish once.  The lesson has served me well throughout my travels, from chicken throats in Taiwan to ox tongue in the UK, kidney in Paris, haring in Arnhem, and snake blood in China.  If the local folks enjoy it, I’m sure I will too.

Selecting a restaurant in Japan is easier than most places, because plastic replicas of the main dishes being served are displayed in front of each establishment.

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Aside: If you are a connoisseur of the art of plastic food, there’s a section of Tokyo (Kappabashi-dori towards the northeast) that specializes in restaurant supplies and, especially, plastic foods.

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Yes, I went.  The showrooms of Niimi are worth the trip just to find small bowls and vases to take home as gifts.

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Once you find an appealing display, queue up for the restaurant and you will be given a menu. I pretty much followed pictures matching the examples.  Give the order to the hostess, and you’ll be offered a seat inside (and given a place to store your shoulder bag), followed by condiments, weak beer or strong tea.

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The food was uniformly excellent everywhere I went: fresh, well prepared and seasoned, nicely presented.  My fingers are not adept at chopsticks any more, but folks were polite about giving me western utensils if I asked.

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At the conclusion of the meal, take the check to the front counter and pay.  Cash and cards are placed in the tray, not handed to the cashier, change and receipts will be handed back in the same fashion.

DSC04977 (1400x934)As with most things, it’s a matter of taking yiour courage to try, watching what everyone else is doing, and staying flexible and apart from Western scripts.

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