My host family brought me out to a teppanyaki dinner tonight. Koike-san drove us there (because it was raining) and I realised that the back seat of their car also has a small television set for Jun-kun to watch his shows. I vaguely feel like he's being a bit spoiled by his parents, since he's the only child and all, but I shouldn't be passing judgement on other cultures.
Outside the restaurant, I noticed another of Japan's innovations: the umbrella stables. Many places don't let you bring your dripping umbrella onto their premises, and so while some places have an umbrella rack or stand, the ones catering to a larger crowd often have umbrella stables, which is basically a rack with locks, so you can chain your umbrella to it and know for sure that you'll be getting it back later.
|Aww, it's like a little umbrella prison.|
Teppanyaki is basically a hot plate, where you can cook your own food on. Normally there's a teppanyaki chef who will dual-wield his spatula things and serve up really good food; this restaurant was a do-it-yourself style. With the menu completely in Japanese, I let the Koikes decide what to order.
Our first dish was squid, which you sear on the plate and then dip into a sauce apparently made of the squid's insides. I'm not really sure, but that's what I understood. Everything was placed on the hot plate to sizzle deliciously.
|You'll get so much more out of this picture once they invent audio graphics - oh wait video.|
Next came a large steak, which was singed splendidly. Dipped into shoyu soy sauce with a bit of wasabi, it was heavenly.
|Mad cow disease never tasted so good.|
I've tried okonomiyaki before, but Yuka-san said we can have it again; there was also a dish called monjayaki, which is slightly similar but the liquid batter the ingredients are cooked in is slightly more liquid and runny. When cooked, it looks very much like char kway teow, with the cabbage strips looking like the kway teow noodles. Depending on how you like it, you can leave it on the grill longer so the batter cooks more and becomes extra-crispy.
The okonomiyaki came later, which was excellent as well. I don't understand why the Chinese never discovered a better way to eat plain, boring cabbage; I barely remembered I was eating a vegetable that I didn't really like anyway.
Yuka-san ordered another okonomiyaki variant; this one was mochi rectangles, which you arranged in a ring on the pan, before pouring a thick batter into the centre, and top it off with two strips of bacon and a generous sprinkle of cheese. If that sentence had no effect on you, then you are not human.
|The obligatory Japan Hour shot.|
To top it all off, we ordered a frozen ice dessert to share. It's a bit like ice kachang, but with frozen milk instead of ice, and none of the annoying ingredients underneath. I shared a double-chocolate with Koike-san, and ended up finishing most of it.
|I wanted to lick the bowl, but my conscience stopped me.|
If only all my meals in Japan were this good. Oh wait, they are.