Sooner or later a failure to communicate will arise, I had hoped I’d have made it beyond my second destination in Japan. I picked the restaurant because it looked interesting, it looked Japanese, it looked like a place for locals, it was!
The private room we are in is really nice, visually it’s isolated from the rest of the venue, though the paper walls do little to muffle the sound, the bar behind the wall is quite busy, giving the little secluded room a strange but delightful ambience.
The restaurant has no English menu, no images, there are no plastic samples at the door, I can’t read kanji, the basic script is completely unrecognisable, rendering me illiterate. Sooner or later this would happen, rather than give up and leave and choosing an easier place to eat, I persevered. With language an obvious barrier the waitress helped as best she could, though the menu is strange and extensive, my knowledge of Japanese cuisine limited. Drinks were easy enough to get an order placed, food? Well it’s good that I’m not fussy, between us the internet, thank goodness for google translate, we managed to order something, fish and scallops with rice.
By now I’d begun to get comfortable at the low table, mostly thanks to the sunken level under the table for my feet, and the whisky at hand. Thank goodness I don’t have to sit cross legged on the floor it would have been impossible for me to endure.
The food arrived and is cooking on the table top, it’s a portable rice cooker used in a style of eating called Kamameshi. The rice cooker cooks over a flame, the heat source underneath has been prepared with exactly the right amount of fuel to cook the rice. The smell emanating from the rice cooker is awesome, with a hint of fish, a smoky kind of essence and of course the fragrance of rice. Considering the smell of rice cooking is one of my favourite smells in the world it is unsurprising I liked the odour a lot. I am well into my second drink as the flame dies meaning that in just 5 minutes I’ll get to eat, I hope it’s worth the experience?
I know the order had been for some rice and fish, I was impressed when the Kamameshi cookers were delivered to the table and enjoyed the aroma they delivered immensely as the rice cooked. Lifting the lid released a ploom of fragrant steam into the little room, if any of the patrons behind the paper walls even noticed? I could not tell, their constant chatter having long ago melded into the background. The steamy unveiling revealed lightly adorned rice and fish, besides a light smoky flavour with the white fish and the sweetness pervading the rice under the scallops there is little else.
There is plenty of food here, but for the sake of a more complete meal I considered trying to order some vegetables. One second thought I decided against that course of action and enjoyed the delectable fishy rice. I didn’t want to subject the poor waitress to another ordering situation.