The final meal

I’ve had a wonderful time exploring parts of Japan, although I feel like I could travel in this fascinating country for a little longer here I know after 6 weeks that it’s time to go. I am genuinely sad to be leaving, but I am also fully resolute in my desire to return here and wish to keep something in reserve for my next visit.

I’ve been lucky to experience such great food, I’ve enjoyed convenience store nikuman and onigri, interesting breakfasts, compelling and charred yakiniku and many things on sticks in yakitori and izikaya restaurants. I’ve had fascinating new meal experience to compliment the new fascinating places I enjoyed visiting.

My last meal in Japan was in an airport, and it was so much better that I ever expected from an airport restaurant. To be fair this last meal would have been a noteworthy meal in any restaurant, let alone an airport venue.

The menu options at Haneda airport publicly accessible restaurant area read like Japan’s greatest culinary hits. As I read the menus and summed up my opportunities I wondered if the restaurants aim at making outgoing Japanese homesick for great food before they leave. For me it was a list of conquests from this, my most recent culinary escapade, yet more surprisingly this final meal became an opportunity to try something new, a dish I am amazed I had not tried before.

P1110257The boiled dumpling hot pot set was a substantial size, in addition to the enormous still boiling cauldron of dumpling and vegetable laden soup, I had to contend with a black vinegar dipping sauce for the slippery dumplings, a collection of vegetable pickles, Japanese style egg, some rice and salad. The still boiling liquor made starting the meal a little difficult, sure I could theoretically take the dumplings from the soup with my chopsticks and allow them to cool in the dipping liquor. In practise… I think I did quite well keeping the dumplings within my dining space, considering the boiled dumplings are made from glutinous rice, one of the slipperiest substances imaginable. Knowing full well P1110259these dumplings would be obscenely hot inside I slurped at the soup and went vegetable fishing in the meantime, the chicken stock based soup rich with soy and mirin was delicious, the vegetables still crisp and coated in the tasty liquor. Once I was able to bit into a dumplings the rich pork and prawn filling was delicious indeed with hints of ginger and onion. The sides playing their role well, keeping my palate clean and compelled by the meal.

P1110253My partners seafood tempura don was a kakiage don, a tempura fried seafood fritter served on rice rather than individual tempura pieces she had imagined. This set also included Japanese egg, pickles and miso soup. This meal was one of the few occasions that she was able to eat quicker than me, as her delicious meal was a much more tolerable heat much sooner than mine. The crisp tempura batter coating, squid, prawn, scallop and onion, light in texture and not greasy at all and had a lovely taste, with hints of ginger and a little sesame too.

My only wish for this final dining experience for Japan was that it would have been on the inside of the security perimeter, after enjoying this meal for a little too long the ensuing security clearance was a little harried. Sure I had time, but I must confess that I was relieved to have made the boarding with some time to spare. I have a long flight ahead of me.