Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Day 2 - The best meal EVER!

It’s funny how much you forget about relatives until you see them again. My Uncle Mimichan is my mother’s youngest brother. Behind his seemingly gruff exterior lies one of the most generous people I know. Over the years, I had forgotten some of his more charming personality traits, including walking incredibly fast (so fast that my mom had to jog to keep up) and knowing trivia about every place we see. For example, while we were rushing around the city, my uncle told us this building was a restaurant where a prime minister died. Good to know!

Seven years ago, my uncle took my mom, my sister Yumi and I to a little sashimi restaurant that I kept claiming “has ruined me for sushi in the States FOREVER!” He was kind enough to take us all back there for one of the most amazing meals of our lives.

My uncle has been going to this restaurant for 30 years. It’s down a little alley right near the fish market and he said this is where the fish buyers go to eat sashimi. It’s definitely not fancy by any means, and feels like someone’s home. The goal is just serving the freshest, most amazing fish you can find. This is not a place where tourists ever go; in fact, most Tokyoites find out about this place by knowing someone who knows someone… we’ve heard that tune before, right?

The walls are covered with paper signs with what fish they have available. Once they run out, they take down the sign. Of course, my uncle being in the know, he ordered things that weren’t even posted up.

Uncle Mimichan wrote down what he thought we’d enjoy – he picked seasonal items that we could never get in the states.

Waiting for the feast to begin.

The closest we got to a picture with Uncle Mimichan.

So Rob and Huay tried to take photos of every dish we got, but sometimes we either started to eat or they just forgot. Add beer and sake to the equation and you just get a bunch of hungry forgetful people. And I can’t remember the name of every fish so I’ll just describe the highlights.

Each plate had about 8 pieces of sashimi, so don’t think we just got 2 or 3 – we would grab and eat before the photos were shot.

This is shimesabe, mackerel pickled in vinegar – one of my favorites!

These were the biggest oysters any of us had every seen – can you see my hands for scale? They were so delicious – tasted of the ocean.

These are fresh sardines – sardines spoil very quickly so it’s rare to eat them as sashimi – so amazingly tasty!

One of the highlights of the meal – monkfish liver, served with a miso-vinegar sauce. Before you think, “Yuck!”, it is an absolute amazing experience to eat. Smooth, buttery, rich, and oh-so-tasty. I had two pieces.

A shellfish that my mom didn’t know the translation for – on the plate were the raw pieces, and in the shell were pieces cooked in broth. Inside, there were two pieces of innards that were a crazy green color.

As I ate my piece, I said it was something you would eat on Survivor. It was bitter, but not totally unpleasant. Rob and Huay finally tried it, because when else would we get a chance to eat something that color that wasn’t a vegetable?

We ended the meal with tempura – eel and two different white fish.

There were some items I know we forgot to take photos of – tuna head, which is the most most most tasty part of the fish, and a hearty soup with burdock root, carrots, mountain potatoes, and fish meatballs. I loved the soup and ate lots of it. We also had two vegetable dishes, lima beans that were the size of a quarter and the freshest bamboo shoots ever.

In the end, there was nothing left to do but unbuckle our belts and moan either in pain or contentment.

Going to the market in the morning and eating the same fish that night was something we that we never thought we’d do. This was a once in a lifetime experience for all of us – eating amazing fish with an amazing host. As Rob said, it was a honor to have such a dinner. Thank you Uncle Mimichan – you rock!


yumi said...

You brought back good memories. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed looking at it. And Mimichan walking fast...oh, those memories, too. hee hee

Anonymous said...

Your willingness to eat such (at least to me) exotic vittles is so impressive (especially you, Rob! we were brought up on pasta, and franks & beans!!). Way to get the most out of your trip!


MinaG said...

Wow, talk about a feast! I would have loved to try the oysters, as well as the monkfish liver! Good job, Uncle Mimichan!

Kirsten said...

Looks like you've been having a great time - thanks for sharing your trip photos with us!