On our final night in Osaka, I was invited to join Akemi’s family for a grand kaiseki dinner at Honkogetsu. It was a magnificent meal, due in large part to the food and company, but also in some small part because I made it through the meal without fumbling anything with my chopsticks or unwittingly saying something inappropriately hilarious.
We were also joined by Akemi’s aunt and uncle, bringing our total number to eight. It was quite the dining party.
A special thanks to Akemi’s sister, Hiromi, for sending me photos and accompanying explanations of the various dishes we enjoyed. Most of the pictures I’ve posted compliments of her.
Special mention should be made of the serving dishes. This one resembles a gift box. Apparently it’s called ogento-musubi. Gento is boar in Japanese and a symbol of happiness.
Inside: persimmon, daikon, carrots, nori, shredded lobster and ebi-miso jelly.
My favorite dish of the evening (matsuba-gani no wan mono): crab (with a texture akin to pudding), sea urchin and kani miso (guts) topped with yuzu in a seasonal broth. The yuzu is sliced to resemble a matuba (pine needle).
An elegant sashimi duo of snapper and toro.
Plate: Rosanjin, Japanese artist, 1883-1959. Painter, ceramic art, calligrapher, cook, etc.
Nobody was able to offer up the name of this fish in English but it was delicious, grilled and topped with shaved white leek. It was reminiscent of a firmer, meatier seabass. According to Hiromi, it’s called kue in Japanese. The white leek is called shiraga negi. Shiragi is white hair and symbolic of long life.
Persimmon leaves give the dish a Fall feel.
Smoked scallop and oysters, deep fried gingko nuts, fresh ikura (salmon roe) with egg yolk and daikon, mushroom, tofu, mukago no natto, and sweet shrimp (ama-ebi) with “koji mold”.
Soba topped with mountain potato.
For dessert: fresh persimmon, pear and kiwi, calpico sorbet, and delightfully fizzy Mitsuya soda jelly.
Marron and millet in azuki soup.
I’m a big fan of matcha (green tea) so when Mr. Aota slid his bowl across the table, I couldn’t believe my good fortunate. “You’re not going to drink it?”I asked. As it turns out, he just wanted me to take a photo. I came THAT close to helping myself to his matcha.
An amazing meal.
For further details and more on Hiromi, head on over here to check out her blog: http://ameblo.jp/chado-kyutotsuan/. How’s your Japanese?
We woke up early to pack, check out, leave our bags with the concierge, and then meet up with Akemi’s father for a final lunch before boarding the shinkansen back to Tokyo. I had expressed an interest in ramen so Akemi’s suggested, Ippudo, a place near his office. I was feeling daring so I decided to go with the spicy tonkotsu soup. I had a choice between 3, 5, and super spicy (3 or 5 what?) and selected the latter. After all, how hot could it be? As it turned out, pretty damn hot. The endorphin rush hit me so hard I feared I would pass out. I wound up transferring my noodles to Mr. Aota’s unfinished soup base – and still could only manage to finish half of it. In retrospect, it was the wrong choice given the fact that we’d already checked out of the hotel and I had another two hours to kill before boarding a train for the two and a half hour trip back to Tokyo. As it turned out, however, I felt great and experienced no ill effects of the molten ramen.
Until about 2:00 a.m.
Thankfully, the return trip to Tokyo was uneventful. We checked back into The Imperial Hotel, relaxed, then went out for some casual Korean at –
Whew. All caught up. I leave you with a final few images of my trip to Osaka…