July 14, 2004

Oookay, where was I...?

Y'ever had Japanese food? I refuse to call it "cuisine". Cuisine is a French word and only the French have cuisine. There's no "Japanese cuisine" or "Italian cuisine", m'kay?

Anywho, some people love it and some people hate it. I'm willing to like it but I haven't had anything Japanese so far that I've liked that didn't end with the word "teriyaki."

There's a Japanese resteraunt called East in the strip-mall where my print shop is located. They must be a football field away from me, but they keep their dumpster about 100 feet from my back door. Why? Because it reeks.
It's full of fish tails and fish guts and roly poly fish heads and on a hot and humid day it'll stink up the entire back parking lot.

The owner of the neighborhood Chinese take-out place asked me "Who owns that dumpster; Hometown Buffet?"
"No, that's Japanese East."
"O-o-o-h, Japane-e-e-ese..."
he said with dirision. (I've always had the sneaking suspicion that every Asian who isn't Japanese hates the Japanese.)

I remember once reading somewhere that the imigrants that came through Ellis Island in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had to be fed in groups based on their nationalities because they wouldn't trust each other's "cuisine." F'rinstance: German imigrants would be confused and disgusted by spaghetti and would refuse to eat it.
I don't remember the name of what I ordered during my first visit to a resteraunt six years ago, but it almost made me feel like I was dining on frickin' Rigel IV.
Okay, it was just some seafood, but it was food from a sea that I'd never eaten out of before. You couldn't identify the pieces as part of any creature -- though some had tentacles so it was some kind of octopus or squid or something. Some pieces were tender and some were kinda rubbery. All of it was weird.

What the heck is miso soup? It's a briny sodium bisque that tastes like Long Island Sound, that's what. Why would anyone sip on a bowl of this crud?!

Okay, it's interesting to look at. It had some kind of... of... of... cloudy particular substance that - when the soup is at rest - kind of looks like a sponge sitting in broth. When you stir it up the "sponge" disolves in the broth and it's just a homogenous murky mess. Then the soup settles and the illusion of the sponge reappears!

The first time I visited the resteraunt was about six years ago and it was the first time I'd ever heard of miso soup. There was a table of a party of 5 or 6 who were placing their orders with the waitress. The waitress had a Japanese accent and I'd heard her trying to figure out the miso soup orders.

"Miso soup for you, but not for you...oh, no, miso soup for you, so...3 miso soup..."

I kept hearing her voice saying "miso soup... miso soup..." over and over and all I could think of was "Me so ho-o-o-rny... Me so ho-o-orny... Twenny dolla love you long time!" It was all I could do not to bust out laughing while the poor girl got the order straight.

Anywho, the food was okay, but hardly worth the price. It's not like a Chinese joint where you can get a big lunch for $4.25. If you want to do lunch at this place you'd better be prepared to shell out fifteen bucks. I'm curious but not curious enough to make Japanese East a regular visit.

And can someone identify for me that green gingermint paste that they keep glopping onto the side of whatever I order? A drop of that on your tongue and you start to wonder if it was invented for American diners in retaliation for Hiroshima. What IS that stuff?!

Posted by Tuning Spork at July 14, 2004 09:44 PM

Strange, my mother cooked Japanese food all the time because that was what our family could afford. To this day I am befuddled by overpriced Japanese restaurants. And from her I learned to be observant, since she almost never looked at a recipe. Once I learned the basics, I branched out into American, European, and other Asian cooking. About the only objection to Japanese food is that it may have stunted my growth, but otherwise it tastes fine to me.

That green paste you saw is called wasabi, which consists of Japanese horseradish, Chinese powdered mustard, and usually green food coloring.

Posted by: Bloodthirsty Warmonger at July 15, 2004 08:49 AM

Thou hath taken the name of one of my favorite restaurants in vain.

In point of fact, I lunched there only yesterday. Being low on cash I skipped my usual Sushi/Sashimi lunch combo and went with the two sushi rolls and a salad special for $9.

I am resisting the temptation to forward your post to a few of my coworkers because I cannot be certain that would not place your life in danger!

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at July 15, 2004 02:33 PM

Oh! So THAT'S wasabi! Thanks, BW! I guess I'm supposed to use it as a spread, eh? I dunno, that's pretty potent stuff...

Stephen, I must be ordering the wrong items, then. I've eaten there only three or four times in the past six years and for, all I know, ordered the same thing every time. Most of the items on the menu have Japanese names and I have no idea what they are. What are your favorites? Maybe I'll try some tomorrow.

I will say this, though: I've also eaten several times at Yoshida, another Japanese restaurant in Milford, and have been very pleased with everything I've ever had there -- especially the teriyaki salmon.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at July 15, 2004 07:57 PM

If you're not into sushi one my favorites at East when I'm not having uncooked fish is called Slat & Pepper String Beans. It's salty, its spicy, but there is no Wasabi!

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at July 16, 2004 10:33 AM

I like wasabi. One, I like spicy things. Two, I loved the Wasabi-Was up? Bud commercial they did in the Japanese restaurant. Remember that commercial?

Posted by: Random Penseur at July 18, 2004 06:28 AM

Yep, I remember it well. I like spicy things, too, as evidenced by the cherry pepper pizza I just inhaled!!

Posted by: Tuning Spork at July 18, 2004 09:29 AM
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