Sunday, May 23, 2010

Japan: Kochi Part 2

The city center of Kochi was a shopping district with pedestrian covered walkways.  There were farmers market selling beautiful fresh fruits, vegetables, and fresh fish.  In the center of everything were several closely packed restaurants and izakaya.  Many of them looked like this one in the picture, boasting local breweries and fresh seafood.

We did not meet anyone who spoke English in Kochi, and most writings were in hiragana, which I can't read.  We couldn't read the menu and the waitress couldn't speak English.  What did we do? We ordered everything on the chalkboard from right to left, and alcohol from left to right.  From the content of the dishes, we then tried to match the text on the board and try to figure out other dishes using these characters.  Dennis ordered katsuo tataki immediately.  Of course they had it.

This restaurants had absolutely the best sashimi we ever had.  The fish were fresh, delicate, and flavourful.  We didn't quite know what we were eating, but they were good and beautifully plated. Maybe you can help us identify them.  I also had raw octopus and horse sashimi.  After so much hype, horse sashimi was unimpressive.  It was tough and gamey.  I think I accidentally ate whale, but we wouldn't know.  I did not appreciate the fish (in the photo below) until I learned to filet fish myself later.  It was a perfectly fillet fish: clean, paper thin, and intact, showing off the skill of their chefs.  Next to us were 3 businessmen eating lightly and drinking heavily. They look over at us and gave us an approving node.  Good job finding this gem of a restaurant, they seemed to say.

I loved their alcohol list.  All the nihonju (saki) was listed and ranked according to their sweetness, acidity, and bodiness.  For example, a +13 sweetness was the sweetest and -13 was the driest.  Our favourites were all in the medium-dry range around -8 with moderate acidity and body.  (We should do this for wine list. This was so informative.) This one (photo right) in particular was so good that we decided to try to buy a couple before we leave the city.

I don't remember how much the meal cost, but it was worth every penny.  Dennis and I would fly back to Japan just to eat here.  This is definitely one of the best restaurant ever been to in the world.  Too bad I was too drunk to recall much of it.  All I can remember was uncomfortable seat and amazing food.

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