Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Reason Why We Travel

For me, the most exciting aspect of traveling is eating. Sure, I can have Japanese food in Los Angeles, but there is always something exciting about having it prepared at its origins. When we're in foreign land, either we seek the must-have, or the "authentic." Where the locals eat isn't always the same places the guide books tell you. Luckily we had an insider here that took us off the beaten path. (Not to say we stayed off the trail the whole time, Lonely Planet must know a little something, right?) Here's a few places we've tried and another one I'll explain later.

It looks like Japanese places like to specialize. (no Cheesecake Factory-ish places here.) We were able to find a restaurant that served only eel. If you look at that thing alive, it's kinda gross, but when cooked, there is nothing better than its fatty, sweet flesh. As a bonus, our meal came with a broth flavored innard of the eel, along with the eel kidneys and liver. All this for 900 Yen. This was the lunch special popular with all the salarymen.

Along the specialization route was a beautiful restaurant that served crab every which way you can imagine. 7 courses of crab. It was in a regular office building, but when you walk in, it's like you're transported to Japan of long, long ago. (Except, thankfully, the tatami had cut out floors so your legs could actually stretch. They served crab by tempura, soup, grill... and even sashimi. The service was as good as any place I've tried for more than double the price.

It's late and I'm sleepy but let me touch briefly on the last place I'll mention. (And explain later.) I walk into a small room to verify our blood type. An automatic door slides open. The nurse appears. She quickly diagnosis a mental illness in our group then quickly handcuffs me and whisks us away to our concrete cell. She slams the bars shut with only a single light to illuminate our cell...