A Spring Spread

つかさ Restaurant, Spring 2011

Spring is here and with it comes many ‘spring things’. The Sakura cherry blossom of course and its ‘Hanami’ parties, but along with that comes spring themed Ikebana class at school, spring decorations in the train stations, spring clothes in the shops, flower designs on the beer cans, blossom leaves in the onsens… spring theme is what it is all about right now. The food in the shops changes, vegatables come in and out of fashion along with the season. Its more the price of the vieegies that changes as opposed to the actual veggies, as far as I can recall this doesn’t really happen in Ireland. But it very much happens here.  The food in the shops in turn changes the food on the menus, the restaurants serve flourishingly flowery pretty beauty bites.

Pate #1

 

Plate #2

It wouldn’t be a change of season without a ritual season themed Japanese dinner with Atsushi San. We returned to つかさ (Tsukasa) and enjoyed dinner with no heater blasting and the evening sun stretching through the blinds.

Atsushi requested a small traditional room so that I could see and understand the real size of a Japanese tea room. Of course you would usually sit on the floor in these rooms but restaurants are becoming more westernized (and less painful) and have introduced tables to some of their rooms.  Atsushi San says he wouldn’t want me struggling with the floor sittng buisness…and he also dislikes it, so we get a lovely  big ol table with lots of room for leg stretching. BUT…putting a table in this tiny room made it seem even tinnier, along with the tiny door frame I pretty much felt like Alice in her wonderland bursting out of that house. Atsushi was obviously expecting my giantness because the very first thing was to take a photo of me beside the door…thankfully I’m not giant sesnsitive.

Giant Hannah Sensei

We enjoyed some fantastic dishes from starter through to dessert (plate number 7) and shamefully I was so wrapped up with the room I forgot to snap each one, but take my word they were beautiful and delicious as always.

Not an inch of ‘Shirako’ in sight, I do believe that is now out of season but I will not curse myself and say farewell to it until I am on that plane home, its haunting, still.

The starter was a mix of fishmash stuff, a few slimy looking odd bits but small enough to swallow without thinking too much, it tasted very good. We had ‘Tai’ fish, this is known as a celebration fish and is a sign of glory and happiness. It is very popular for weddings and was served to us to celebrate the coming of spring. Atsushi San showed me what you to when you receive this fish if you are a winner of a big competition and he looked exactly like this photo!

Glory of the 'Tai Plate

 The sushi dish was very unusually decorative, lots of seasame and pink. The most unusual was the wrapper of salt that accompanied it, you unwrap the shiny pink stuff and dip the seasame tempura into the sour green salt. It tasted like lemon salt. Who knows though, could very much not be lemon salt.The sashimi plate was lovely and light, not too much of anything which was nice. I am getting a tad worried about my consumption of raw tuna, the mercury you consume from the tuna never leaves your body and is supposedly pretty damaging for your kid making organs. The tuna fish being high up in the food chain means its mercury levels are fairly intense…Iv eaten a fair ol load of raw tuna but not to worry once I leave Japan I can start a tuna drought…maybe.

Sushi and Tempura Plate

 

Fancy Lemon Green Salt

 

Sashimi Plate

For dessert we enjoyed ‘Guihe’ and everytime I asked what ‘Guihe’ was I was answered ‘Guihe’, so yea no clue coudln’t even find anything online. It was like a thin wrap of ‘mochi’ (glutinous rice pounded into paste and molded into shape) with caramel custard inside, and a lovely plum looking berry. Amazing little dessert and of course Atsushi San pawned his off to me as a trade off for a slimy prawn at the sashimi plate. Full full spring bellies.

Guihe Pancake

It was very interesting to hear Atsushi describe the Japanese job world during this dinner, he told me all about workers being ‘placed’ in areas of the prefecture. You sign up to become an employee of a firm and then every three years you get shuffled (some stay put but not many). Each time you shuffle you could get sent to the opposite end of the prefecture miles away from your original slot. It is perfectly normal for a husband to live four hours away from his family for six or more years. I thought it was fairly shocking to hear of families being split up for such long periods of time but to Japan that is how the working world keeps on its toes. They believe it is the best way to maintain good work relationships. Atsushi San agreed thatvit is sad/ lonely and stressful for a far away father. He would know having gone through years of it himself, he believes it is time for a change. Then again Japan doesn’t look too kindly on change so doubtful this change is anywhere nearby.

Kampai agus Slainte

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