Saturday, March 2, 2013

Eating my way across Japan (well through Tokyo and Kyoto): Part 2

Eating our way through Kyoto! When we arrived, because it was February - it was freezing cold and raining buckets (which sometimes turned into sleet and snow). We checked into our hotel and ran next door to a soba restaurant. I expected it to be a cheap noodle joint. WRONG! Handmade soba (a noodle made of buckwheat) was the order of the day. Since we were cold to the bone, we ordered the set lunch menu. However, we were so hungry, we forgot to take a photo of the actual beautiful soba that we ate. Oh well. I have found a photo for you.

Warming green tea to start off. I adore the pottery in Japan. 

Setting up the meal. I learned that you are not supposed to move the plates around after I moved the plates around. Oh well! Presentation is always elegant. 

This is similar to the cold soba that we had on a bamboo tray. My favorite! 

This was similar to the hot soba dish we ate but ours was more brothy and in a type of miso with seaweed. 
After the meal, they had us mix the leftover broth from the hot soba into a barley "mush" to make a type of hot thick porridge that we were assured was very healthy for us. I'm not sure either of us realy enjoyed it. We were then served some delicious cinnamon ice cream with roasted barley on top. After this, between the travel, the good food, and the cold rain - it was nap time. Nap time ended up lasting through the night. 

The next day we got up bright and early to hit all the Kyoto temples and shrines. It was snowing so we needed to fortify ourselves with snacks!

Alec regards his "boot" of lemonade suspiciously. 

Fried pastry grilled like a waffle but filled with a delicious custard. Beautiful and tasty!
 Even the temples have restaurants, snack bars, and even holy water that is going to cure all my diseases and grant me a wish!

C'mon Holy Water - do your thing.

Alec is also getting into the spirit of it. Neither of us chose to buy a special cup and took our chances with the "ultra-violet light" purifying stand that the cups were kept in so we feel safe and sound. 
We were cold in the temple, so we stopped at the snack bar. Along with the free cup of hot green tea, I also ordered something that sounded divine - it was ginger with hot sake. What it didn't mention, however was that it was a porridge like consistency.

Thick and hot and sweet and spicy and alcoholic. Somehow it didn't work for me though. 
After a cold day walking around the snacks, we saw a sign for a whisky bar and thought that might warm us up.
"Highball" bar. This bar had nothing but whisky in it. It was so cold we stopped in for a dram. Unfortunately, I neglected to realize that a highball will have ice and soda water in it. So my Laphroig was diluted down and ice cold. Which was disappointing. 

Then we went home for a "disco nap" in our new Ryokan - the lovely "Ryokan Sakura". We stayed in a lovely room called the "Tea Ceremony Room".
Alec doing the traditional Asian photo pose while collapsed on his futon. 

Traditional decoration with a little alcove.

I think I'm mixing up my Thai with my Japanese but I loved the complimentary cotton robes! 
One of the best reasons to visit Japan in the winter is to realize the crazy pleasure that is the heated toilet seat. After a long frigid day out in the wind, stepping into the commode room to a heated seat is a wonderful pleasure!  We took a brief nap and then headed out to eat again.

Sake - delicious hot sake.

Skewers of fish in a miso sauce. We also had pork and chicken skewers. Delicious and beautiful! 
The bar area of Kyoto where there are literally hundreds of little bars! 
Luckily, we drank too much sake to remember to take photos of the riotous Karaoke night that followed. Just to give you a taste - imagine a bar with six stools. Three Japanese are enjoying a night out of solemnly singing Japanese music and in burst Alec and I. I wanted to sing. I sang such great karaoke hits as "Immigrant Song", "Get into the Groove", and "Make some noise".

Watch the videos and you'll see - I was just like this! Completely in tune. I promise you.
Yeah - I've got the Robert Plant hair and the pipes!

And I was doing the dance from Suddenly Susan....

I may even have done the "old school, throw down dance contest from the future". You are SERVED!

Then our gracious Japanese hosts invited us to join them in a great version of a classic Japanese-American friendship song found below....

What a wide and wonderful day in Kyoto!

Next up - part 3: Two more days in Kyoto! 

No comments: