Thursday, September 22, 2011

Typhoon departs...dinner starts

My first morning back in Kyoto was spent filling the fridge and pantry and tackling internet and phone issues. Nothing out of the ordinary - just the usual settling in bibs n bobs. I did however run into the person I was sitting next to on the plane-ride over... on a bus near my place... random.  I'd barely spoken two words to her on the plane but I'd had a feeling I might run into her again and even suggested we might bump into each other at the sunday market... she laughed it off of course thinking that the sheer number of people in Kyoto might make that impossible... and looked at me as if I was perhaps a little simple or... just being unnecessarily polite. The flippant nature in which I delivered the possibility may have made it seem less than likely however that kind of thing just happens in Kyoto. The look on her face, when I approached them on the bus with a "would you guys please stop stalking me", was priceless. As I told them when I hopped off the bus - that's Kyoto!

In the afternoon I retreated to the safety of my apartment due to threat of a rather nasty typhoon. It turned out to be a bit of a fizzer as far as Kyoto was concerned but many other areas of Japan were badly affected  - including unfortunate Fukushima where the swollen rivers threatened to burst through the village and many were forced to evacuate - mother nature could you give these guys a break please?? Landslides in other areas nearby have caused some concern too but Kyoto, once again, has avoided disaster... knock on wood and all that. 

When the typhoon subsided I received a message from the lovely Michiko-san inviting me to an impromptu dinner with her and a mutual friend and I jumped at the chance. 

Omen is a noodle restaurant near Ginkakuji temple and worth checking out if you are in the area. They have an English menu. 

Omen, the restaurant's name-sake dish, was our choice for the evening - handmade udon noodles that one dips into a broth (hot or cold) which includes your choice of several healthy, aromatic ingredients added to it for flavour and texture and bulk! 
Of course the specials menu above tempted us into ordering the nama yuba with plum soy. And Mark couldn't go without his tori no sansho yaki (succulent chicken grilled and served with aromatic sansho pepper). Michiko also ordered her favourite - sabazushi (sushi with vinegared mackerel). All were superb, and light on a humid, late summer's eve.  
 chicken with sansho
 Ingredients for adding to your broth - burdock and carrots simmered in soy, myoga (ginger bud), ginger, daikon, greens, cabbage, snow peas, spring onions. That's the nama yuba (soy milk skin) at the front with the shiso flowers and leaf.
First step - add as much sesame as you like. Then add your veggies. 
Dip your noodles in and lift them out to eat them. You can drink a little of the broth if you like but it is quite salty and many Japanese choose not to consume much of it these days. 
Japanese garden expert Mark Hovane giving me instructions on how best to eat this refreshing dish. Thanks Michiko and Mark for sharing dinner with me - my first real meal back in Kyoto!

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