In Kyoto too there was, of course, so much amazing food to enjoy! On our first evening here we stumbled upon a tiny little teppanyaki place, with one quiet chef and one friendly waitress. Here we got to try a Southern Japanese special: okonomiyaki. This is a sort of savoury yam-based pancake/omelette, filled with pretty much anything, griddled to golden-brown perfection, and topped with special sauce and plenty of bonito flakes.
The restaurant was very welcoming and also keen on remembering their visitors from around the world, so we joined their map. I don’t even remember the name; it felt like a magical sort of place that wouldn’t be there in the morning – off elsewhere to feed some other hungry tourists and warm their hearts.
One afternoon we had a cooking lesson which started with a walk round Nishiki Market, with our guide pointing out lots of exciting ingredients, and the sellers offering us some tasters as well. We bought some of the ingredients we needed later, and all four of us in the tour group had a go at asking for an item at each shop (after much training from the guide).
Top: Pickle shop; Japanese cucumbers pickled in sake lees (yeast residue after brewing)
Bottom: Dried bonito tuna (shave your own flakes during cooking); Different grades types of miso paste.
Then over to the cultural centre where we got straight into our cooking lesson. Here are the ingredients for the sushi roll – the trickiest bit is making the rolled omelette, but we all succeeded!
Rice; crab stick, shiitake mushroom, gourd, cucumber; rolled omelette; the final rolled sushi, ready to be sliced.
The cooking lesson was held at the same WAK Japan cultural centre where we had the tea ceremony, so it was lovely to see Yukiko-san again and be taught by her. She explained that UNESCO has awarded the status of Intangible Cultural Heritage to washoku, traditional Japanese cuisine. It was lovely to try this, and it was actually quite straightforward with a little experience and knowledge of the ingredients.
On our final evening in Japan we had a bit of a blowout, at an unassuming office block which turned out to house several large restaurants.
We had a ‘stairway’ of sashimi, tried horse meat (which was really very tasty!), had fantastic sushi and meat skewers, and rounded it all off with a matcha green tea medley of panacotta, ice cream, and kit kat.
And all too quickly, our trip was over. We were off to the airport the next morning, and back home in no time. And then we had all the fun of unpacking, and going through our souvenirs and photos. What a wonderful honeymoon we had, full of astounding discoveries, lovely little gems of experiences, stories and images from childhood come alive, and wonderful new memories for both of us. It was just perfect.