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No Reservations - Tokyo [SPOILERS]

10 minutes in and I'm thinking that the show, and I, would REALLY benefit from sub-titles in the Masaharu Morimoto segment. Thankfully, Bourdain repeated SOME of the things Morimoto said, but not everything. I had a real tough time understanding most of the dialogue, unfortunately.

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  1. That's funny, I always thought when they put up subtitles on Iron Chef when Morimoto is speaking English was an insult to the man.... I guess its necessary.

    1. I just activated close-captioning to read the dialog.

      1 Reply
      1. re: paulj

        Great idea. I'll have to remember that for next time.

      2. I didn't have a problem understanding him. Or maybe I just lip read and don't know it?

        I thought the photography on this episode was the best ever! And the program content was great too. I was relieved he didn't spend the time on subway station bento boxes and train packers. I do wish he had given more information about each of his "guides," but I did enjoyed his focus on classics. Thought it was interesting that Morimoto did NOT go with him when he did omakase. He gave everything his best shot with grace and aplomb.

        I've commented in other posts that I find his "chew speed" fascinating. In some episodes he has chewed food with lightning speed. Then he chewed slowly at the French Laundry, and I speculated his chewing speed is the only true reflection of whether he truly is enjoying something. During omakase, he chewed at a snail pace. It must have been mind blowingly delicious!

        9 Replies
        1. re: Caroline1

          If you have read an old Ruth Reichl's review of an omakase in NYC for the NYT, you sense a dynamic of the customer being enrapt at the offerings of the sushi chef. I think having Morimoto tag along would spoil that dynamic. It's probably less real for Morimoto to be in awe of a fellow sushi chef than for Bourdain and friends to be in awe of Thomas Keller at the French Laundry.

          What was being brushed on the sushi by chef each time before serving? Soy sauce?

          1. re: Minger

            You're right about it being a good idea to have Morimoto along for the omakase, but my bet is that the two chefs know each other pretty well. But my guess is also that Morimoto is waaaaaay too busy! Besides Iron Chef America, he has... what? Nine restaurants? More? I'm pretty sure he still owns all of the Nobu chain in addition to all of the Morimoto restaurants. Personally, I was glad to hear him speaking English and didn't have a problem understanding him. I really love his sense of humor!

            I'll pass on the New York Times article on sushi. I hate what the Americanization of sushi has done to an old fun tradition. I mean, it's NOT chanoyu! But they're trying hard!

            The stuff they were brushing on the sushi was a flavoring sauce or maybe even a light oil to finish the sushi. It may not have been the same for all sushi, or it could be. Who knows? "Real" sushi is never served with a dipping sauce, never eaten with chopsticks, and REAL sushi is never served by the platterful with all of the pieces arranged to look like a stupid damned caterpillar or a dragon or whatever. Oh, and REAL sushi isn't sold in a prepacked tray at Central Market with each piece wrapped in black nor-flavored bubble gum! LOL!

            There are still some authentic Japanese sushi bars in the U.S. Look for a small place in a neighborhood strip mall away from the big city high rent districts. Check to see whether the sushi chef was trained in Japan. If not, drive on! Here's the URL for my favorite Japanese restaurant:
            I'm both sad and relieved to see that the original owner/sushi chef has sold the place. Sad because he was a great sushi chef. Relieved because now I can quit grieving about not being able to eat there regularly. It may be the last place on the planet where I have done omakase. And please note, there is NO "omakase" on the menu. '-)

            1. re: Caroline1

              I'm pretty sure Morimoto never had any ownership interest Nobu. He was executive chef at the NYC Nobu during Iron Chef original recipe (i.e., Japan), then went out on his own.

              1. re: Debbie M

                Right - started by Nobu Matsuhisa (who employed Morimoto) it (and all the offshoots) are part of Drew Nieporent's Myriad group. Morimoto left and started his own place in Philadelphia, then NYC and Tokyo.

                1. re: applehome

                  My goof! Thanks for the correction. And now I won't bother going to Nobu Dallas and hanging out waiting for Morimoto to show up!* You've saved me a FORTUNE!!! '-)
                  *Not that I'd really do that. I'm not a fan of fusion sushi!

              2. re: Caroline1

                "The stuff they were brushing on the sushi was a flavoring sauce or maybe even a light oil to finish the sushi."

                My guess is the base (simmered) sauce, generically referred to as ni-jiru. Some see it as the liquid soul of the classical chef, primarily to (eventually) brush on ni (simmered or boiled/stewed) items, e.g. ni-anago (sea eel), ni-awabi (abalone) and if I wasn't mistaken one of the Sukiyabashi Jiro items that AB got served was hamaguri [clam] that definitely could use a brush of sauce (I noticed a prior post I had linking someone's photo blog of their SJ visit who also got hamaguri in their Jiromakase meal got removed as part of collateral damage or some CH TOS violation of blog linkage...sigh). This sauce can be a bit on the sweet side.

                Soy sauce can be seasoned further with other ingredients as needed. A nice touch is to season the sauce with konbu (kelp), and make it a reduction so it has a slightly more concentrated consistency to regular soy sauce, but full of flavor (and finger lickin' good). This is likely used for fish other than the above.

                The growing trend across Los Angeles, New York and Japan at top places, including touristy Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo (as well as those riding this bit of dining trend all around the world) is to pre-season and pre-sauce fish so no additional soy sauce or wasabi is needed. Of the great places, the sauce is made from scratch which is extremely rare these days. It is easier for most to just season a wholesale vat of soy sauce themselves to save time. Some might use a hint of citrus where appropriate (or splash on ponzu like there's no tomorrow, and perhaps no thanks).

                Purely subjective and debatable personal thing and preference. You can consider this blasphemy, or part of innovation. A local place I used to frequent has been doing fusion nigiri (for their omakase) and it has been a major major profit machine. We're talking seared black cod sushi with a brush of vinegared miso sauce on top, or a slice of kiwi on top, or seared scallops with yuzu tobiko on top and more citrusy based sauce. Or katsuo with raw onion slices, ponzu. Or hokkaido scallops with uni miso sauce on top with kaiware. Or aburi (seared) hamachi belly with yuzugosho (yuzu pepper). Lots of haters and lots of lovers.

                I mentioned this in my first post to this thread (that got deleted) and I'll mention it again. It was a pleasure for AB's camera crew to capture Jiro-san sitting down in front of a charcoal (?) grill and quickly hand searing/roasting nori sheets to make them more crispy and crunchy (for the customer's palate). A fine attention to detail that emphasis the cultural theme of the show.

                1. re: Caroline1

                  It's not authentic when the board of health requires you to freeze fish. I do agree about the Americanization of sushi, though.

                2. re: Minger

                  Yes. He brushes on his own house blend of shoyu. The nickname for this is "murasaki' which means "purple" in Japanese.

                  Instead of shoyu, some items may take just salt or a squeeze of citrus (yuzu, lemon, sudachi...). Also, some items will have wasabi (maguro, buri, etc.) and some grated fresh ginger (most hikari mono).

                  1. re: Silverjay

                    ah, ah, ah... namida, not wasabi - I mean, so long as you're sticking to murasaki...

              3. This show redeems the series after the Southwest show, that was an anomoly, thank goodness.

                I really really enjoyed the sushi part of the show. I liked the idea of not needing anything ewlse on the sushi. I kind of got a kick out of his question about perfection. I was sorely disappointed that the answers were not fully translated into English. I am sure the kendo master and the sushi master had a lot to say, but then again, too much talk isn't zen.

                I am not a huge fan of the Edo style dining, but the food porn on that segment was awesome. Oh, and the yakitori segment was killing me, especially the grilled chicken skin.

                I thought the cocktail scenes were a little retarded, although I enjoyed seeing the guy do his thing with the drinks.

                Morimoto was awesome, I liked the way he dismembered the monkfish and made all those dishes from that fish.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Phaedrus

                  I remembered to watch this show last night. I also saw the show in Sao Paolo, Brazil in the hour before, which I *really* enjoyed, especially the last part with Carolina. She was a hoot, and AB really seemed to enjoy his female companion guides throughout the entire show! Would have been fun to have him drink a few more caipirinhas and get him up to dance! LOL But he certainly did drink his share of caipirinhas, didn't he?

                  I don't know a lot about Japanese food, but did find the show fascinating. His search and queries about reaching perfection were essentially all answered the same, as I expected: "What is perfection?"

                  I have to agree on the cocktail section - just didn't seem to fit in, other than the quest for a perfect cocktail.

                  The scenery and introspective aspect of the show and AB himself was interesting to me. AB's respect for the Japanese culture and precise food preparation is quite profound. Quite a different show from others - whereas Spain next week looks to be more of what most expect from him - a bit crazier/wilder.

                  1. re: Phaedrus

                    At the beginning of the SW show he said something about it being a personal challenge. He'd been gracious guest in difficult places like Romania and Saudi Arabia; could he do the same in the USA? This show was a very different quest - one for perfection.

                    1. re: Phaedrus

                      To be fair, cocktails have become a humongous part of their culture. There's an obsession running with cocktails, at least in Tokyo. I do understand why he included it.

                      1. re: Phaedrus

                        The cocktail scene should've been completely eliminated in my opinion on the bases that it had no cultural relevance to Japan. When the bartender said he was inspired by a movie starring Tom Cruise I lost total interest in that segment. Morimoto was a perfect addition to this podcast. His English was passable. This show definitely made up for AB's Hokkaido segment of the podcast.

                        1. re: thesoulofjapan

                          I don't know about that. I viewed it as an example of the Japanese ability to absorb something in, then pivot it to reflect an aspect of their inner culture. AB's cocktail became the equivalent of an Ikebana piece rendered with glass, alcohol and garnish, and tasty too.

                          1. re: huiray

                            Cocktails and Ikebana is like trying to compare wine and grits.

                            1. re: thesoulofjapan

                              Fine, Let's then say the bartender portrayed demonstrated what making a cocktail became when distilled through the lens of Japanese sensibility, attention to detail, precision and visual form.

                      2. Agree with the comments about the quality of this show. One of the best NR ever in my opinion.

                        1. I enjoyed this episode, but is it possible to do any story on Japan without the requisite "shakuhachi" (bamboo flute) interludes? Ok, so maybe they didn't do it in the Osaka one. Can't remember..... At the soba shop, Morimoto ordered in Japanese an extra large portion of soba for Tony, but regular for himself. What's up with that?...I was glad that "nomiya" type of restaurants got some attention as these are sort of the Japanese versions of tapas bars and living in Tokyo, it's not unusual to have a couple of favorite spots like these to eat well and have a "Cheers" moment like he alludes to. The only thing I was disappointed in is that he still really did not do up the culinary experience of what a really good nomiya is like. The places he eats at are for the most part, the specialized dining spots like soba, yakitori, and sushi OR kaiseki meals. But he and his crew do a nice job of putting these experiences on their just pedestal. I think it's great that they could film at Sukiyabashi Jiro. He (Jiro) has the reputation for being very stern and particular. I noticed, by the way, that one of the nigiri items that he served Tony was "buri" (adult wild yellowtail) which is one of my favs. Probably this was filmed in winter if that's on the sushi menu...Having Morimoto prepare a meal was a really nice touch. I would have liked to have seen an extended cut of the drinking, geisha scene with Morimoto... The small area in Shibuya he visited called "Nonbei Yokocho" (Drunkard's Alley) was an interesting choice. Most of the places there are standard "nomiya", not that type of cheesy cocktail place. There's actually a very well-known yakitori shop in that area that I was kind of expecting him to visit. Unfortunately, these type of Showa Era red lantern alleyway areas are dying out in Tokyo. The situation's not dire, but in the busy parts of the city like Shibuya and Shinjuku, they may have to face some sort of preservation to survive the onslaught of progress and 21st century development. Anyway, they really speak to a very particular type of experience in Tokyo and I’m glad AB made a point of visiting. It’s a testament to his sensibility in pursuit of authentic experiences in the countries he visits. My only complaint about the episode is that it would be nice if someone QCed his pronunciation on "ryokan" and "kaiseki". It's not "ri-YO-kan". Just "ryo-kan". Not "kai-se-I-ki". Just "kai-se-ki".

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Silverjay

                            Does anyone know when this will be re-broadcast? (Saw the first half, dozed off for the second half)

                          2. I loved the episode. I read this thread first and being terrible at understanding broken English, I just treated Morimoto as speaking Japanese. Too bad. I didn't catch the thing they ate where they said Americans wouldn't order it based on the name. Anyone know what it was??

                            I would have to imagine that the monk fish meal and the sushi had to rank as two of the best meals AB has ever eaten.

                            I loved the yakitori part too. Although the thought of eating half raw chicken would be difficult.


                            4 Replies
                                1. re: Davwud

                                  aka Shirako. What's interesting is the way it was served.

                                  Even more interesting, AB didn't make some funny comment about how "disturbingly creamy" it was. :-)

                              1. re: Davwud

                                I recently had the amazing opportunity to dine at Morimoto XEX and I have to say it will stay with me for years to come. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have Morimoto himself prepare me a special meal.

                              2. I found a really cool interview translated into English, basically a discussion between Jiro Ono (of Sukiyabashi Jiro), his son, Jiro's former apprentice Shiro Kashiba (of Shiro's Seattle) and Shiro's apprentice Taichi Kitamura (who runs Chiso in Fremont district of Seattle). Really insightful.

                                Part 1


                                Part 2


                                Shiro and Taichi got more or less the same meal as AB.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: K K

                                  An interesting article. Thanks for posting. I don't agree with them that people aren't aware of the changes in food flavor as supplies deteriorate through the years. Rather than people being unaware of the changes, I think its a case of pasivity, and people quickly resigning themselves to the thought there's nothing they can do about it.

                                  As for tuna, tuna IS bad today. Instead of rushing down that "gotta have tuna for sushi" (or sashimi) road, I choose to skip tuna altogether except for an occasional tuna salad sandwich about every month or so made with canned albacore. The can of albacore doesn't taste anywhere near as good as it did twenty or thirty years ago, and that in turn couldn't touch the albacore of the '50s, but with enough mayo and fresh dill... I grew up in San Diego, on "catch of the day." If you shopped the fish mongers along the docks, everything they sold was caught that day. Including tuna. And if I could just get one small tuna of any quality of those days, it would be so superior to today's fish, I could sell it for hundreds of thousands of dollars in Japan.

                                  The thing I find sad is that these sushi masters are guilty of the same flawed thinking as the rest of the world. When Kitamura asks about finding a substitute for bad tuna for making good sushi, Jiro Ono rejects the idea out of hand, saying "they don't taste good," then cites the radish sprout fad of the past. Well, it shouldn't take a genius to figure out that radish sprouts do not taste nearly as good as great fatty tuna, but there is an implicit recoginition there that the public -- in Japan or anywhere else -- can be led in new directions. Success lies in the alternative being as satisfying, though different, as the orignal.

                                  So who's up for a little A-5 Kobe sushi? It's a LOT more sustainable than equal quality tuna! '-)

                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                    Everything that I found wrong with the previous S.W. episode seemed to be done perfectly on this one. the pacing and transition was spot on as were the tone and dynamics. Good balance of topics- i thought there was a wide range and though I would always want to hear more on any of the topics/place/people touched upon, I never felt let down when they moved on.

                                    And the food- Sure you guys with a bit more intimate knowledge of Tokyo may say this place over that, but the whole of the matter is I was sooooo in envy!

                                    Okay, we're back on track with this one!

                                  2. re: K K

                                    I believe Ono's son runs the Roppongi Hills' branch of Sukiyabashi Jiro....Wow, he served "inada" to those guys. That's very young yellowtail, as opposed to "buri" which is full-grown and what he served to AB. I've never actually heard of inada sushi- only as sashimi. (By the way, Ono's omakase is always 20 items. I read it in an NHK profile.)

                                    Ono's lament on the season shifting of when or whether certain items are available is ominous as both Japanese culinary culture, as well as the society at large, are very much tied to seasonal conventions. Also, he makes just a quick reference to it, but I've read that maguro, even at exorbitant costs to the consumer, truly is often a loss leading item for sushi shops.

                                    Thought the bit on temperature of sushi items at the beginning of the story was interesting as well. When I ate at Sushi Mizutani (who I have heard is a disciple of Ono) the temperature of each item was very deliberately managed. Mizutani has been quoted as saying the secret to his success and the sort of accumulated knowledge he has gained throughout the years, is the ability to serve specific items at specific temperatures....That said, it seems pretty subjective. Some of the items I was served I would have preferred more chilled to warm.

                                    ...It's depressing to hear that even in Seattle, the sushi scene is considered 20 years behind. How do Ichiro and Jojima survive?

                                    BTW K.K.- I recall that you have quoted a book on Tsukiji in the past on the Japan board by Koseki Atsushi . Can you provide some details on that book?

                                    1. re: Silverjay

                                      Silverjay, you have superb memory!

                                      Thanks to wikipedia that provided the kanji so I could enter it on amazon.co.jp to search.

                                      東京・築地 五つ星の味、極上の逸品 (単行本)
                                      小関 敦之 (著)


                                      if you search by the author he has written other books, and seems to be an authority figure by the media to be an expert on Tsukiji great eats, but the above book really goes beyond sushi. It may not be the definitive guide but it is useful nonetheless. As for me I have the Chinese translated version of the book, sold only in Taiwan. Unfortunately no English version.

                                      I've never been to Chiso but ate at Shiro's once at the counter, unfortunately not served by Shiro himself. I was not impressed (and had omakase) but this was before I knew I needed to be served by Shiro-san himself (doubt it would have made too much difference). I think the 20 years behind remark was in a way to stir up conversation that the disciples miss the ways of the old world and traditions that was a lot harder to embrace in Seattle (and out of respect for being in the presence of their master). But to Seattle's credit they are in major hub of local seafood (where else can you find premium geoduck for mirugai, local spot prawns for amaebi, uni from Alaska that can be almost as enjoyable as premium Santa Barbara, and of course plentiful wild salmon that can be used for a myriad of great preps, especially Copper River during early summer).

                                      There are sushi restaurants where I am from that take losses/hits on non tuna items, just to have them in stock. I could imagine when Santa Barbara uni is out of season, shops have to find other means, maybe even paying an ugly premium for Hokkaido uni, still charge an arm and a leg for a pair, and yet take a loss on it. I suppose somehow they make it up with beer and sake sales.

                                      Anyways, yes kudos to AB, his producers, Morimoto for making this one of the best episodes (next to episodes of Osaka and Hong Kong which I thought were pretty cool). I'd love it if he could go to Kyushu, Shizuoka, Hokkaido, Kagoshima etc.

                                      1. re: K K

                                        Thanks. I've seen it at bookstores in Japan actually. Decription says he was on the show "TV Champion" as the "Tsukiji King" ....Ted Bestor's book on Tsukiji is an excellent anthropological (but easy to read) study in English.....Bourdain should do Okinawa before any of those other places in Japan.

                                        1. re: Silverjay

                                          Hah! I thought of submitting Okinawa when they had the Travel with Tony contest, or whatever it was called (the one the woman from Saudi Arabia won), but was hindered by the fact that: I'm sort of shy; I didn't have a suitable video camera, so my presentation would have been me taking pictures of my Flickr page; I don't speak Japanese (nor Uchinaguchi), etc.

                                          Although having a cousin who cooks local dishes and the fact that it's a very pork-centric cuisine would have helped.

                                  3. i just sat here and read the entire thread and proceeded to check out the photos from the meal that was similar to AB's.... my stomach is jittery at the idea of having such delicious sushi and now i'm yearning to be back in tokyo.

                                    just wanted to let you all know that i will now be in utter despair because of the lack of anything remotely as delicious in my neighbourhood.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. I just wanted to make this statement to all you folks who say you don't value authenticity:

                                      Watch this show, and then if you still don't understand, get a 2x4 and hit yourself over the head - because you'll never get it - you might as well give up now.

                                      And keep in mind that this isn't about being frozen in time - the chefs talk, in the interview KK provided, about innovation. And each chef has his own presentation, his own specific ideas about ingredients, temperatures, techniques... but nevertheless the entire genre of great sushi in Japan has a framework that can be spoken of as authentic, and what we have here in America, is just not it - with few exceptions.

                                      It's not just the sushi - the yakitori and soba are all authentic aspects of Japanese cuisine that shine on this show. So now you can say to that generic Asian waitress in that generic Asian restaurant that you've seen Tony have the real thing - and guess what, this instant miso shiru, and this bottled tsuyu with the mostly wheat soba, and this california roll, well - it's just NOT authentic.

                                      Now... about that electric grill in the yakitori place...

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: applehome

                                        I agree with you in essence, but... The cocktail segment is absolutely "Japan Today!" But I thought the part where AB asked the bartender something like, 'At what point in time did you realize you wanted to make this your life pursuit?" and the bartender answered, "Two weeks ago." THAT was funny!

                                        But as for traditional Japanese culture, I don't recall any of the traditional "pour the other guy's sake and let him pour yours" type of exchanges. And no, you don't do that when you have geishas to pour for you, but in the other parts of the show... I suspect it must have landed on the cyber cutting room floor.

                                        And I am going to blow up my Tivo! It recorded over NR-Japan, and left six other crappy AB shows! Stoooopid machine!

                                        1. re: applehome

                                          I'm an authenticity nut as well, but I have to admit I was surprised that the sushi was eaten with the hands, is this always the case in Japan?

                                          It infuriates me that in my old hometown in Maryland, the Chinese-owned fake sushi joint gets ridiculously high scores in Zagat, and the tiny Japanese-owned joint in the small strip mall that makes the real deal (that someone else mentioned earlier in this thread) gets ignored. It's not to say that innovative fusion cannot ever take place, but it needs to have real links to the soul of the original, and unfortunately the American masses just can't see the difference.

                                          1. re: jeanki

                                            Sushi is always eaten by hand - authentically. It is never dipped in anything other than what the chef does for you. It is intended to be eaten in a mouthful as presented - and quickly - within seconds of presentation. A good sushiya will actually make take-out sushi a little differently knowing that it will not be eaten immediately. For a good illustration of this, see Kuitan, Season 1, Episode 1 (the very first episode).

                                            Sashimi, of course, is another matter.

                                            1. re: applehome

                                              That said, overwhelmingly, my experience in Japan is that people usually use chopsticks to eat sushi these days. At the really high-end places, yes, more so by hand.

                                              1. re: Silverjay

                                                In the Tsukiji Tokyo Fish Market selections book by Koseki Atsushi, he writes that at Ryu Sushi, they encourage tourists/diners to use their hand (also using hand gestures and saying "hand, hand").

                                                In an article by Nick Toshes (spelling) freelance writer when he wrote that Tsukiji article in Vanity Fair said that the chef of Daiwa Sushi told him to use chopsticks (later in the article he writes about eating at Masa Takayama's Masa NY restaurant who told him to use his hand).

                                                But if you watch the AB No Reservations episode of Osaka, at the neigborhood and really small sushi bar (husband and wife operated) where he eats before he leaves, at Koyoshi, he uses chopsticks.

                                          2. re: applehome

                                            Oh, I shuddered when I saw the electric grill. You may have better control of temperature with the grill, but there's nothing that replaces the taste of charcoal.

                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                              Charcoal isn't at the top of my food preferences. In fact, I've only ingested it in the activated form to deal with tummy troubles. :)

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                Chuckle, indeed - but it is a serious question. I taste great differences between my charcoal grill cooking and the gas grill - the charcoal definitely imparts a smokiness. Japanese are famous for their charcoal - from specialized bincho charcoal to shichirin cookers. Why is it that this electric grill yakitori is considered to be so good? I was thinking that at the temperatures he's using (over 900F) there would be insufficient time to absorb a lot of wood smoke, so perhaps it doesn't really matter. The intense radiant heat does the cooking and achieves the proper flavor (with some level of smoke coming from the dripping fat) and all it takes is for the cook to make sure it doesn't burn. Well... that's my theory anyway.

                                                I remember my favorite yakitori stand growing up, under the Yokohama train station, always had a line of thin, long hibachi going, and an assistant doing basically nothing but firing up charcoal in the back and bringing in shovelfuls to drop into the hibachi. You could smell the smoky chicken from the other side of the main platform. Yakitori was cheap-man's food - something for the common folk - not like sushi.

                                          3. I agree with those who said they couldn't understand Morimoto. We probably got less than half of what he said and kept saying, "what did he say?"

                                            why is it that every episode in any Asian country has a reverent, respectful, engaged Tony and nearly every American episode (New Orleans being the only exception I can think of) has a ha-ha, "aren't these people stupid or weird or both" type of vibe.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: rockandroller1

                                              I think that's just flat-out New Yorker attitude at play there. Humph! That is one aspect of Bourdain-world that kinda bugs me. Other than that, I can't help but love the guy and his show.

                                              1. re: dingey

                                                huh? New Yorkers somehow value Asian tradition over American?

                                                Maybe, it's just an aspect of irreverence, that you tend to not mouth off at the things you don't know so well, especially on TV where you can come across as a complete ignoramus. Showing deference to ancient cultures of the world is just normal. Besides, Tony has shown great reverence to shrimp and grits, whole pig, even the humble papaya dog in his back yard.

                                                If you read his blog on this show and on the next one in Spain, he clearly has a special place reserved in his heart for the food at these places, and it certainly comes across. As far as his vibe with the Nuge... yeah - stupid, weird, or both definitely comes to mind...

                                            2. MagnumWino, you must not have experience with Asians in the family speaking less than perfect English. :-)

                                              One interesting thing from Morimoto was his reverence for tradition, expressed at the soba restaurant. More or less he said, "You may think respect of tradition sounds funny coming from me, but a foundation must be built before you go in other directions."

                                              Fascinating show for so many reasons. I appreciated the reverence some parts of the culture still has for the the complete animal killed for the meal, eg the monkfish served by Morimoto and particularly the chicken served at the Yakitori place.

                                              Did anyone understand what the bartender said at the end of his segment? Bourdain wondered aloud whether the bartender had a moment of epiphany in which he understood how cocktails were to be made, and a translation was made of something the bartender said. I didn't understand the response.

                                              9 Replies
                                              1. re: Minger

                                                I think that was where he said it was watching Tom Cruise in Cocktail. How unfortunate.

                                                1. re: rockandroller1

                                                  Only unfortunate if that only led to a career in flair bartending. As it became a passion for well-crafted cocktails...

                                                  That's a bit like saying a 3 star chef getting his start on the fry line at Mickey D's is a bad thing.

                                                  1. re: Scortch

                                                    I took "unfortunate" to mean that Bourdain's effort to be sincere or profound got rewarded with a somewhat flippant answer.

                                                    1. re: Minger


                                                      I personally took it as an honest, if ironic, answer. Tom Cruise is a superstar in Japan (heck, so is Phoebe Cates!) and I can totally see it happening.

                                                      1. re: Minger

                                                        Not quite. I didn't think it was flippant as he probably meant it, but I just don't see him as a great, inspiring cultural icon.

                                                  2. re: Minger

                                                    As I said in another post this morning, my stupid damn Tivo recorded over the NR Japan episode but saved the NR crap, so I can't play it back, but... I don't recall Bourdain asking about an epiphany for the bartender as to how cocktails are made... My memory (possibly flawed?) is that Bourdain was waxing spiritual and asked the bartender at what point he realized he wanted to make cocktails/bartending his life calling... And the bartender grinned and said, "Two weeks ago." And everyone, including Bourdain, laughed.

                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                      You can download it for $1.99 at iTunes.

                                                      1. re: tofuburrito

                                                        Thanks. What I REALLY want is a VCR that records direct to DVD! <sigh> The movie industry won't allow it...

                                                        Well, unless there is one and I don't know about it. If there is, tell me! Tell me!

                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                          Search youtube for bourdain tokyo and the whole episode is available on three clips.