Tokyo Je T'aime
The recent disaster and its ongoing aftermath has involved people in ways that are far greater in significance than food-related issues, and as such I believe the current silence on the Japan board is surely to be expected, and appropriately so.
The question of how to help in this circumstances for all of us who are not there is urgent, and is obviously better left to other forums, where it is being discussed, as it must be.
Yet I cannot help but feel that there is some way we can put this space, which feels like home to many of us, to a use that will be of some, albeit intangible, good.
In this spirit, I am inviting all Chowhounds to come to this thread and express the many ways in which they love and admire Japan, its culture and its people, with the inevitable tie-in angle of the amazing food this place has to offer. The title refers to Tokyo, but I of course intend it to cover the whole country.
I am a relative newcomer in this field, so I start with a couple of short line, promising to add to it as thread grows, as I hope it will.
I love Tokyo because in its non-descript back alleys magicians like Koji Sawada turn fruits of the sea into masterpieces of minimalist perfectionism.
I love Tokyo because of chef Takazawa, who brings two worlds of cuisine together in ways that defy formulaic articulation.
I love Tokyo because you can get drunk and lay down anyplace you want and sleep and nobody will bother you. Wonder how many Tokyo lovers are still here, seems like a lot expats took off pretty quickly, can't say I blame them (seems like some are trickling back). As for amazing food, many restaurants around my place are closing early, so had a warming mutton curry and nan from a Nepalese place in the neighborhood. It was the first time my daughter had ever eaten Indian food and it was just a joy to watch her delight in a completely new culinary experience.
I am not sure if I qualify to comment on this blog as I am not a resident of Tokyo however my hubby and I returned from a trip to Tokyo earlier in the month and were there during the earthquake. In addition we both got sick so didn't get to do the things we wanted - hence we MUST return because I fell in love with Tokyo. Watching CNN and seeing people who returned to Toronto stating they would never return to Japan was sad - silly people - so even given our limited exploration of Tokyo here is why I loved it:
Japanese people - extremely friendly and helpful. Our cab driver at the train station did not know the address of our hotel and we didn't have it in Japanese. He went over to the police station to find out. He didn't turn on the meter until he knew where he was going. In Hong Kong - meter goes on then the maps come out. While he was in the police station we watched some construction workers wave a cement truck into a job site. There was much bowing and thank yous to the public who were held up for only a moment. Very polite.
Baggage claim at the airport. Everyone stands on the line and politely waits for their luggage - very civilized.
The public transit is amazing - it puts anything here in Canada simply to shame. Fast, clean, easy to navigate - it was excellent.
Although we would love to learn Japanese you can get around without it. You could order food anywhere based on pictures.
Noodle restaurants where you put your money into a machine and out comes a ticket to give to get your tray.
Freshest sashimi at the fish market - amazing experience.
Not very touristy - the areas you would think would have become really touristy are not. You can enjoy with out the glitz and glitter.
Toilets - so many bells and whistles.
Oh and Japanese Yogurt - the best.
I love Japan in general. I'm yet to go anywhere I don't like. Aside from having the best food in general (I know this thread is about Toyko, but I'm dying right now for Tonkatsu from the place in Motomachi). The people are so kind and polite. If you look lost, someone will stop and help you, even if they're extremely busy. Even the day of the earthquake we got stuck in Ginza. Several Japanese people asked us if we would be ok in the train station with everyone else. A restaurant owner stayed after he closed his shop and gave green tea to everyone (and there were a couple hundred people) waiting for the JR train to come up (We eventually were able to get the subway back to Yokohama about 5 am).
I can't wait to be able to go back (my husband is in the military, and is out at sea until later in the year when I'll head back). It's funny how you can get homesick for somewhere that's not technically home.