During a recent visit to Japan I was invited by the Suzuki family to share a meal with them at their home restaurant in Musashi-Kosugi, a suburb of Tokyo in the prefecture of Kanagawa, a fifty minute train ride from Shibuya station.
I expected sushi and noodles to dominate the menu as it does in most Japanese restaurants overseas, but in fact that couldn’t have been further from the truth. The Suzukis did prepare an extensive range of dishes and snacks, for which the word ‘meal’ is unworthy; this was proper dining.
Everything was freshly prepared and home-cooked, made just hours, if not minutes, before we arrived. There were a number of dishes I had never heard of made with ingredients unknown to me, which resulted in trying a few flavours I’d never tasted before. Among other dishes, the meal included fresh sliced raw fish, sashimi, fermented soybeans, natto, Japanese home-cooked staple and pork cutlets. Delicious.
I was dining with California Yankee Marley and Taiwanese-Canadian Alex and despite our diverse backgrounds, none of us could not keep our fingers off the endless range of dishes; bowl after bowl, plate after plate. The Suzuki’s delightfully hyperactive kids could not stop (nor were they made to) running around the kitchen and constantly jumped up and down the couch, while an enormous television played a surreal game show in the background.
While chewing my natto, I came to realise that the Japanese are not only extremely friendly and polite; they simply know how to give you a good time. When I headed back to Central Tokyo later on that night, with tickled taste-buds and a smile on my face, I could only come to one conclusion: Japanese food is exquisite and I need to eat it more!