Sending Salt to Your Enemy

I have just read Mark Kurlansky’s Salt: A World History, which had long been on my bookshelf unread.. Even though I read it for an introduction for my research on the overuse of salt, that was a very interesting book and gave me a new perspective of the Western history and trading in the old days. I first learned that salary, soldier, and salad originated from the word “salt.” I also read other books on salt in Japanese. In Japan, it’s rare to have rock salt from the earth. Almost all salt has been sea salt from the ocean. Therefore, almost all the roads of salt have lead to the ocean. There is a famous Japanese saying “Sending Salt to Your Enemy,” which means showing humanity even to one’s enemy. When a feudal lord whose territory wasn’t surrounded by any ocean was sealed off by its enemy, then, the other enemy from the other side respectfully shipped the salt to the rival feudal load. The story has long been favored by Japanese and has become Japan’s moral code of conduct. You are the salt of the earth and the sea.

Michelin Guide Tokyo Yokohama Kamakura 2011

Michelin Restaurant Guide released the list of next year’s selection yesterday. The book will be on the shelves this weekend. They added Yokohama and Kamakura, which are on the outskirt of Tokyo, to this year’s edition. As you may know, Yokohama is a flourishing port city and Kamakura was the ancient capital before Tokyo. Tokyo’s neighboring cities, where many savvy gourmands live, have a huge potential as an area for numerous hidden gems. A total of 266 restaurants were awarded in the 2011 edition. Three stars were given to 14 restaurants, all of which are located in Tokyo.

Here’s list of the three star restaurants:

Japanese: Esaki, Ishikawa, Kanda, Koju, Yukimura, Usuki Fugu Yamadaya(Fugu), Hamadaya, Nana-chome Kyoboshi(Tempura)
Sushi: Sukiyabashi Jiro, Sushi Mizutani, Sushi Saito, Araki
French: Joel Robuchon, Quintessence

How Sushi Chefs Think

I watched a TV program on NHK, which was featuring three aspiring young sushi chefs in Tokyo. Shinji Kanesaka of Sushi Kanesaka, Harutaka Takahashi of Harutaka, and Takaaki Sugita of Miyako Sushi talked about their philosophies and techniques on sushi preparation. They were all in their late thirties and had opened their own restaurants after 10 to 15 years of apprenticeship. Kanesaka has already received two stars from Michelin Guide and Takahashi, who had trained at the renowned Sukiyabashi Jiro, owns one star. All three sushi chefs said the rice was very important for sushi rather than how they prepared the pieces of fish. That wasn’t what I had expected. They really cared about their ways on how they cooked the rice, including soaking time and cooking methods. Furthermore, what was interesting to me was how they had practiced their sushi techniques. They used a rolled kitchen rag to practice shaping sushi after work. Sugita said that he used a mirror to see how he made sushi during his days of training. Kanesaka responded to that, saying he currently uses video for his apprentices. I really enjoyed the conversations of the chefs who carry the future of sushi on their shoulders. I learned a lot through it. .

Tokyo: Oversea Destination City by British

According to guardian.co.uk, Tokyo was awarded as the first favourite oversea city by Guardian Travel Award 2010. Tokyo, described as “home of all things hi-tech, modish and online,” suddenly came in at the top and replaced Sydney this year. Also, Japan was ranked second as a favourite long-haul country after being fifth last year. I was not able to figure out what has happened to the British travelers, as the article said “expect the unexpected.” Travelers are definitely evolving every year and their needs fluctuate, keeping up with the times, tide, economy, and exchange rates. It’s not an easy business…is it?

Michelin Guide Kyoto Osaka Kobe 2011

Michelin released this year’s guide for Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe last week. They have added Kobe this year to the two cities from the previous year’s guide. 239 restaurants were introduced in the book with 42 hotels and 31 ryokans. A total of 12 restaurants were awarded three stars, which is the largest number of any given from a single Michelin guide so far. And, 44 restaurants received two stars and 183 followed with one star.
What a number of dazzling stars! Let’s hope it’s not too shiny.

Here’s the list of the three-star restaurants:

Japanese
Kikunoi(Kyoto)
Kyoto Kiccho(Kyoto)
Chihana(Kyoto)
Mizai(Kyoto)
Tsuruya(Kyoto)
Nakamura(Kyoto)
Hyoutei(Kyoto)
Kashiwaya(Osaka)
Taian(Osaka)
Komago(Kobe)

French
Hajime(Osaka)
Ca Sento(Kobe)

Brown Rice Sushi

My friend told me that there’s a brown rice sushi restaurant in Boston. I googled “brown rice sushi” and found many of them in the States. I would have never imagined such a thing. I thought this idea might come from macrobiotics or the raw food diet. As you may know, white rice is produced after the surface of the brown rice is removed. However, the surface of the rice contains vitamins and dietary minerals and Japanese who are conscious about their health eat it regularly. It’s quite hard to find restaurants which serve brown rice sushi in Japan at this moment. I want to try it the next time I visit the States.

Draft Beer in the Sky

According to Nikkei Shimbun, All Nippon Airways(ANA) announced that they will be the first air carrier to serve draft beer during flights. ANA developed special kegs with a Japanese electronic appliance company to get over the air pressure issue. Only domestic flights offer the service at the price of 1,000 yen per cup with a snack for the moment and only 20 cups per flight are available. Enjoy the summer!