Almost from the moment we set foot in Kyoto, my foodie husband is scouting for new restaurants in our neighborhood that have opened in our absence. As hyped as I am to be sure to see the most intriguing gardens, sublime temples, cool museums and Japanese design shops, he’s on the edge of his seat to reconnect with the wonders and satisfaction of eating Japanese cuisine. He’s always on alert for the next culinary attraction. It could be a new sake bar, french bakery, izakaya, ramen, soba, steak place or hamburger spot. As long as it looks promising, my husband is eager to try it. We have our food work cut out for us, and I’ve learned not to resist. I simply try them all and go along for the great ride he pulls together and congratulate him on his finds.
If the place looks complicated, he likes to see if they have an English menu available. Given one, he’ll then bemoan the fact that not all of the items available in the restaurant are represented on the English menu. I remind him that there’s no way he could eat all the items even if they were listed, but he always want to see what he might be missing. I’m always eager to follow along with his trailblazing food-related energy. By myself, I’d never put in the effort he does.
Restaurants in Japan tend to be smaller than Americans are used to. Reservations are a must, so the chef knows how much food to buy each day. Once you understand their system, you respect it. If you rely on a last minute casual walk up, you’re going to be out of luck for most serious restaurants in Japan. And it’s remarkable how many restaurants are SERIOUS! By serious, I mean chefs and underlings studying and honing their specific skills for years, always delivering to the best of their ability, constantly striving for perfection.
Tourists tend to strive to score a rez at a Michelin starred venue, but there’s really no need if it’s just a fine restaurant you want and not another notch in your belt. Continue reading “The Foodie’s Heaven”