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An Adventure in Food & Drink in Tokyo & Kyoto | 东京和京都美酒佳肴之旅

 


Written & Photos by (作者, 图片来源): Vincent R. Vinci 魏文深


 

For those of you reading this expecting a sort of guide to places to eat the next time you visit Kyoto and/or Tokyo, that this is not. While I will be mentioning a few of the places I went to at the end of this piece, its more of an account of my journey through a few of the culinary traditions of Japan and what I learned along the way.

Prior to coming to the island nation, my knowledge of Japanese food primarily consisted of sushi, ramen and artfully crafted bento boxes, with little to no understanding of regional cuisine in the country and the reasons for its culinary traditions. This trip, while short, opened my eyes to a whole new world of flavor and dishes that went far beyond the sashimi, sushi and odd fried pork cutlet with rice that I’d experienced in China.

I didn’t experience everything that I would have liked – the stand-up soba noodle joints, yakitori and traditional cuisine of Kyoto went untouched during my stay – but learning about them opened my eyes to new things and experiences, and a few interesting finds, that are worth repeating and exploring further.

 Morning of Sashimi

The first day in Tokyo started bright and early with planning and immediately ditching those plans to join a few Indonesian folks I met on a trip to the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market for some freshly caught sashimi. Even though the market itself was closed due to a national holiday, the restaurant street was busy and bustling with tourists and all sorts of sashimi and fish restaurants, stall vendors and merchants hawking everything from grilled squid to fried sea urchin to raw oysters on the half shell glimmering in the early afternoon sun.

The spot we were seeking as we winded our way through the crowds of gawking people and tourists was a busy restaurant down a small hallway crammed beside a sea urchin seller (I would’ve gotten some to try had it not been a bit out of my price range). After a brief wait we entered our restaurant of choice: an establishment selling generous bowls of rice topped with sashimi or grilled fish with walls adorned with colorful menus, special offers and, where we were seated, a drawing of a giant tuna. I ordered a bowl of mixed bowl of tuna, white fish, salmon and squid sashimi with crab shavings. From the first bite, my mouth was filled with flavor. Each piece of fish was light and fresh, with its own unique flavor. The standout was the squid, which was pale white and had a jelly like texture tempered when dipped in soy sauce. Even the rice was amazing, with one of my companions noting that it was the best he had ever tasted.

The Tsukiji Fish Market itself is the largest fish and seafood market in the world, with employees in the market handling over 2000 fresh seafood products a day. The market handles over 400 different kinds of fish and seafood, with more than 700,000 metric tons of seafood being handled each year, a total value in excess of 600 billion yen ($5.9 billion as of 2013). Even though I didn’t get the chance to actually see the market, and it could be considered a little bit touristy, its worth the visit if you want to try some of the freshest fish you’ll ever eat.

Sake & Comfort Food

When the afternoon hit I hopped back on the train and made my way down to Ginza, where I was to meet a buddy from college, Jeff Takano, who has since become an expert and ambassador at a sake store in Tokyo, and learn a little bit about Japan’s native spirit, sake.

Sake, or Japanese Rice Liquor, is made from fermenting rice that has been polished to remove the bran. Instead of fermenting the sugar from fruit, as with wine, sake is made by a brewing process similar to beer in which rested and polished rice is mixed with a specific mold culture and allowed to ferment for 5-7 days before adding yeast and water to the koji (rice mold mixture) and sitting for 7 days.

Then, water, steamed and fermented rice are added in three stages, with the staggered approach allowing for increased volume and becomes the moromi (main mash). The moromi ferments for 2-3 weeks at 15 C (10 C or less for high-grade sake). Following fermentation, the sake is extracted from the solid mixture through a filtration process before remaining sediment (lees) is removed and the sake is carbon filtered and pasturized. Sometimes, distilled alcohol (called brewer’s alcohol) is added to bring out flavors that are sometimes lost in the mash.

The place we were going to in Ginza, Sake no Ana, was a classic sake bar, with wooden bar and fridges filled with some of the best sake from around Japan, even a bottle, as my friend pointed out, of a sake that had been named the best bottle in the world. Considering the price of tasting the bottling, Jeff opted for the second best bottle, Isojiman. For a first-time sake drinker like myself, it was nothing short of amazing. The chilled drink, first poured into a metal glass surrounded by ice for serving, was very mellow on the nose and palate, with hints of fresh berries hidden behind a slight refreshing dryness.

The next bottle was a slightly fruitier option. Senkin had a lively floral and fruity nose, a bit intense on the palate but still wonderful. Our journey wasn’t complete without small snacks to accompany our impromptu tasting: the waitress serving us, clad in a navy blue kimono, soon approached with a round serving platter covered with small blue bowls filled with three varieties of snacks. Jeff took a bowl of chicken while I took a bowl of pickled vegetables with fresh grated wasabi, nothing short of spicy and amazing.

While we dined and sipped we also tried some of the bar’s sashimi. The salmon, white fish and mackerel offered were, I dare say, superior in flavor to what I had in the morning in Tsukiji; more rounded and a slight umami – to which Jeff commenting that there must be something wrong with my taste buds.

During the whole affair, Jeff took the time to explain sake to me, emphasizing the name first. “Sometimes they translate sake as ‘rice wine’, but you should instead just call it sake or ‘Japanese liquor’” because it is brewed, much unlike wine. He further explained the 5 types of high-grade sakes to me. Junmai (Pure-Rice), the first type of premium sake, is sake that is made solely with rice, water, yeast and koji with no additives like sugar or brewer’s alcohol. Next is Honjozo. Like junmai sake, honjozo uses rice that has been polished down to 70% but contains a small amount of brewer’s alcohol to round out the flavors. Ginjo is sake that has rice that’s been polished 60% and generally is more fruity and light thanks to use of a special kind of yeast and fermenting process. There is also Ginjo Junmai, which is Ginjo sake that’s been made with the “pure-rice” method. Finally there’s the highest level, Daiginjo and Junmai Daigingo. The name Daiginjo means “super premium sake” with rice polished down to 50%. Junmai Daigingo is the same, but made with pure rice and no additives.

After awhile we ordered a third sake, Yorokobi Gaijin, which was my favorite of the bunch. The nose and palate were robust, with a somewhat thicker mouthfeel and hints of cocoa powder and chocolate truffle. Jeff paired this with Tamagoyaki, a traditional Japanese egg dish, and cream cheese with bits of squid, which worked to enhance the chocolate flavor I was experiencing in the sake.

All in all an eye opening experience, the evening was a lesson in a new national spirit and something to explore if you’re ever in Japan. In my opinion, sake is one of the many defining characteristics of Japanese culinary culture, and its something you shouldn’t miss out on or skip. Of course, sake, sashimi and comfort foods aren’t the stopping point on this journey, as there was still much to explore, especially in the realm of noodles.

Noodling Around

A stop in Japan, for me at least, wouldn’t be complete without a bit of ramen. Since ramen is available in all regions of Japan, each city and place has developed its own variety of the noodle dish with broth, fixings and large pieces of meat. While the origins of ramen itself are unclear, it is said to probably have originated from Chinese lamian, based on the use of Chinese wheat-noodles.

Ramen became popular in Japan in the 1900s, when Chinese vendors would serve the noodle dish with gyoza (fried dumplings) from stalls or shops, exploding in popularity during the Showa Period in the 1920s and well into the 1980s, especially with the introduction of instant ramen noodles. While there is a science to the creation of ramen noodles and how they work with the broth and other ingredients, it all escapes me now, but to learn more I’d definitely recommend watching the first episode of Mind of a Chef, “Noodle”, you can watch food writer and chemist Harold McGee explaining ramen in depth while flying through space via green screen.

Tokyo and Kyoto both have their own styles of ramen, with the Tokyo-style ramen consisting of a soy sauce-based broth. While I was there, though, the variation that was most recommended to me – often with much enthusiasm and excitement – was Tonkotsu (pork-based broth) Ramen. While there are many popular spots that serve up this amazing bowl around Tokyo, I found a place just down the street from my hostel, Toryuken Ramen (actually its a chain) that did just right.

After placing my order on the kiosk outside – you just input your cash, pick what you want and get a ticket that you take inside to show the staff – I sat down and in a few minutes got a piping hot bowl filled with an umami-packed broth, succulent noodles and tender chashu (cooked pork) that melted in the mouth. They also had some interesting toppings as well, like pickled and peppered veggies, pickled onions and hot sauce, but being a purist I didn’t soil the dish, preferring to slurp everything up until my stomach was full and happy.

It’s All Gyoza

If Tokyo is a bustling metropolis filled with flashing LED and neon lights and all sorts of hustle and bustle, Kyoto is its quieter cousin to the south. Older vibe, older subways, older Imperial Palace, yet more quiet than the big capital and filled with fresh mountain air, blue skies and even ravens. The place pretty much reminded me of my college town, Flagstaff.

As the original capital of Japan, Kyoto was once the epicenter of Japanese cuisine, and its regional specialties still remain popular today. While I was unable to try any of these due to the cost and price, its still interesting to explore. The top tier of Kyoto cuisine is Kaiseki Riyori, which has its origins in the Japanese tea ceremony and is a multicourse meal that was once enjoyed by the aristocracy. The more common version of this is Obanzai Riyori, or homestyle cooking, which is made up of multiple small dishes complimenting a main (usually meat) dish and rice.

While in Kyoto though, as I was searching for Bar K6, one of the city’s best cocktail and whiskey bars, to get my Japanese whiskey and cocktail fix, I stumbled across a place nearby called Chao Chao Gyoza that had a ton of reviews claiming it to be the “best gyoza place in Japan.” My curiosity piqued, following a few drams and cocktails at K6 I made my way to the place and found myself in a line of foreigners. I nearly turned away, but decided to try it out and put my name on a list for a 20 minute wait.

When my name was finally called and I entered to find a bar packed with patrons behind which staff were busily molding and frying up a crazy amount of gyoza. The menu had so many flavors to pick from that it was almost daunting, but I finally settled on the classic pork gyoza and special red chili flavor. I was not disappointed. These were probably the best damn fried dumplings I’d had in my life. I was joined on both sides by equally impressed guests, a couple from Texas and another from Spain, who shared my enthusiasm.

Not deterred and craving more, I ordered curry dumplings followed by chicken and wasabi flavor along with a big pint of Asahi. If there was a night in Japan that was worth the wait and the time to check it out, this was it. Definitely recommended if you visit Kyoto, ancient haute cuisine be damned.

With all its ins and outs and organized chaos, Japan is one of the most interesting countries in Asia that you can visit. From ramen to sake to sashimi to gyoza, there’s so much different foods on offer in Japan that you won’t be craving any Western options while there – unless its an extended stay perhaps – and when you leave there will probably be more to try on your next trip. This is my intention for my next journey to Japan, which I hope comes soon.

 

如果你把这篇文章当作你下次去东京和京都时要参照的一本饮食指南,那你就错了。虽然我会在文末提到一些地方,但是这篇文章更像是通过介绍日本一些传统美食以及我在旅途中的所见所闻来记述这场旅行。

去这个岛国之前,我对日本食物的认识只停留在寿司、拉面和精心制作的便当盒上,而对这个国家的地方菜肴及其饮食传统背后的原因几乎一无所知。这次旅行虽然只有短短几天,但是却让我眼界大开,把我带入了一个全新的美食世界,所品尝过的美食远不止于我在中国吃过的生鱼片、寿司和炸猪排饭。

我并未把我想尝的美食都尝了个遍——在日本旅行期间,荞麦面、日式烤鸡肉串和京都的传统美食,我一样都没碰过——但是了解它们让我见识到了新的事物,有了新的体验和发现,而这些都值得反复提起和进一步探索。

寻觅生鱼片的那个早晨

我在东京的第一天始于一个明媚的清晨,我做了计划,而后又放弃了,因为我在去世界著名的筑地鱼市场的路上遇见了几位印度尼西亚人,于是我就和他们一同前往市场去品尝新鲜的生鱼片。由于正值法定假日期间,所以市场当天是闭市的,但是市场外围的商业街却很是热闹,挤满了游客、各种各样的海鲜餐馆、摊贩和商人,兜售着五花八门的海鲜,从烤鱿鱼到油炸海胆,再到在午后阳光的照射下闪闪发光的半边贝壳上的生蚝。

我们穿过熙熙攘攘的人群以及一条狭窄的走廊,走廊旁有一家海胆店。我本想进去尝尝看,但是考虑到海鲜价格实在太高了,我只好就此作罢。后来我们找到了一家生意繁忙的餐厅,等了一会儿后走进了去:餐厅供应的生鱼片饭和烤鱼饭的份量很足,墙壁上还贴着绚丽的菜单和特价优惠,还有一面墙上挂着一副很大的金枪鱼画,而我们就坐在这幅画的边上。

我点了一碗混合了金枪鱼、白鲑鱼、三文鱼、鱿鱼生鱼片和蟹肉的饭。吃了第一口后,我的嘴巴里全是海鲜味。每一片鱼肉既清淡又新鲜,有着独特的风味。其中尤为出众的是鱿鱼,色泽洁白,蘸过酱油后,口感更为润滑。甚至连米饭都很好吃,我的一个同伴称这是他吃过的最好吃的米饭。

日本清酒和爽心食物

当天下午,我坐上火车前往银座,去见我在大学时代认识的一个好朋友Jeff Takano,他现在成了东京一家清酒店里的行家和大使,我还能从他那里了解一些关于日本清酒的知识。

日本清酒或日本米酒由经过抛光并去除米糠后发酵过的大米制成。不像红酒那样运用水果本身的糖分去发酵,日本米酒的酿造法和啤酒相似,将精米和特殊的米曲倒入酿酒缸里,发酵5到7天后加入酵母和水,再让它静置7天。

之后,将水和发酵过的大米分三次加入,这种分阶段的方式有助于增大体积并形成酒浆。酒浆在15摄氏度下(高浓度清酒需在10摄氏度以下)发酵2到3周。发酵后,通过过滤将清酒从固体混合物中提取出来,再去除其中的剩余沉积物(酒渣),清酒还要经过活性炭过滤和巴氏消毒。有时候,经蒸馏得来的酒精会被加入其中,以产生酒浆中时常流失的风味。

在银座,我们要去的地方名叫酒穴,是一家传统的日本清酒酒馆,有着木制吧台和摆满了产自日本各地最优质的清酒的冰箱,我的朋友甚至指出其中一瓶清酒被誉为世界上最好的一瓶。考虑到其价格高昂,Jeff选择了仅次于它的那瓶酒——“矶自慢”。对于像我这样初次品尝清酒的人来说,其口感简直令人啧啧称奇。将冷藏过的清酒倒入一个被碎冰块包围的金属杯里,味道纯正香浓,干型清酒风味中还隐藏着一股新鲜的浆果味。

另一瓶清酒——“仙禽”的果香味更浓。它有一股浓郁的花香和果香味,口感也更浓醇些,但是依然很不错。美酒如果没有好食陪伴,那我们这场旅行就算不上是完整的:穿着深蓝色和服的女服务员端着一个圆形托盘,走到我们面前。托盘上放着三只蓝色的小碗,碗里装着三种不同的小食。Jeff拿了一碗鸡肉,而我拿了一碗配有新鲜的碎芥末的酱菜,既辛辣又美味极了。

我们一边用餐一边呷着清酒的同时还品尝了店内的生鱼片。我敢说店里供应的三文鱼、白鲑鱼和鲭鱼比我那天早上在筑地鱼市场吃的味道更好;口感更饱满、更鲜美——对此,Jeff说这肯定是我的错觉,因为所有人都说筑地鱼市场的海鲜是最棒的。

在整个过程中,Jeff还花时间跟我介绍了5种清酒。第一种是纯米酿造酒,即为纯米酒,仅以米、米曲和水为原料,不外加诸如糖和食用酒精之类的添加剂。第二种是本酿造酒。和纯米酿造酒一样,本酿造酒选用精米率高达70%的大米,但是会额外添加少量食用酒精以便让其口感更饱满。吟酿造酒选用精米率在60%以下的大米,通过采用一种特殊的酵母和发酵工艺,这种酒一般来说果香味更浓,口感更清爽。吟酿造酒还包括由纯米制成的纯米吟酿。最后一种是清酒之王大吟酿和纯米大吟酿。大吟酿意为“超级优质的清酒”,选用精米率为50%的大米。纯米大吟酿中的精米率也是50%,但是只用纯米制成,没有任何添加剂。

过了一会儿,我们点了第三种清酒KU 16,这是我最喜欢的一种。味道浓厚,气味香醇,还伴有可可粉和巧克力松露的风味。Jeff还点了玉子烧,这是一种加入了奶油干酪和鱿鱼的日式鸡蛋卷,有助于增强清酒中的巧克力风味。

总之,这是一次让我大开眼界的经历,这个晚上经历的一切就是一堂关于日本清酒的课,而且它值得你去探索,如果你有机会来日本的话。在我看来,清酒是日本饮食文化中的基本特征之一,也是你不容错过的。当然,这场旅行并不止于清酒、生鱼片和爽心食物,还有很多可以探索的美食,尤其是就面食而言。

日本拉面

至少对于我来说,如果没有品尝过拉面,那么这场日本之旅就算不上是完整的。拉面遍布日本各个地区,每座城市和每个地方都开发出了带有地方特色的各种各样的面食,再配以肉汤、配菜和大块肉。虽然日本拉面本身的起源尚不清楚,但是据说它可能发源于中国,而它的原身便是中华拉面。

在明治时代早期,拉面是横滨中华街常见的食品。1900年代,来自上海和广东的中国人在日本卖切面,配以简单的汤底和配料,再搭配煎饺。在1920年代的昭和年间,拉面在日本开始流行。1980年代,日本拉面成了日本饮食文化的代表之一,尤其是随着方便面的出现。拉面的制作及其如何与肉汤和其他配料一起烹煮是一门学问,但是现在都被我忘光了,不过若你想了解更多,我强烈建议你去观看纪录片《大厨异想世界》的第一集“拉面”,让美食评论家和化学家哈洛德·马基向你深入介绍拉面。

东京和京都都有各具特色的拉面,东京拉面搭配的是酱油风味肉汤。不过,我在日本期间发现的最值得推荐的一种——总是让我倍感兴奋并充满热情——是豚骨(猪肉汤)拉面。虽然东京各个区域有许多深受欢迎的店铺供应豚骨拉面,但是我发现,在我住的那家旅舍所在的街上,有一家名叫Toryuken Ramen的店(事实上,这是家连锁店)制作的拉面味道恰到好处。

在外面的自助下单机上下单后——只需投入现金,选择你想要的菜品,得到一张订单票,拿着它走进店内并向工作人员出示这张票——我找到位子坐下来,几分钟后,一碗滚烫的拉面摆在我面前,鲜美的肉汤、多汁的面条和能在嘴里化开的软嫩的熟猪肉。他们还会供应一些有趣的配料,比如用胡椒调过味的腌制蔬菜、腌洋葱和辣椒酱,但是作为一位纯粹主义者,我并不想破坏拉面的原有风味,反而更喜欢“稀里呼噜”地吃着纯正的拉面,直到吃饱喝足才心满意足。

日式煎饺

如果说东京是一座繁华的大都市,到处都是闪烁的LED灯、霓虹灯以及熙熙攘攘的景象,那么京都就是座相对宁静的城市。浓厚的历史气息、年代久远的地铁、古老的皇宫、清新的山间空气、蔚蓝的天空,甚至还能看到渡鸦。这个地方让我想起了我家乡的大学城弗拉格斯塔夫。

作为日本曾经的首都,京都曾是日本的美食中心,这里的地方特色菜品至今仍深受喜爱。由于价格昂贵,所以我没有尝试任何一样菜肴。京都最高档的菜色就是怀石料理,起源于日本茶道,是一顿分多个进食步骤的正餐,曾为贵族阶层所享用。其更常见的版本是家常套餐料理Obanzai Riyori,由数道小菜、一道主菜(通常是肉食)和米饭组成。

在京都,在我寻找这座城市最好的鸡尾酒和威士忌酒吧Bar K6去尝尝日本威士忌和鸡尾酒的过程中,我偶然在附近发现了一家名为Chao Chao Gyoza的日式煎饺店,大量评论称这是“日本最好的煎饺店”。出于好奇,在Bar K6喝了一些威士忌和鸡尾酒后,我就去了这家煎饺店,店前排着一条长队。我几乎都要转身走了,但是最终还是决定试试看。

20分钟后,终于轮到了我。我走进店里,看到一个挤满了顾客的吧台,吧台后面的工作人员正在忙碌地包着饺子,煎锅中的饺子更是数量庞大。菜单上有太多种口味可供挑选,以至于让我无从下手,不过最后,我还是选择了经典的红辣椒口味的猪肉煎饺。煎饺的味道并未让我失望,这可能是我一生中吃过的最好吃的煎饺了。坐在我两边的顾客对这家店的煎饺同样感到印象深刻,其中一对夫妇来自德克萨斯州,而另一对则来自西班牙,他们和我一样对这里的煎饺很是喜欢。

对煎饺的热情并未就此打住,在就着满满一品脱的朝日啤酒吃了一份芥末口味的鸡肉水饺后,我又点了一份咖喱口味的煎饺。如果说在日本期间,有什么是值得我去等待,值得我花时间去尝试,那非煎饺莫属。如果你去京都,这家店绝对值得推荐,连历史悠久的高级料理都无法与之比拟。

有关日本的一切以及它的乱中有序让它成为亚洲最有趣的国家之一。从拉面到清酒,再到生鱼片和煎饺,日本拥有如此多种多样的美酒佳肴,以至于让你不再想吃任何西方食品——除非你长住日本——而且,哪怕你离开了日本,在你下次去日本时,那里或许会有更多值得你去尝试的事物。这就是我下一趟日本之行的目的,希望这趟旅行早日到来。


Where to Stay|住宿:

Oak Cabin Hostel (Tokyo) | オークホステルキャビン
Address|地址:1-16 Hakozaki cho Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-0015 | 〒103-0015 東京都中央区日本橋箱崎町1−16
Contact|联系电话:03-6264-9452

Kyoto Morris Hostel (Kyoto) | 京都モーリスホステル
Address|地址:Umeuniki-machi, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 604-0905 (Shin-Karasumaru) 133 |  〒604-0905 京都府京都市中京区梅之木町(新烏丸通)133
Contact|联系电话:075-257-0333

Dining & Drinking|餐饮:

Tsukiji Fish Market | 築地市場
Address|地址:2-1 5-chome Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0045 | 〒104-0045 東京都中央区築地5丁目2−1
Contact|联系电话:03-3542-1111

Toryuken Ramen (Nihombashi Hakozaki Branch) | 东日本(日本桥箱崎店)
Address|地址:5-15 Hakozaki cho Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-0015
Contact|联系电话:03-6667-0650

Chao Chao Gyoza (Sanjyakya Branch) | チャオチャオ餃子 三条木屋町店
Business Hours|营业时间:5:00 PM-2:00 AM
Address|地址:117 Kiya Town Sanjo Simo, Ishiya-machi, Kyoshi-ku, Kyoto 604-8002 | 〒604-8002 京都府京都市中京区石屋町117番地 木屋町三条下ル
Contact|联系电话:075-251-0056 (No Reservations)

Sake no Ana | 酒の穴
Business Hours|营业时间:11:30 AM-11:30 PM
Address|地址:5-8 3-chome Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061 |  〒104-0061 東京都中央区銀座3丁目5−8 (2 minute walk from Ginza Station Exit A2|从银座地铁站A2出口出去,再步行2分钟)
Contact|联系电话:03-3567-1133


Clarification: In the print version of this article, we mistakenly left the names of the three sakes blank along with the name of the egg dish – Tamagoyaki. Also, it should be noted that the name of the sake bar is Sake no Ana, not Hole of Sake.

更正:在印刷版本的《舌尖上的日本》一文中,有部分食物的名称没有正确书写。此外,文中提到的那家清酒酒吧的正确店名为Sake no Ana,而不是Hole of Sake(酒穴)。特此更正,以表歉意。

 

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