Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Japan - The first fish eyeball

Hello everyone!

Much as we were captivated by the sumo - mainly because me and Ellen were making 1¥ bets on who would win each fight - we did have to leav before the main fighters took centre stage. After all, we had nowhere to stay.

Different day, different district of this enormous metropolis. Today we had decided to try and stay in Shibuya. Bit more hustle and bustle here than in Asakusa, which is evident when the green man illuminates on the 'world's busiest crosswalk'. Masses of people, vibrant lights and colours - this was more along the lines of what I had expected from the Japanese capital.

As I've mentioned before, me and Ellen have different styles of travelling so, as we toughed it out in a hostel the previous night, we found ourselves a hotel. We didn't have time to stick around, thought, as we were meeting Fumy and her English friend Lcuy for an authentic Japanese dinner.

Authentic is the word, especially the location. It was tiny. We were one of two groups in the place. Dependsing on whether your glass is half-full or half-empty, we were in the VIP room or the box room. Not a lick of English was on the menu, so we let Fumy and Lucy, who speaks fluent Japanese (!), do the ordering.

I don't exactly know what I had said during the course of the day, but I definitely got the short straw from our drinks order. Me and Ellen were both given sake to drink. Hers was great, tasting similar to a white wine spritzer. Mine...tasted like what I imagine paint stripper tastes like. Mixed with anacide. I had to wait for my ice to melt, and thus dilute the damn thing, before drinking it. Still, we did 'kampai' and chat away whilst we waited eagerly in anticipation for our food. Food that I had no idea as to what it would be.

It was a selection of mini-meals, brought out one at a time, to share. The first was sashimi, and was wonderful in conjunction with the wasabi accroutement. Wasabi seems to be the Japanese equivalent of kimchi - it comes with everything. Next up was a roll consisting of lots of little fish eggs. It was a strange taste - too strange for Ellen - but was pretty good. But this food was very, very normal compared to the next two main dishes.

Next up was a shell. Pretty normal, so far. You crack open the end and pull out the small edible part. Doesn't sound too bad, does it? Well, one Welsh genius managed to pull out the whole thing, and the Mona Lisa it is certainly not. The taste was pretty strange - yes, we did try the less-edible bit - similar to black pudding in texture as well as looks. We video'd my reaction - 'not great' is eventually uttered after I spend a while chewing and trying not to think about the black death in my mouth.

The final dish was a whole cooked fish. I say whole because every part of the fish was on the plate. It tasted beautiful, but we couldn't take our eyes off its...eye. Yes, I am not joking when I say that every part of the fish was on that plate. Lips, fins, eyes, to name three of the things you may not find served in your standard British restaurant. At this point someone dared me to eat it. Just looking at it was putting me off my appetite, so I said no. However, I am easily persuaded, and was eventually turned the at the third time of asking. Only after trying (and failing) to place it over my own eye.

I suppose that not many of you have ever had the joys of eating a fish eyeball before, so let me enlighten you a little bit. As you can see, the eye was dripping a little bit. The translucent part, the outside, was thus a bit gooey and liquidy in nature. This was the first bit that my gnashers got hold of. Two bites, and so far it's a little bit odd, but no worse than the other stuff we had been eating. Then the third bite. And the crunch. A loud, hard crunch. That was the middle bit, the pupil-cum-lens area of the eye. The two feelings in tandem just made it very strange, a bit like a a melted chocolate bar with a really hard nut in the middle. I can't say that it was disgusting, or that I didn't like it, because it wasn't all that bad.

It was an interesting way to end our meal. After eating and drinking, there is one activity that the Japanese seem to love doing. What is it? You'll have to find out next time!! Ooh, what a tease.

Love you all


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