It was really unfortunate what happened to Japan but instead of dwelling on the negative things, let us for once focus on the positive and that is the wonderful display of the human spirit. In one of those rare instances, the world came together. It seems that everyone is keen on doing his or her share to give back to the country that has given the world much. We join hands to pray and lift the morale of the grieving, create masterpieces to sell for charity, give however small a donation and to jam for Japan. I say we add to that list and eat for Japan.
This made me go through a mental checklist of my favorite Japanese restaurants. Actually it is a pretty long list. My friends play an important role in that. They would alternately bring me seafood ramen from these restaurants on days when I am too sick to go out or when my doctor has already threatened me to stay home and rest or else I would have to be confined. There is however one from this list that for some reason always comes up as my first suggestion when someone says, “I feel like eating Japanese.”
I am talking about no other than Nihonbashitei. I have had several lunch meetings, dinners with friends and birthday celebrations in this place but I never get tired of it. During peak hours, it is the place to be. Most of the time that I am there, I would bump into someone I personally know or someone I have seen from the nightly news. It is interesting to find these people who own or run these big companies enjoy lunch or dinner in the same packed place as everyone else.
Entrance view equals sake bottles plus sushi bar
If you are holding a meeting there, be smart enough to reserve a room. It gets really noisy with the television blaring the NHK channel, the chopping going on in the sushi bar and the chatters of business gossip. The some already familiar Japanese patrons also add to the authentic feel of enjoying a delicious, real Japanese meal.
Table for four
Now I take you through only one of the many possible meal combinations that three people can share to satisfy your cravings. I say one of the many, because almost all that they serve here are very good, but these ones you should not miss.
We start off with two orders of the really fresh Salmon Sashimi (P280) and for some flavor one order of the Toro Spicy Sashimi (P220). These are very filling so make sure that while you partake in the freshness of each slice, you would still have room for the main course.
U.S. Beef Sukiyaki
One of us orders the U.S. Beef Sukiyaki (P470) that comes with rice, more soup, tsukemono and kobachi. It is also served first, which is good since you have to ceremoniously break an egg and then mix it with the soup. By the time the other dishes arrive, the soup is ready to be devoured.
Another orders the Una Jyu (P380). This popular rice topping has eel marinated with sweet sauce sumptuously sitting on top of Japanese rice. It is quite special so we asked for the recipe of the marinade, but apparently to do that we have to find their supplier all the way in Japan.
I would always order the Ebi Tempura (P280) set that comes with a generous serving of plain rice enough for me to eat the five shrimps and a bowl of miso soup. This is my favorite to order next to seafood ramen wherever I eat Japanese, and so to say that their tempura is good is something else because I have tasted so many.
True to Japanese tradition, hot or cold tea is served throughout the meal. And at the end of the meal, we always pick the nata de coco. The average cost of your meal depends on whether you are on a budget or you want to splurge. Looking closely on the menu though, and after having eaten here so many times, it is safe to say that with the quality of food and service you get, it comes out very much affordable and so worth it.
However bad the effects of the tsunami are it does not take away the fact that Japan is still home to the beautiful cherry blossoms, the world’s biggest car manufacturers and yes, yummy Japanese food.