Today was my first full day spent immersed in the Japanese culture. My day started with a short, and expensive, taxi ride to my place of work. I was meeting, for the first time, the Japan team I have been working with for months. They are such a terrific group. Though we do have language challenges they all speak enough English so that I can work with them well. For lunch they took me to a traditional Japanese Noodle restaurant for soba and tempura. I was a bit skeptical and worried but it turned out to be one of the best asian meals I have ever eaten.
The meal began with a green tea service. The waiter placed green tea powder into the bottom of each cup and then added a slightly sweetened, hot water. The tea was really, really good. Our meal consisted of soba noodles which the Japanese place into a bowl of soy sauce to “soak”. While the noodles soak you eat the vegetable and seafood tempura. Today I had two prawns, sea bream, potato, eggplant and shiso leaf tempura. The shiso leaf is a herb that is part of the mint family. It is a beautiful, green leaf with jagged edges. Very tasting when fried in the light tempura batter. The sea bream was a big surprise to me. It was just heavenly and I could have eaten several strips given the opportunity. Our meal was rounded out with a green tea cheesecake. It came shaped as a heart and was such a nice surprise.
On way my into the office this morning I walked by a street vendor selling breakfast noodles and snacks. One snack in particular caught my eye. It was a matcha (green tea) Kit Kat. I couldn’t resist. I bought one for 350 yen (about $3.50) and headed into work. When I returned to my hotel after work I decided to take a look (and taste) the green tea Kit Kat. It was creamy, mildly sweet, and laced with the undeniable perfumed taste of matcha powder. They seem to have induced a craving effect as I can’t seem to stop thinking about it. I will definitely be bringing some of these home for friends and family. They are something special.