Food for thought

I was on a business trip back to the States last week. It truly was a business trip because I didn’t go home to LA, and I went to a city that I had never been to before. The trip made me realize that I am glad that I really enjoy Japanese food. I struck out most every night at restaurants, eating on my own. The first night I HAD to get Mexican, because that is what I miss the most. There was a Mexican restaurant near where I was staying, and people had warned me that it was very chain-esque and not that good. Even the chain restaurants in LA are marginally OK, and I figured after almost a year in Japan they would seem 5-star. Nope. I should have listened to their advice. It was pretty bad. I would describe the delicate spices as a lot of pepper.

The second night I met a colleague and we decided to go to a French restaurant that is supposed to be open in the evenings. We assumed the locked door that we faced indicated it was closed. Instead we went to Indian. Here in Nagoya, we have some very good Indian restaurants so I have my opportunities to eat Indian. The food was good, certainly better than the night before.

The third night I was able to visit a family friend and get a home cooked meal. Ah, that was the best of all. We made our own burritos and the food had flavor and we had a good time together. That was a meal.

The fourth night I really wanted to get to a neighborhood that was a little hipper than the exburbia location where I was working and staying. I can’t complain too much because fortunately I was able to find an Apple Store at the exburbia big hair mall and pick up more Apple stuff (Apple TV this time), like I need anything more from Apple. I got in my rental minivan and drove to downtown looking for a good alternative bookstore. As luck would have it, I stumbled across a great bookstore and left with 9 new books. That should keep me busy. I also wanted US style Thai food – you know the really good strip mall variety that is great tasting even if the décor leaves something to be desired. Well, I found a restaurant where the décor certainly left something to be desired. The problem is, the food did too. Wow, I didn’t know you could screw up Thai food, but they did.

Finally, the last night, my colleagues wanted to have a special night meeting, and we ended up a McCormick & Schmick’s esque place and dined on appetizers. This is considered to be a good restaurant, but I found all the food to be over sauced and lacking subtlety. Sigh.

At work, a large group of Japanese colleagues were also around, working in the production area. I noticed that already they were starting to bring in Japanese food that they had made and would share, or they were ordering bento boxes from a faraway Japanese restaurant. In the past I would have been appalled (just as I am here were American’s order McDonald’s en masse), wondering why they couldn’t adapt to the local cuisine and not be stuck in the traditional food ways? But now I get it – both ways. There are Americans here in Japan that simply cannot stand Japanese food. They are the same ones that told me all the good steak houses to go to on my trip. Then there are Japanese that can’t imagine the food so many Americans eat – the heavy sauces, the outlandish portions. It is just easier to stick to what you know.

As for me, I guess I just wanted food that tasted good. It didn’t have to be Japanese, but then again I wasn’t looking for the hamburger and steak everyone was recommending. OK, sure, if I was in LA In-n-Out, Astroburger, or Islands would have been a destination, but that’s comfort food.

Sorry, once again no pictures. A new season (Valentine’s Day) is upon us, so maybe I’ll get some good, goofy engrish pictures.