We’re turning Japanese

In food, shopping on 01/04/2009 at 9:12 am

We love Japan.

1. The people are obsessed about food, always a plus

2. Udon and its skinnier brethren (the only real good QQ udon is the frozen kind, which you flash cook just until the strands separate, of which we always buy at Tokyo Mart, formerly Tongyin Mart, in Manhattan Chinatown)

3. Sushi, the top grade stuff we can’t afford in the midtown enclaves that businessmen patronize; the affordable places are usually owned by Chinese and offer the all-you-can-eat option feature watery and rubbery eraser chunks

4. Natto (ok, maybe we don’t really like it yet, it’s definitely an acquired taste)

5. Masaharu Morimoto (is there anything better than the real Japanese version of Iron Chef with the cheeky voiceover and the master churning out his incredibly forward-thinking fusion that crushes any opponent in terms of creativity and mind-boggling-ness?)

6. Donguri – Our all-time favorite place to blow our paycheck, a teeny tiny place on the Upper East side that serves homestyle Japanese cuisine, which is a richer gustatory experience than the usual dainty bento boxes. We stumbled upon it when we were walking in the ‘hood several years ago and googled it. It’s actually part of the Ito-En (Tea’s Tea, Sencha Shot) empire now. They took it over when the former chef decided to move back to Japan, who incidentally, was a friend of a friend. That was the same fate of our former soba place, Honmura-An. Ito-En has a showplace above their tea shop on Madison Ave called Kai, where we once dined; but dining area was too open and the vibe was too formal for us. The omakase was also not very inventive, though the dishes themselves were quite pretty. What we love at Donguri – grilled amberjack fish heads and shiso leaf rice.

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