Monthly Archives: October 2015

How to avoid food culture shock in Japan

Grilled chicken breast cartilage (photo by 挪威 企鵝)

Grilled chicken breast cartilage (photo by 挪威 企鵝)

Out the window, sparsely populated luscious green mountains and valleys streamed by giving the impression we had left Japan.

“Do you like meat,” asked Yasu my Japanese friend who was driving.

“I love meat. There isn’t much I can’t eat,” I boasted remembering my breakfast of smelly natto fermented soybeans.

We soon arrived at a small shop in the countryside. The shop, a Japanese owned Chinese restaurant, was a local institution serving the Kubokawa pork that was so famous in the region. We seated ourselves at a Japanese table so close to the ground I could barely fold my legs under it.

“Give us two full set menus and some of the raw as well,” ordered Yasu.

The waitress balanced a flat iron griddle on top of a portable gas burner. Although my mouth had been salivating at the idea of eating grilled pork chops, I froze when I saw the food coming out of the kitchen. The dark brown liver was sliced sashimi style and served over a salty citrus sauce. The honeycomb intestine was also served raw with a spicy sesame oil. On the grill, sizzled a sectioned heart, curly intestine and unidentifiable fat coated organ meat. Food culture shock is real. Here is what to expect when eating out in Japan.

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