My Japanese Life

My subbing job as a Japanese teacher is now entering its fourth week. I’m basically fluent by now. I’ve also been eating loads of Japanese food, so me’n’my gut are pretty much ready to immigrate to the land of raw, dead fish. When I go out for Japanese food, I normally get fixated on the idea of sushi before I even consider other options, but recently, Todd and I decided to give teppanyaki(food cooked on an iron grill) a shot. We were at the mall, and were looking for a quick nosh before we went to watch Oz: The Great and Powerful.* Fortunately, Thais are obsessed with all things Japanese, and there was a teppanyaki fast food joint within plain view of the theatre. It was meant to be.

Clearly, this meal will be Xtra fast.

I went for the salmon set, while T-bone got the beef and scallops set. The set meal comes with rice, vegetables, soup, and a mound of garlic. It started off with this:

Seaweed in clear broth

And a mound of rice

And was followed by a plate of bland-looking but super-tasty bean sprouts.

Just glistening with delicious fat.

Then the animal protein hit the grill, and the chef began throwing around the butter/oil/garlic. Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but whenever I see chefs use huge quantities of fat, I feel slightly horrified, but simultaneously extremely excited.

Ready to shovel that fat onto a plate. I think Todd looks like an anxious dog waiting to chow down.

And this beauty is what ended up in front of me:

I could almost lick the screen

Todd also had some tasty treats, although I think my butter soaked salmon definitely won.

Butter beef and butter scallops. Mmmmmmm.

Based on their enthusiastic chopsticking, the couple across from us also really dug their meal.

And I’m sure they’d be super pumped if they knew they were on my blog.

Best of all, the meal happened so fast that we still had enough time to catch our slightly mediocre movie.

The anxious dog is 100% satisfied.

IMG_1947

Just like these puppies on our street.

The teppanyaki was pretty darned tasty, and now I can’t decide whether I prefer fish raw or cooked. Maybe I should get my Japanese students to vote.

*A more fitting title would have been Oz: The bland and pitiful

Foodie Friday: The Pork Noodles That Won My Heart/Gut

When we moved to our little Thai ‘hood back in July, street food was uncharted territory. We were jet-lagged, sweaty, and didn’t speak any Thai, and trying to order from a local stall was a little intimidating. Fortunately, our orientation leaders took pity on us and introduced us to one of our soi’s (street’s) most delectable offerings: bah mee moo, or pork noodles. The noodles didn’t exactly solve our problems – we still woke at odd hours, dripped perspiration on our surroundings, and communicated with grunts – but they made them much easier to bear. We ate them so often in those early days that we had to take a several month hiatus, but lately, we’ve been hitting the bowl once again, and hitting it hard.

Our cute drug noodle dealers

The restaurant has several rows of tables. In these photos, it looks quiet, but on certain evenings, it is hoppin’. On one memorable occasion, we made friends with an intoxicated gentleman who wanted us to have a drink with him. We turned down the offer, so he settled for trying to feed Todd from his own bowl. This involved forming mounds of sticky rice with his dirty hand, and trying to push them into Todd’s mouth. While Todd wasn’t fully appreciative of this effort, I certainly enjoyed it.

A quiet night – boring but hygienic

Every table has a set of condiments. They are covered by a basket to keep the flies away.

Clockwise from left: crushed chillies, sugar, crushed peanuts, fresh chillies

Every table also has a basket of greens. Apparently, flies aren’t so fond of veggies, because the greenery is straight-up al fresco. You never know who’s been rooting through that basket before you…

Thai basil, lettuce, and bean sprouts

The bowl contains noodles, broth, green vegetables, pork strips, dumplings, and fried pork fat. Breathe in the heavenly scent, and garnish at will – I usually add crushed peanuts, dried chillies, and bean sprouts to mine.

It’s so great to have a neighbourhood eatery where you can completely be yourself. Even if that self is a post-workout, unwashed, unshaved, hot mess.

“Who are you referring to?”

6 months into our Thai adventure, we’re sleeping better, sweating slightly less, and speaking a little Thai, but the pork noodles are just as good as ever.