We have a family tradition of trying to watch as many movies on an airplane as possible. From the moment the entertainment system goes on till the flight touches down, you can find any of my 2 brothers and dad glued to a shitty movie. After a long plane ride, the questioning usually goes, “how was the flight… what did you watch?” Recent answers have included such greats as “The Island 2” and “Piranha 3D.” I blame this surrender to intense movie watching had something to do with the fact that we weren’t allowed to watch much TV as kids (only after 5 on Fridays and Saturdays). So it was with little pain that I embarked on the 10 hour flight from Seattle to Tokyo.
I watched 4 movies I think, and landed in Tokyo in a daze. The problem is that I watch those movies instead of sleeping. We met our guide from Intrepid at the airport, waited an hour for train passes and then made the long journey from Narita airport into the actual city. We stumbled into one of those ramen joints where you punch a number in a slot machine to order. A few minutes later you have the Japanese version of fast food (besides the imported chains), a bowl of steaming noodles with freshly cut buckwheat noodles in an umami (and msg) laden broth that tastes like the sea and barbeque in one delicious slurp.
Only a few hours later we got up from our erratic snooze to get in line to see some of the ocean’s most beautiful and endangered fish sold for outrageous prices. I couldn’t understand how much the bluefin tuna were going for, but it was sad to see. Sad and exciting. This auction and the fish market are world renowned and it did not disappoint — It swelled with energy and fish, and I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I couldn’t begin to name all the species of sea life that packed the styrophoam city. As a chef, I wanted to eat, but as an advocate for sustainability I saw plenty that didn’t sit well.
So we had mackerel-like fish for lunch. Grilled over coals. With rice, and pickles, and tea. I know I will be eating some things while in Japan that I wouldn’t in the U.S., but for breakfast on the first morning, it felt good to go with a bottom feeder. We shall see what lunch and dinner bring!