Wednesday, March 31

All Things Sweet and Sakura

My husband and I are in Japan to celebrate my birthday. What better way to celebrate than a foodie trip to Tokyo! It's only day two, and I've already discovered a number of great food experiences.

We're very fortunate that our trip coincides with the cherry blossom season, known as hanami. Whilst I was expecting to see all of Tokyo awash with the pink and white water colours of the sakura, I wasn't prepared to also find them in my tea cup and on my plate. The first experience was at a bakery in Ginza, where we were handed samples of sakura tea in small paper cups whilst we browsed the fragrant breads and cookies. The next was at lunch at a well-known soba (thin buckwheat noodle) restaurant, where we found sakura-flavoured soba as a seasonal special. I'd describe the taste as subtle bitter candy (without the sweetness). It was interesting, but I preferred the normal zaru soba, which was perfectly al dente and delicious dipped cold into a soba sauce.

Today was also a day for sweets! It started off with matcha (green tea powder) cookies that we bought in the bakery. These were crunchy and yet so creamy somehow! I imagine it's the result of just the right amount of butter and the fact that green tea powder is so fine. Later, at lunch, we had matcha ice cream with shirata masendai (a ball of rice pastry) and red bean. At dinner, although we didn't have dessert, the sweetness managed to sneak in early, in the form of sukiyaki (thinly sliced beef and vegetables cooked in sweet soy sauce on a hot plate) and shabu shabu (beef and vegetables again, but boiled in a hot clear broth, and dipped in a sweet sesame sauce). Where do I even start?! The sesame dipping sauce contained two kinds of sesame (I imagine black and white), peanuts, sake, ponzu soy sauce and milk. I was previously familiar with beef paired with peanuts, as in beef satay with peanut sauce, a Singaporean/Malaysian staple. But what surprised me was how much sesame complemented beef. Maybe Cinnamon (when she next makes her famous satay sauce for me) might add a little sesame paste in the mix? :)


Truffle (happily munching on matcha cookies)

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