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ordering food, carinderia style in Japan

Krishna and I embarked on a Japanese hanami adventure during this year's sakura season. And we hit a few hilarious road blocks. Here's one of them...


One the morning in Osaka, Krishna and I opted to eat at Matsuya Shinsaibashi, a gyudon restaurant near the famous shopping mall. We didn't know then that the staff only communicated in Japanese... but we were kind of expecting this. What surprised us was the way we had to order food. 

As you enter the restaurant, it is similar to a carinderia with people eating there facing the small kitchen. But unlike the Filipino concept, we couldn't point to the food to order it. We had to go to this touch screen computer, choose what we wanted to eat (by pressing the buttons), and then pay either with cash or with the Suica card. The papers coming out of the machine were then given to the chef so that he could start cooking our meals. It was a fresh concept for me because it was quite efficient albeit cold. I prefer restaurants where I actually talk with the attendants to find out what the restaurant has to offer. Anyway, the food came out a few minutes later, in what looked like a bento box. 

I don't exactly know what I got. All I know is that there's pork there, cut into extremely thin strips and then put on rice; there's vegetables and soup, and a raw egg. Goodness, my brain started firing off alarm bells for Salmonella! And if it couldn't get any weirder, I found out that my meal included a traditional Japanese health food: nattō. It turned out to be fermented soybeans. I didn't know that it's supposed to be mixed with the rice and the viand and the egg... what did I know?! I ate the stuff on its own... and I couldn't think how to describe it in a diplomatic fashion. I mean, it has a very pungent aroma and a bitter taste! And then there's the web; the more the webby material was "fixed", the more tangled it became. I'm sure it's good when eaten the intended way. But since I didn't know what the intended way was, I just ate it on its own. 

Well, thanks to Matsuya, I got a taste of what traditional Japanese food (which I haven't tried in the Philippines) is like. Next time I'm in Japan, I will have to try the sushi. 

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