b Happy Sumo Food Journal: July 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

THE SHED - Ocean Springs, MS

The Shed is known amongst the locals as being one of the best BBQ places in the area. It's just north of interstate 10, but you'd think you were in the deepest south as the restaurant is in a wooded area and you imagine hearing banjo music.

I ordered the ribs/chicken combo, with cole slaw and potato salad as sides. Both meats were overcooked, especially the ribs. The sides were average, nothing more. I don't know if we caught them on an off-night (it was a Saturday), but if this was the best bbq in the area, then I truly feel sorry for the local residents.

Overall rating - 2 sumos


This restaurant is located in Nihonbashi. The owner's son and my cousin's husband went to school together. With that kind of connection, I made this the celebratory last meal of my trip.

This area is fairly quiet at night, and the restaurant only stayed open until 9:30. Usually that's plenty late for me, but my friend had a full night planned. This was a great way to start. Got the omakase, or Chef's choice. These are just pictures of my plates. They brought us one per person, so we had six plates between the two of us!

The specialty at Yoshino is baby clam sushi. It was really good. Very tender and flavorful. The food just kept coming and coming. I don't know if this was the norm, or if we got special treatment. That's what I'm thinking. We had so much food I was stuffed, and I never get full on just sushi and sashimi.

Below from left to right is: top - salmon eggs, tamago (egg), squid, bonito, middle - flounder, maguro (tuna) , toro (fatty tuna), hamachi (yellowtail), bottom - tekkamaki, hamachi, ebi (shrimp), and unagi (eel).

I don't remember how much it cost. Another friend joined us and I think we had a total of three beers. With all that food and the beers I think it was around $80, a bargain considering everything we got.

Overall rating - 4 sumos


I couldn't go all the way to Japan without visiting the famous Tsukiji fish market. Apparently one used to be able to view the fresh tuna auction, which takes place at 5:30 am. I understand that tourists aren't allowed to view the auction anymore.

That makes sense to me. The first thing I thought when I got there was that the entire market should be off limits to tourists. It's a place of work, and I did not feel comfortable wandering through there. With such narrow passages, even though I tried to be conscious of the workers, there just isn't enough room to keep from getting in their way.

I tried to get up early, but I didn't get there until 7:00 am. By then, the activity was winding down. I can't imagine how busy it must be earlier in the day.


I went to this restaurant on the way back from Kiyomizu Temple. It's either on Kiyomizu-zaka or Chawan-zaka. I was starving. I should have eaten before I went to the temple. That's my problem when I'm sightseeing. I want to see as much as I can and often end up eating at odd hours wherever I happen to be.

Anyhow, the prices were right and I needed some good old japanese comfort food.

I got the omelet with fried rice inside, with "ketchup sauce."

900 yen, about $7.50 US. I think it was the cheapest meal I had in Japan. I don't know if it was because I was starving, but this really hit the spot. Nothing like fried rice and eggs!

Overall rating - 3 sumos

OMEN - Kyoto

This restaurant was recommended by my guidebook for its vegetable udon. It's located right off Shijo-dori in central Kyoto, on Gokomachi. It's amazing that right off this busy street, you step into another world, like you've just walked into a country inn.

They did not have an english menu, and luckily for me, there was a sole employee would could speak english, which was light years more advanced than my japanese.

I used to love udon as a kid, but haven't eaten it in years. Here they serve it deconstructed, you take the udon noodles and dip them in the sauce, accompanied by vegetables. It was good, for udon, but it was just udon, you know? A bit bland.

I knew that wasn't going to fill me up, so I ordered tempura also. I thought it would be a side dish, but it cost the same as a regular meal. The tempura was very good. I think each dish was about $11, so the total bill was $22.

Overall rating - 3 sumos


This is a chain of ramen shops. We went to the one in the Omotesando shopping district, near the Harajuku station. Apparently, there are multiple styles of ramen. Who knew? I grew up on the dried kind, four for a buck in the soup aisle.

I believe this one specializes in Hakata-style, pork bone broth, which produces a rich, dense, flavorful base. Not at all like the powdered stuff that comes in the supermarket ramen. My friend took me here. He's an expat from LA who has lived in Tokyo for about five years now.

If I ever had a picture in my head of a typical ramen shop in Tokyo, it would have looked exactly like this. That's something I love about traveling, you walk into a place like this and you get a snapshot of the culture in a meal.

They have an english menu. We got the 1A, kind of like getting a burger with everything. I think it was 980 yen, about $8.30 US. As you can see, it's cash only, something I found more often than not in most of the restaurants here.

They have all kinds of options, for example you can order an extra serving of noodles for a marginal cost (usually 90 or 100 yen) - less than a buck. Yep, that's what we did. As soon as they brought our bowls out, we ordered up another serving of noodles. You can also order extra broth if you run out.

There's all kinds of condiments on the counter for you to dress up your ramen. I added garlic and pickled ginger to mine. That's seasoned "spicy" cod roe submerged at 3 o'clock in the bowl. I'm not quite sure how they make it spicy, and I don't really want to know. Definitely an acquired taste...and texture.

Overall rating - 3.5 sumos

Friday, July 27, 2007


This restaurant is located in the basement of the Daimaru department store, next to the Tokyo train station. We came here for lunch because it was near the office. There were a ton of restaurants here, so we just picked one and went inside.

As you can see from the picture, the menu was all Japanese. So we had to go to Plan B - point at the plastic food models in the front display case.

This being my second meal in Japan, I had to get the tempura lunch. It was damn good. The tempura batter was very light, almost ethereal. This is how all tempura should be. The bowl in the upper right of the photo below was chawanmushi, or egg custard. Now this was another first for me. I didn't realize that this was a savory dish, not a sweet custard. Thinking it was, I saved it for last. The custard is opaque, and has bits of meat, seafood and whatnot suspended in the custard. I bit into something that had an extremely fishy taste - tasted like Long Beach. I think it may have been an eyeball. I'll never know, and that's probably a good thing.

Overall rating - 3.5 sumos