Thursday, October 8, 2009

Food Entry - Matsutake Mushrooms

Please see my photo of a Matsutake (Ma-Tsu-TAH-kay) mushroom here. It's a delicacy of a mushroom, and is harvested only in September and October in Japan. Every year Marc and I go to our favorite tempura restaurant, Mikawa, in Roppongi Hills to experience the Matsutake. It 's a large mushroom, not chewy and somewhat sweet. Tempura is one of those foods that is relative here - it's not fried nearly like it is in the U.S. It's light, sometimes with very little batter, and fried ever-so-gently with low heat. Most often we get the course menu at Mikawa - the dishes just keep coming until they're done serving us. It's called Omakase (oh-mah-kah-say) - chef's suggestions. They always start us off with shrimp, then give us the shrimp heads. (It's surprisingly delicious - popcorn-y) We get squid, fish, the special (sometimes the Matsutake, sometimes some other delicacy) and then yasai - veggies. We finish with Kakiage (kah-ki-AH-gay), which is several items - fish and veggies tempura-ed together in a ball then served either in soup (as Marc likes it) or over rice (as I like it) with soup on the side. They always serve pickles and beans in sweet jelly for dessert. It is the perfect meal graciously served by the chef as we sit at the counter. This is the branch restaurant of their main one but it is staffed by some of the loveliest and tradititional women we have met in Tokyo. They are always telling us of some event or another that is in Tokyo when we're there. We are greeted like family when we arrive - and they keep the sake flowing. One time we complimented the sake server and cups that they gave us, and they always remember it and give us the same cups when we arrive. (The restaurant, like most traditional ones, serve with an eclectic mix of table-ware - nothing truly matching.) A visit to Mikawa and the Matsutake celebreates the autumn for us.