Japan is the country with the most Michelin Guide “Three Star” restaurants, more than France. Osaka is in the center of the Kansai area, where there is a seeming consensus, Osaka is the food capital of Japan.
My first night I find myself in what could be considered the food capital of the world, I am turned away at my first choice, a Yakitori restaurant. It’s full.
I move along to a tiny Shabu Shabu (しゃぶしゃぶ”) restaurant in the heart of the city. Most of the restaurants in this area of narrow winding streets hold at most 20 people.
Shabu-Shabu is a hot pot kind of meal, with thinly sliced meat with vegetables. The name is an onomatopoeia, the sound made when stirring.
A number of bowls of freshly cut meats, vegetables, dipping sauce and rice comprise the meal.
I follow the example of those around me, cooking the meat a few minutes, then, dipping it into the sauce bowl provided. A second small container of sauce with a heavy garlic odor is provided as a condiment. It is wonderful with its delightful kick.
All of the staff are superbly polite and both the food and the service is par excellence. I am thoroughly pleased. In my halting Japanese, I thank the proprietor “oishii deshita.”
Later I realize I made a basic grammatical error. The phrase should have been oishikata des. In Japanese, the adjectives (oishii) are conjugated. He ignored my error and shared my joy of the meal.
I have a scolding coming from Sensei Nicholson upon my return.
Still, I have had a wonderful meal.