Video bites: Sizzling sukiyaki in Japan

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By Aya Nishihara
Special to Frolic Hawaii

ayaleslieAya Leslie is a Los Angeles native who enjoys great food and Crossfit workouts. Working in restaurants for many years exposed her to different ingredients and preparations, deepening her interest in trying new things and cooking at home. Check her out on Instagram (@aya.leslie) to see her restaurant meals, prepared dinners and Crossfit personal records.

Japan 2017: belated honeymoon, one-year wedding anniversary and my 32nd birthday celebration, all rolled into one trip. This was also my husband Pa‘a’s first time out of the country. Planning was done by my mother, who’s from Nagoya, and my request to her was to keep us off the tourist track: I wanted to eat where Japanese locals love to go!

We covered a lot of ground and ate amazing food (you’ll see in my next video). In the end, what was Pa‘a’s favorite meal? Sukiyaki. This was also his first time trying sukiyaki, and it was amazing.

This video was shot at a beef restaurant called Mishima Tei in Teramachi Sanjo in Kyoto. Mishima Tei has been around since 1873 (that’s 144 years ago!). The restaurant is very traditional with the servers wearing kimono. Each table has its own grill and your server cooks for the table.

Here’s our delicious sukiyaki experience.

The special beef they serve is called kuroge wagyu, directly translated as black hair wagyu. I thought I would have to ask for a knife, but as you can imagine when you see all that marbling, the beef was so tender, no knife necessary!

Kyoto has traditional vegetables called kyo yasai — kyo for Kyoto, yasai for vegetable (Japanese is super easy, right??) Kyo yasai are unique in shape, vivid in color and rich in nutrients, but also expensive. In the pan you see kyo takenoko (bamboo shoot), fukinoto (giant butterbur or bog rhubarb, a bitter wild mountain vegetable), renkon (lotus root) and kujo negi (long green onions.)

Fun (weird) fact: One thing Pa‘a and I learned is that fine-dining restaurants in Japan do not serve rice with your meal. They serve it to you at the end with some pickled vegetables (as if that’s your palate cleanser or dessert?). We thought that was weird. I asked our friends and they said that because people are typically drinking during dinner, they don’t want to get full with rice. That makes sense, but who wouldn’t want a bowl of hot white rice with their sukiyaki???

But then again, maybe if it’s not offered till the end, you’ll be too full to eat it, eliminating the extra carbs. The sukiyaki dinner was melt-in-your-mouth delicious and a great dining experience.

Note: Mishima Tei only has course menus: hana (flower) course for ¥20,790 or about $190, tsuki (moon) for ¥14,850 or about $135, and hiru (lunch) for ¥7,722 or $70. We enjoyed the moon!

Mishima Tei (三嶋亭)
405 Sakurano-machi, Teramachi-dori Sanjo-sagaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto