Saturday, January 03, 2009

Happy New Year!

Japanese people aren't religious folks but come New Years we put our faith in the auspicious snapper fish, also known as tai. Reason being, "O-me-de-tai" means "happy occasion," and since the tai is in there you're supposed celebrate happy days with a snapper. Umm yeah, it's a stretch; undoubtedly some Tsukiji fishermonger was looking to make a sale.


So there's the real fish and then there's the red bean cake shaped like a fish. It's called a tai-yaki and I found them grilling on a hot plate in San Francisco's J-town over my New Years vacation. It being the first time I'd been to the Norcal neighborhood I found the area charmingly old school with bits of nouveau Japanese flair. Next door was a crepe shop run by husky Japanese men I could've sworn I saw in a yakuza movie. Across the way was a store that sold nothing but car air fresheners.

On New Years eve, Mifune was my best option for carrying out those other deeply ingrained traditions. I had a hot bowl of soba (eat it and you'll live forever, I swear) topped with chicken and egg flower.
I sped back home on New Years day because my grannies were preparing a feast. Without me, it would've been just them and enough food to feed an entire nursing home, so I got there as fast as I could. Here was the menu:

The auspicious inari sushi...

the auspicious seki-han...

the questionably auspicious oden...

the somewhat auspicious but very obligatory plate of kamaboko,
sweet egg cake, yokan, shrimp and boiled vegetables...

a hot pot of healthy goodness...

...and the Super highly auspicious and very delicious snapper fish.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!


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In other news...

Mitsuwa in Little Tokyo is closing Jan. 25 ;;

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5 comments:

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Oooh, the taiyaki look so cute. Mifune was where I dined on my first visit to Japantown too. That was a long time ago!

Todd said...

We used to eat a lot of those traditional foods when my grandparents (father's side) were alive, but sadly we don't anymore. However, it doesn't preclude us from getting fat on New Year's anyway.

Marie said...

What a lovely feast to celebrate the new year. I am particularly drawn to the inari! Definitely one of those foods I enjoy eating, but not making (okay, admittedly, I've never made them).

Gastronomer said...

Oooh, Inari. My fave! What's your thought on all you can eat at Midori??

Inland Empirical said...

I've had oshogatsu food at your gran's house. I will vouch for its quality.