Saturday, June 30, 2012


When we got back to Kyoto from Hiroshima, we needed to lighten the mood a little bit, so we walked through the trendy/cute area between Sanjo and Shijo west of the river.  It reminded me a lot of Nolita, in NYC, and it was probably a good thing for my wallet that most of the stores were closed.  Even more of the ground floor spaces had been converted to boutiques than the last time I visited, but I was very happy to see my street-food izakaya guy was still doing well.

Eventually we got to our destination: Bar Yoramu.  Run by an western expat (Israeli? we couldn't get a good read, and he was very mysterious) who fell in love with Japan, Japanese culture, and sake, it's a treat to visit.  The fact that the store is a hand-made soba noodle shop by day, and a whatever-the-equivalent-of-micro-brew-is-for-sake bar by night I think means the space is steeped in foodie fetishism.  Which means that it wasn't a wild night out, but it was a fantastic way to taste unusual, delicious sakes with someone who is only too happy to explain what is unique about what you're drinking.  (And how to drink it.)  We tried some more "standard" ones...

Some more "unusual" ones...

which I definitely found challenging, tasting as they did like sweat, and feet.  Um, I meant they tasted earthy.  Yeah.

And because we were there, and the bottles were there, and because all sorts of things start to seem like a good idea after 6 glasses of sake, we tried three more.

Which actually turned out to be a great choice, because the blue bottle on the right, which tasted distinctly of apples, was my favorite.  So if anyone reading this can decipher the label and help me try to track down my own bottle, I would be hugely grateful.  Otherwise I might just have to go back.

We also tried fried mochi, which was nothing like the stuff wrapped on the outside of the balls of green tea ice cream I used to buy at Berkeley Bowl, and yuba, which I learned is the soy-milk equivalent of that skin that forms on the top boiled milk that used to so freak me out.

[Allow me to digress: when I was 9, we spent Christmas in Mexico City, which considering it was 1989, and my younger sister was only 6 means the trip was more adventurous and exotic than it sounds today.  And although I do have memories of the lights on the plaza, the impressive amount of gold leaf on the inside of the cathedral,

and the cardinals in their pointy hats, what I remember MOST vividly is going out with my parents for hot milk and pastries after midnight mass.  Since I was raised a non-believer, with a dash of cultural Judaism, you'd think the mass would've impressed me.  Or even just the fact that I'd been allowed to stay up so far past my bedtime.  Nope.  What really sticks in my mind is the trauma of getting milk that! had! something! floating! on! the! top!  I don't know how my parents didn't wring my neck.]

You might be pleased to learn, after that sidebar, that the yuba was bland but quite nice.  And the mochi was lovely, but so too were the snacks we procured at 7-Eleven on the way back to the hotel.  Because after 9 glasses of sake, everything seems like a good idea.  Even convenience store fish.  Even a King Size Cup of Noodles!

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