For those who refuse wasabi out of a tube

When I travel to Japan I eat wasabi every day. On a recent trip I spent some time on the Izu Peninsula, where a lot of wasabi is grown, and there the restaurants provide one with a piece of wasabi and a grater. It is, essentially, left as an exercise for the customer.

But what an exercise it is! Freshly grated wasabi is always more fun to eat than prepared versions. And with a milder taste, one can be quite liberal in its consumption and application.

One always has wasabi with cold soba. The meal shown below, as reported to me by my dining companion, was “the most enjoyable soba I have had to date.” I must say, it was an attractive presentation, and the prominent wasabi on the tray adds a lot of flair to the meal.

When on the Izu Peninsula, that freshly grated wasabi can be used on a lot of foods.

It goes particularly well with soft cream. Yes, that is really freshly grated wasabi. Like I said, a milder taste.

The previous day I’d had wasabi gelato. That was also quite good. Pickled wasabi greens. Superb. Fibrous. And the flavor would be enhanced, and was enhanced, with a bit more freshly grated wasabi.

What other nice foods have I enjoyed? On my recent trip, I arrived to Fukuoka and spent a week at the KBC Augusta tournament. There were a lot of bento lunches, but also the classic Fukuoka dishes. Mentaiko. Tonkotsu ramen. And more mentaiko. Omelets filled with mentaiko. Bread infused with mentaiko.

As I was leaving, I had one more bowl of tonkotsu ramen at the Fukuoka airport.

Then it was off to the mountains of central Japan, with plenty of mountain vegetables. And things from trees. Nuts and seeds. Fried kombu. Texture of bark. But very good.

Also in the mountains, I had an extraordinary premium grape soft cream (not pictured). More good things were found at the ANA lounge at Narita. Namely, this selection of sake from Okayama prefecture.

Then it was back to Thailand, where despite the signs, I’ve actually found the service staff to be polite enough.

And after Japan, it is nice to have some Thai food. People sometimes ask me about curries and other dishes, and which are my favorite Thai foods. I think the food that I eat in Thailand won’t always be found on restaurant menus outside of Thailand. But like the freshly grated wasabi, it doesn’t come from a tube, or can, but is pretty much real food, and delicious. This som tam thai was a lot spicier than the wasabi, by the way.

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