Nara, Japan

  • Date
  • 9 June 1999

9 June 1999- Lunch at Harishin, located down a narrow lane in Old Nara. Harishin serves traditional Japanese boxed bento lunches inside a 200-year old house with cream-colored walls inside and a dark wood façade outside. Once inside, we left our shoes at the door as Japanese custom demands and entered a room filled with low tables, tatami mats and thin wide pillows, serving as chairs. Just outside the dining area, there was a beautiful green garden. The restaurant’s bento offering changes according to the foods in season. We began with a strawberry-wine aperitif and a small bowl of white tofu, which had a slight hint of sesame. Then black lacquered bento boxes arrived with soup, steamed rice, green tea, tempura of shrimp and potato, bite-size morsels of beef wrapped around asparagus, pork, octopus and pumpkin. Another very small dish held pickles and cucumbers. When finished, we pressed the electric button notifying our server that we needed attention, and immediately two ladies brought us small dishes of light green melon topped with a couple of sour cherries. The melon may have been the ripest, sweetest melon to ever touch my lips. Since almost all fruits are imported into Japan, I found this pretty ironic.