- 16 June 1999
16 June 1999 – Several Mercedes colleagues Hajime Saburi, Kintaro Ueno and Miwa Ohuchi took us to Ima-ham, a typical beef Japanese restaurant. Inside there were many traditional low tables on tatami mats with pillows for seating, but our hosts, conscious of our Western ways, booked our table in a room that had a sunken floor under the table so our feet could hang.
The meal began with sushi and Japanese beer. After the first course, the others moved to sake, but I stayed with the beer only sipping the sake occasionally. (I enjoy sake that tastes soft like wine, not strong like liquor, which this did.)
Then we ate ayu, a grilled fish complete with head and eyes looking at me as I devoured the meat of the body. The ayu tasted light, like a North Carolina perch or flounder. Then a young woman wearing a traditional kimono entered our private room and grilled the beef, onions, carrots, mushrooms and other vegetables for our dinner. Along with these foods, which were cooked in a soy sauce base, ofu (a kind of gluten bread) was soaked and served.
When the cooking was complete, the food was served in bowls half-full of a raw egg mixture, which is supposed to ‘soften’ the strong taste of the soy sauce. Not liking eggs unless they are cooked for a very long time, this made my dish less than popular. So I opted to move my food directly into my rice bowl, leaving as little raw egg on the meat and vegetables as possible. This worked and did not offend our hosts. My meal turned out to be scrumptious, as was Jim’s who ate each serving with glee. In fact, our group was the last table to leave the restaurant, so evidently we all enjoyed our evening filled with food and conversations about Tokyo, Japan, Germany and Mercedes.