plate

Teddy bear is sitting down for spaghetti lunch in front of liquor store

I love the many inexplicable sights in Tokyo. My neighborhood liquor store set up this strange lunch scene in front of their shop: teddy bear, a plate of spaghetti with fork suspended in the air, a potted flower, and an empty seat as if he’s expecting company. It’s lovely that this “mise-en-scene” has nothing to do with what’s being sold at the store. A pure folly!

Two meals: Japanese and “Western-style”

Sama fish at Hinaya Youshoku hamburger in Ginza

I don’t often post photos of food, but I liked the presentation of both these meals. And they are oddly different and alike. Above is sanma (さんま), a fish dish at Hinaya, our favorite izakaya in Nakano. Served whole, the fish was delicious with a simple lime and radish garnish. The fish is translated into English as “saury.”

At the bottom is a hamburger lunch at a Ginza restaurant that specializes in “Western-style” food, or youshoku (洋食). Youshoku are dishes that any post-war Japanese instantly associates with foreigners, yet they are so thoroughly Japan-icized so that they become simultaneously familiar and exotic to us foreigners.

Note that the hamburger is served without a bun, one perfect watercress garnishes the baked potato, the mustard has its own ceramic holder, and the whole meal is served on a cast iron pan. But the best part is the soy sauce in the white dish, which is meant to be combined with the grated radish and green onion as a dipping sauce.

I was also reminded of the difference between regular “rice”– called gohan (ご飯)– and “ra-i-su” (ライス).  The same substance but the former is in a bowl, while the latter is flattened out on a plate, and considered more Western-style.