The day we finally managed to get a taste of the famous Unagi from that restaurant. We had learnt the key to getting a seat there. The chef had told us the last time, try to come around 9am when they open the restaurant to start preparations. If we say our names, they’ll make a mental note of it and then we can come back at 11:30am when the restaurant officially opens.
So 9am sharp we were at the restaurant waiting. The things we Gaijin do for food. 😉 We had gotten out of the studio at around 8.30 and trekked down to town. The chef didn’t arrive immediately at 9. Perhaps around 9.15. We watched as he sat in his parked van enjoying an early morning smoke. Perhaps trying to escape from us persistent foreigners. 😉 Eventually we managed to greet him and instead of saying any of our names, we used the powerful name of Kasen. He nodded and told us to come back around 11:20 later.
We walked to the nearby Pottery Shrine in search for the Pottery Gods we could pray to. Found a whole row of Lion/Dog mini figurines by the side and we were wondering initially what they were for. One of the staff explained to us that those were called Komainu 狛犬 and are actually the Lion-Dog hybrids commonly seen outside shrines. Legend has it that man believed to have founded pottery in Seto, 陶祖藤四郎, Toushiro, made these Komainu statues as offerings to the shrine in gratitude for successful kiln firings. The idea was that we could buy two from the shrine, write our wish on a piece of paper provided, put it into one, and take the other back with us for fulfilment of our wish. V said it was a nice idea, almost like being able to take a small piece of Seto back with us. I loved that idea immediately.
There’s my little Koma-inu right in the middle on the bottom row. I had taken a longer time writing out my Ceramic wish, so during that time M and V had placed their Koma-inus among the pack. When I got there, there was no space left and I had to start a new row. 😉 I do wonder if they did it on purpose though, allowing my Koma-inu to have a brand new start to the row?
We then made it finally for the legendary Unagi. And legendary indeed, it was.
Live Unagi killed, skewered and grilled all right in front of our eyes. As fresh as you could ask for.
Pretty much the best damned Unagi I had ever eaten in my life. I’m not usually a huge Unagi fan because the one’s I’ve tried before simply have too much thick sweet sauce lathered over and the meat tends to be too tough/bones too much blah blah… but this one was so soft, juicy, tender… you name it. Went down so easily. Completely worth the wait and the early morning arrival to book our seat.
When we got back we helped Sensei set up his veranda area for the weekend’s Pottery Neighborhood Festival. It was fun, bringing out lots of his old stock from their boxes, arranging them on makeshift shelves, trying to create some sort of order from everything. Interesting too, to see the sort of designs that he used to create, the style of which could be quite different from his current works.
Since Mother’s Day was on Sunday when most of the shops would be closed, we got Sensei’s mum some carnations, as they signify gratitude and love, commonly given to Mothers on Mothers’ Day in Japan.
Then, came the breakthrough of my first tea pot…ever!! So grateful to M-san who really guided me in putting all the pieces together. There is actually a technique to figuring out the symmetry of the pieces such as the handle and spout and sticking it on properly. The other tool that really helped was this slender sharp knife that she taught me to use to cut the clay to stick the sieve and spout on. Lots of weird mistakes I made but none too serious that I couldn’t put the teapot together. Felt so great finally accomplishing something new.
A great (but extremely tiring) day all in all. 😉 Went straight to bed and K.Oed.