Day 3: The Day of Firsts.
October 19 2007, Friday.
We started out the day with a delightful traditional Japanese breakfast. Sitting down in a very quiet restaurant on the second floor of the hotel, it was a nice change from the usual spread and boisterous crowd we get from the buffet at the cafe… save for the Mainland Chinese tourist behind us who was talking so loudly down his mobile I think the person he was speaking with could actually hear him from where he was.
I dragged my parents to Shinjuku, telling them very mysteriously that there was something there that I just HAD to buy home or I would regret it very much. However, unable to control my excitement, I blurted it out to them while we were on the train. Both of them looked at me skeptically. “Is it really that good? Better than the ones back home?” I nodded sagely.
When we arrived at the place, they were both surprised at the queue that was snaking its way outside the entrance of the store. Triumphantly, I pointed to the right of the small building, where a bridge was. Another straight line of people, a continuation from the queue in front. Don’t you just love Japanese and their crowd-control intelligence? We stood in the pleasant cold for about half an hour before we almost reached the front of the line. Then, unannounced, a staffer holding a huge tray stepped out through the doors and politely handed us each a piping hot Original Glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut, and apologized to us for having to wait. I didn’t think any of us in the queue were complaining at all.
We had them for lunch, and brought home the rest with plenty to spare.
Dinner was an extravagant affair. “Let’s have a lavish dinner tonight”, my dad said generously when we were deciding where to go for dinner after walking around Shinjuku. We walked, probably the length of 200 football fields, asked for directions three times, and got totally drenched in the rain, before we finally reached the restaurant my dad was looking for.
It was a restaurant specializing in Fugu (Pufferfish). We each ordered the full course, which includes: Yubiki, a salad made from the skin of the fish, with its spikes removed, of course; Fugu Sashi, or Sashimi; Fugu Kara-age, which means deep-fried; Fugu Nabe, sort of like a steamboat; Fugu porridge, where rice is poured into the remaining stock after we’ve finished the Nabe; and finally Fugu Ice-cream. No, I’m just kidding. It’s Vanilla.
Fugu in its raw form tastes like very tender squid, bland and rather chewy in texture. Its cooked form, though, reminds me of frogs’ legs. When we got back to the hotel room, my mum started complaining of nausea. That got my dad worried. Fugu poisoning can be fatal. But I knew it was just indigestion; fugu is so commonly consumed now some restaurants actually prepare them in such a way that a little bit of poison is left on the flesh so that it leaves a prickly feeling on the lips and tongue.
After much farting and burping, and finally a visit to the bathroom, my mother was fine again.