Are We Supposed to Eat That?

I know I’ve regaled you with tales of my delicious adventures with sushi in Japan and Hawaii. It is, I will argue until I die, one of the best dishes around.

This will not be that sort of tale.

Part of our stay at the Hotel Makoto in Miyajima was to include two traditional Japanese experiences: taking a dip in a public onsen – or hot spring – and having a traditional meal in a traditional tatami room – kimono included!

Room in Hotel Makoto

Photo courtesy of tripadvisor

I was especially excited about the traditional meal. Miyajima, in addition to being known for it’s floating torii and sacred deer is also known for their oysters which they often serve fried.

I thought the south laid claim to originating all fried food but, here in the old east, I learn differently.

Fried oysters. Raw fish. Tofu. Miso. Sake. All with chopsticks while sitting on your knees.

What could possible go wrong?

To be honest all of those things listed were perfectly delicious.

It was the other 12 dishes on our plate that we had no clue about that posed a problem.

I’m not meaning that we didn’t know what kind of fish it was or what type of sauce something was.

I mean it was literally unidentifiable to our gaijin eyes.

miyajima meal

(Unfortunately, we took zero pictures of our meal as we had both forgotten our camera’s chargers back in Kyoto…thanks Google images!)

Is it a custard? With clams in it?

This looks like Styrofoam – are we supposed to eat that? It could be here for decoration…I’m going for it.

Yep. Styrofoam.

It was border line embarrassing. We were thankful that the meal was served in the privacy of our room but man do I wish someone had put in a camera to capture the utter confusion that was on our faces as we encountered each dish.

The plating is absolutely gorgeous. Each dish comes in it’s own little beautifully decorated container. The evening air was blowing in our window and we could hear a random sacred deer walk by every now and then. In all a wonderful and romantic evening.

Our constant refrain “are we supposed to eat that” was followed by many “you first, no you! I insist!” as we powered our way through the meal.

All I can say is – thank goodness for the big bowl of perfectly steamed rice and miso soup! Otherwise we may have been hunting bambi…and I can’t imagine the Miyajima locals would’ve been too happy with us.

After scouring the internet for photos of our culinary adventure I stumbled upon this helpful diagram. Too bad I didn’t find it before hand, it would’ve been quite handy…though I’m still not sure where the custard with clams came from…there certainly was no Nabemono involved in ours.

japanese meal diagram

The next morning we eagerly went downstairs for breakfast. I was feeling brave and ordered the Japanese style breakfast. Adam went for what he thought was the safer option of a Western style breakfast…and was confronted with the need to cook his own egg and slice of ham over a crucible and candle.


Apparently, according to Hotel Makoto, Westerners love dinner rolls for breakfast (tripadvisor photo)


I at least knew what to expect from my meal this time: tofu. Grilled fish. Miso soup. Rice. Yes, for breakfast.

And I had learned to not eat the styrofoam.


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  1. Sweet! Love eating in Japan. Had some experience on the island of Amami, no body spoke English so it was point to something on the menu and hope!!!!!

    1. It was a lot of fun! This was the only ‘bust’ in terms of meals – everything else was quite delicious!

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