Posts tagged ‘sweet and savory’

January 7th, 2012

When size meets taste…

A friend of my husband’s sent him this photo.

It’s a hammered pork sandwich from a restaurant in Las Vegas called Hash House a go go.  What made a mere sandwich so noteworthy?  The plate is as big as 3 adult faces!  On a recent trip to Japan, this one picture helped bridge the language gap as my non-Japanese speaking husband was able to ‘wow’ my Japanese friends and family with it, as they marveled at the sandwich’s size.   Both amused and appalled, Japanese people already think American portion sizes are huge, but this picture was beyond their imaginations.  Immediately, they asked if this was something we ate in the States everyday.  I knew the answer they wanted to hear, was ‘yes’, as that pretty much goes in line with how they already picture America–huge EVERYTHING, but the answer, as you could guess is a realistic ‘no’.  Sure, compared to Japanese food, American portions are usually twice as big, but to find truly huge portions like that, you have to do a bit of searching.

When we were in Las Vegas, my husband suggested we go to Hash House a go go, for breakfast.  I was reluctant because usually the best part of a big portioned meal is its size and not its flavor.  Also, call me a snob, but who’d believe a restaurant found in a dingy casino on the strip would be good?  As we walked over, I was thinking, “There are many, many great places to eat in Vegas, but marriage is a give and take.”  Since he took me to a four star restaurant the day before, I should let the next meal choice be his, right?  My stomach clenched in horror as I realized that my next stop would be home to something I’m still learning to appreciate, big portioned, hearty American food.

Talk about surprises!  Oh my goodness.  Fried Chicken with bacon (!!) waffles, where the waffles and chicken were bigger than an adult male’s enlarged heart.  But what about the taste?  The waffles were delicious; very dense, yet fluffy, and not airy at all.  It tasted great with the fried leek garish that came with it.  The fried chicken was delicious, with a moist inside and crispy outside, and as an added plus, it was kindly de-boned!!  Sure, having actual strips of bacon instead of bits, baked into their waffles and preparing well seasoned fried chicken shows that the chefs cook with care, but serving de-boned chicken demonstrates that bit of extra love that’s so often lacking.  Without a doubt, I can say that this is possibly some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.  I’d never thought I’d say this, but I’m so glad my husband took me to that diner in that run-down casino!    Since we got back, I’ve semi-seriously suggested several times, that we drive to Vegas just for one more taste.  I found there’s the original location in San Diego, which is shorter drive from Los Angeles… totally doable.

Sure, they might laugh at a picture of what I’ve just described, but would Japanese people actually like this dish?  The one hurdle to overcome is the combination of sweet and savory, which Japanese people usually don’t like.  In this case, serving fried chicken alongside maple syrup might seem scary at first, but with a dish like this, I’m confident that this huge plate of food will please their senses of taste as much as it dazzles their senses of sight.  Viva America!

July 26th, 2011

PB & J 3

Most of my Japanese friends love American culture with one glaring exception: PB&J.  Whenever I mention that my favorite snack is celery with peanut butter, I’m greeted with the comment that I’m way too Americanized.  They are probably right about that. But regaining my Japanese identity is as easy as grossing out my anti-fish loving husband by eating dried anchovies as a snack.

The variations on the traditional PB&J would confuse my friends even more.  Mendocino Farms, a gourmet sandwich shop in Los Angeles, offers a Bacon & Housemade Peanut Butter Sandwich on grilled panini.  Based on its price of $8.75, I’d have to say that this is one of the more sophisticated versions of this sandwich that I’ve encountered.  Along with applewood smoked bacon & homemade PB, it has caramelized bananas, crushed honey roasted almonds and green apples.  I actually do love this sandwich, mostly because I love the bacon, whose saltiness paired with the sweetness of the banana compliment the rather bland PB.  Maybe if I start out by stating that PB&J with bacon was Elvis’ favorite, I might get a few of my Japanese friends to take a bite.

PB&J has come a long way from the kid’s sandwich of choice.  There are PB&J ice creams, donuts, and cookies, but a PB&J burger?  Sounds strange, but what could be more American than combining these two signature classics?  It would never happen, you say? Apparently, you’ve never been to Mo’s restaurant in Burbank where the “Foggybottom Burger” sits prominently on the menu.  At first, it seems like a traditional burger with its nicely cooked patty and fresh buns, but the addition of peanut butter and sour plum jam set it apart from the rest.

When you assemble these ingredients and take your first bite, you taste nothing but the peanut butter, however, by adding sliced pickles, somehow it works (surprisingly).   Our waiter said all his customers are skeptical before they order, but once they’ve tried it, his feedback is 100% positive.  Love it or hate it, it’s an experience, to say the least.

While the thought would surely turn off the typical Japanese palate, it’s worth a try.  After all, turnabout is fair play: to most Americans, the thought of eating raw fish seemed crazy thirty years ago, and today, there’s a sushi restaurant on virtually every corner of Main Street U.S.A.