When life gives you bitter gourd

July 11, 2013 in Bon Cheesepetit / Japan / Senti-Emmental

Today is the danna’s birthday, we decided to go for something simple, so we went to his favorite Okinawan restaurant.

It’s an old, narrow little izakaya in Shibuya.

And here’s what we had:

1

Okinawa Shikuwasa juice. No, the owner isn’t that stingy lol. I almost finished drinking it before i realized i haven’t had a picture of this yummy fruit juice.

2

Salted cucumber.

3

Stir fried Goya Champuru (bitter gourd) with tofu and egg.

4

Stir fried stomach with leek and mushroom

5

Stir fried konbu with konnyaku

6

Stir fried somen with lettuce and cabbage.

 

7

Fried rice

8

Tororo Konbu (a melty seaweed) tofu soup.

 

What do you think of the food?

Did you go yucks at some point?

 

If i only looked at the pictures, i’d probably not think that it’s anything special or super yummy. It’s just stir-fry Chinese home style kind of yummy at best lol.

 

What do i think of the food?

Honestly?

I almost teared. Again. Wtf.

 

I dunno what’s wrong with me, it’s a little hard to explain. As pretentious as it sounds, this meal gave me some insights into life. Some perspective of how i see things differently.

After having had so many different meals in Japan, i realized one thing in particular.

I began to accept, even developed a liking for many foods that i used to hate. A few examples:

 

1. Tomato. I hate raw tomatoes. Cooked ones are okay, but i have to take out every single piece of sliced tomatoes in my sandwich. But in Japan i will order tomato salad.

2.Okra. No. Just no. I hate biting into the bitter seeds and i hate the gooey feeling of it. But here i will order grilled okra in Yakitori shops.

3. Donuts. Who, except Simpsons, eats this oily hole thing that has zero nutrients?! But here i will go to Mister Donuts.

4. Cucumber and Lettuce. To me cucumber is a stupid, wasteful deco for chicken rice of which if you decide to give it a bite out of sympathy, it will ALWAYS be bitter. IT’S NOT WORTH THE RISK. And lettuce to me means that inedible brown rusty thing they use to put beneath the food so that you can pretend your food is somewhat healthy. But i love Japanese cucumber and lettuce.

5. Basically just vegetables in general. Here i would chomp on veggies happily.

 

So when i had the first mouthful of (no. 3) goya champuru (stir fried bitter gourd with tofu and egg), my mind was full of ?!??!?!?!?. I was all how can bitter gourd taste so good?!??!

My brain was confused with this whole new discovery. I was so shocked that i had this feeling that my entire life has been a lie.

Since young, my mom has always been lecturing me to eat more vegetables because they are good for you. I was brought up to think that the sole reason why humans should eat vegetables is because vegetables are healthy and make you have less cancers, or at least better cancers, whatever. So yea, we make effort to have at least some greens to balance our diet.

I do eat bittergourd at home. My mom always tells me 吃得苦中苦,方为人上人。(Can tahan bitterness to become superior human or whatever wtf.) So all these while i eat it and feel proud because i quite 吃得苦 (can eat bitter) lah。

It never occurred to me even once that i should eat veggies because they are yummy.

This Goya Champuru was my Bodhi Tree wtf.

In Malaysia, there are, of course, food so yummy it makes you cry. But for me there has always been this equation:

Yummy = Super Unhealthy (lots of lard, oil, scorched bits from the wok wtf)

Healthy = Yucky food (i dunno… salad in general? Maybe except Hakka Lui Cha. I like Hakka Lui Cha.)

So all my life i had to struggle between the dilemma of getting a Char Kuey Teow foodgasm or stop clogging my arteries.

But today.

I was enlightened and have thrown away this inccorect perception that has haunted all my life.

I EAT VEGGIES BECAUSE THEY ARE KOBE BEEF DELICIOUS.

Lesson of the day: 原来Food can be yummy AND healthy at the same time. (At least in Japan.)

Thank you, bitter gourd.

Also…

And then i had the (4)stomach with leek, it was super yummy!!! And then i had the (5) konbu and konnyaku, i couldn’t believe something that is tasteless and zero calorie can be cooked soooo flavorful! And then i had the (6) fried somen with lettuce and cabbage, THE CABBAGE WAS SO CRUNCHY AND SWEET, and i cannot believe the best fried noodle i had was so simple one.

All the while i was murmuring to the danna how yummy the food was, then the fried rice comes. He was like, “I wonder how the fried rice taste? Could it be super yummy too? But it’s just fried rice… how special can it be.”

I took a spoonful and there was tears in my eye wtf.

(Our fav Okinawa restaurant. It’s called む鉄砲 Muttepou. You are welcome.)

 

So then i thanked the danna, teary eyes, for introducing to me this life changing Okinawan restaurant. And he was just like, as predicted, “Well, if only you could replicate the same taste at home…”

And i protested at once “but it’s impossible!!! Material quality here is completely different! You can’t possibly expect me to come up with the same taste when the bitter gourd here is so fresh and unbitter, that’s so unfair.”

And then he said, the food material quality has nothing to do with it. It’s what you make do with it.

His father makes Japanese bento for a living for over 40 years, and he knows what he does to make his food taste good. If the vegetables and fruits are less juicy this batch, he takes them out for some sunlight and make sure they mature, before cooking them. Of course it is not just his father. All good chef has to know.

It’s called effort.

Now i don’t think i am crazy when i say that i can taste the chef’s feeling and love in this slice of beef/piece of pea. Because there is.

 

It’s a whole new definition to the saying When Life Gives You Lemons.

Except when life gives you bitter gourd, make them not bitter WTF. 

原来人no need to 吃苦。只需要把苦变不苦。OK THIS SHOULD BE MY NEW LIFE MOTTO. Forget about Hakuna Macaron.

 

I was so happy.

We finished the dinner, i paid the bill, i told the old owner/chef that the meal was very good, and he gave me an appreciative bow.

 

And that’s why you have to come to Japan.

(This will be the ending note of all my blog posts from now on.)