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Journeyman

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Oshinbo is amazing but will 10x your rice and sake bills...
Interestingly, the author, Kariya Tetsu, has lived in Sydney for quite a few years.

I absolutely love the Oishinbo story where Yamaoka takes Kyogoku Mantaro (a very wealthy businessman) to Okaboshi, Yamaoka's favourite restaurant. He's asked Okaboshi (the owner-chef of the eponymous restaurant) to prepare a very simple meal of some rice, soup and fish, based on the food that Kyogoku ate when he was young and poor, before he made his fortune. However, although the meal was extremely simple, the quality of the chosen ingredients was excellent and they were exquisitely prepared.

On a related note, when I was at university in Tokyo, I remember watching a Japanese TV program where a few celebrities took a walk around their favourite part of Tokyo and talked to each other and to the camera about their favourite places (shops, cafes etc). In the course of the program, they walked past a "komeya" (rice shop) and, at the front of the shop were three rice cookers, each cooking precisely the same *subspecies* of short-grain rice, but grown in a different geographical region of Japan (somewhere in Kyushu, Niigata and one other place, from memory). The celebrities each sampled a little bit of the rice and exclaimed about the difference in flavour between the three different helpings of the same subspecies of rice. Meanwhile, I was sitting there thinking, "Um, it's... rice. Just rice".

Some years later, I mentioned this to the lady who is now my wife and she looked at me as though I was an idiot. Of *course* the precise same subspecies of short-grain rice tastes different depending on where it's grown. Rice from the same bag can taste different, depending on who cooks it. For many years, my wife refused to eat at a particular restaurant near us, simply because she didn't like the way they cooked the rice!

@Coxsackie - Anyway, to reiterate what I said earlier, so much of the food in Japan is great. Yes, it's fantastic to have a special experience by going to a "ryotei" (high-end, kaiseki ryori restaurant) when you happen to be in Tokyo, but you could also just step out of your hotel, flip a coin to decide whether to turn left or right, then get lost in a warren of little streets, pick a restaurant and it will still be great and you'll have a lovely meal.

As an example, my wife's parents live in an untrendy area on the fringes of the old "shitamachi" (downtown) area where the commoners traditionally lived in Tokyo. Despite that, there are plenty of great places to eat dotted around the place. During our last visit a couple of weeks ago, I was walking along a narrow street near the train station a little before 11:00am, when I noticed five or six people sitting on a bench outside a small, inconspicuous ramen shop, with a further twenty or so people waiting in a line snaking down the road. The shop wasn't even due to open for another half-an-hour! When I got back to my parents-in-law's house, I looked up the location and discovered that it's widely regarded as Tokyo's best tsukemen shop (ramen noodles served on a plate, with a bowl of dipping sauce). Depending on what you want to eat, the price varies from JPY650 (AUD$8.50) to JPY1150 (AUD$15.30) for a serve of noodles, broth and other ingredients such as "ontama" (onsen tamago - soft-boiled egg), menma (young bamboo shoots) and chashu (char siu - Chinese barbeque pork).

Meanwhile, about ten minutes' walk down the road is a soba noodle restaurant that has a "bib gourmand" in the Michelin guide (ie highly recommended but just below a star). When I arrived for a meal, the chef was sitting in the little entrance area of the restaurant with a small, stone flour mill between his legs, grinding buckwheat into flour so that he could then use the flour to make his own soba noodles, which he then cut up by hand. I had tamago-yaki (Japanese omelette) and a serve of the inakaya-zenro soba noodles and paid about JPY2000 (about AUD$26).
 

fxh

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The Imperial Hotel is very nice indeed - my wife used to stay there frequently for work, as her company's office was very near. However, she was too exhausted to take advantage of the food options around the area and would end up getting room service!

We do, however, have a good stock of Imperial Hotel bathrobes and towels... 😗
range, not really gredients are, or as

By the way, on the topic of Japanese food, I can highly recommend a Japanese manga (comic) called "Oishinbo". Some volumes are available in translation and it's both entertaining and very informative:

When I saw the VIZ link I wondered what tips it would have on eating in Japan. From Finbar Saunders? Fnar Fnaar.
 

mercury

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ABC ran a story about the town of Clunes in Victoria.

There's a bespoke shoemaker there, Duncan McHarg, who does everything by hand (not even a sewing machine for the stitching).

Link to the segment for anyone interested:
His Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/duncanmchargbespokeshoemaker/

There's also some ladies in the town making woolen socks. Each pair takes a hour and 15mins to make.
 

am55

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Duncan's posts here on SF are well worth looking up. Unfortunately (as per Facebook, IIRC) he has had to stop making shoes this year for personal reasons.

edit -
 
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Journeyman

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Duncan's posts here on SF are well worth looking up. Unfortunately (as per Facebook, IIRC) he has had to stop making shoes this year for personal reasons.
I'm pretty sure that @fxh mentioned Duncan, and the Lost Trades Fair that was held somewhere in rural Victoria in early 2019. It sounded very interesting and it's a pity that he has to shut up shop for personal reasons. I just hope that he's OK financially.
 

The False Prophet

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I am fond of OUT - it’s a very cool space but feels possibly more Australian (it’s owners are) Japanese.

Two places I love are The Blind Donkey in Kanda and Eatrip in Harajuku. Their respective owners both trained at Chez Panisse and the food is a broadly similar kind of organic Japanese/French thing. Donkey is bustling, whereas Eatrip is quieter but both are very friendly (which high-end kaiseki might well not be).

Both will be busy but it shouldn’t be too hard to get a solo reservation at the dining bar, watching the kitchen in action. Hasegawa-san at Donkey speaks good English and will make you feel at home.
 

Memo

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TS2404

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Does anyone have a recommendation for the best place in Melbourne to get some shoes resoled? Thanks
 

Coxsackie

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Thanks a heap everybody, for your input into my proposed Tokyo culinary adventurism.

In the end, it turned out that a very good friend of mine is in Tokyo with his wife right now. We have arranged to meet up for dinner, and Stavros is going to take care of venue selection and booking. Probably somewhere in or near Roppongi, as that's where we are all staying.

I've had to cancel the China leg of my itinerary (for obvious reasons), so I'm now going to stay in Osaka/Kyoto for a few days after my week's skiing in Nozawa Onsen. Any recommendations for food while in Osaka are gratefully accepted, and yes, I hear what you are all saying about kaiseki - maybe it will just be lost on me. Like taking someone who never listens to classical music to a concert of the late Beethoven string quartets.
 

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