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May 29, 2006

Peking Garden / Sichuan Garden

Dominic Armato
UPDATE : Sichuan Garden has closed, and a redesigned Peking Garden remains.

When I consider the fact that I've spent well over 100 nights in Hong Kong, it's astounding how little I've actually seen here.

It's something I always lament. I get to Hong Kong anywhere from 4-8 times every year, and they're all surgical strikes. A typical visit for us is two consecutive 12 hour days in Shenzhen (just across the border to the north) and three nights of sporadic sleep when the office back home isn't calling, bookended by 23-24 hours of transit in either direction. Occasionally, we'll get a day off, but when that happens we're so bleary from the long hours and the jetlag that it's all we can do to keep from sleeping the entire day, much less find the energy to get out and about to explore. It's not something I'm proud of, but it's an unfortunate reality of the schedule we have to maintain. With such brutal trips, it's no wonder that we're creatures of habit when traveling to China. We stay in the Conrad on the island, perched atop Pacific Place, an upscale mall that gives you no hint whatsoever that you've left the western hemisphere. It even houses an establishment named Dan Ryan's Chicago Grill, which is disconcerting on a number of levels, not the least of which is the kind of creepy unease you'd expect from visiting a theme restaurant based on your hometown. In any case, there is an assortment of competent international restaurants housed within Pacific Place, and we've pretty much tried them all. Some of my compatriots can only handle so much Chinese food before it starts to get tiresome. And admittedly, when the factory rolls out the red carpet and stuffs us with an obscene amount of food day after day, I have to consider the possibility that I couldn't do more than a week before I needed to decompress with a simple sandwich or a plate of pasta. But when we come to China, it isn't a marathon, it's a sprint. As such, when we aren't dining on the other side of the border, when my traveling companions aren't desperately in need of something non-Asian, and when there isn't time or energy to strike out in search of new restaurants, I fall into Peking Garden and Sichuan Garden whenever possible.

Dominic Armato
Peking Garden and Sichuan Garden are a pair of restaurants that are run by Maxim's Group, Hong Kong's equivalent of Chicago's Lettuce Entertain You. They're sister restaurants, each taking up half of the same space and sharing a common kitchen. I remember a time when you'd choose whether you wanted to eat at one or the other, but at some point the management must've realized it was pointless trying to keep the two segregated, and now they don't even offer you a choice. They'll plunk you down wherever it's convenient and drop both menus on the table. It's not as inappropriate a combination as you might think, since the Sichuan menu seems more like Sichuan by way of Canton to me. China is a mind-bogglingly enormous country, and there are so many unique regional cuisines that I've only barely scratched the surface. But with my limited experience I've come to the conclusion that while PG/SG's dishes aren't necessarily authentic to their home region, they are authentic to their home country. To put it another way, I think that getting a Sichuan chicken dish at PG/SG is sort of like getting a pasta Bolognese in Rome. Do the Romans prepare it just like they do in Bologna? Not exactly. But it's still a damn fine pasta, and close enough to the original that it can't be derided for being an ever-so-slightly loose interpretation. In any case, authentic or not, every dish I've ever had at PG/SG... and I've had quite a few... has been excellent.

Dominic Armato
If I had to summarize, I'd describe the restaurant's style as a clean but casual amalgam of Chinese cuisines typefied by spotless execution and potent, beautifully balanced flavors. PG/SG was my first meal in China, and it's the perfect eye-opener for someone who's never had the opportunity to see beyond the Americanized version. This isn't what you get back home, but they also aren't throwing the snakes and scorpions and chunks of congealed blood at you just yet. You can graduate to that later. It's Chinese that's safe for first time visitors, and I absolutely don't mean that in a derogatory manner. For the most part, the menus are filled with dishes that, while regularly butchered in the States, will still be familiar to those who haven't spent time in China. A perfect example is Hot and Sour Soup. For those who enjoy it at home, PG/SG's version will seem entirely familiar. Just better. It sidesteps all of the common pitfalls. It isn't bland, it isn't brimming with cornstarch, and rather than being hot or sour soup, it's actually hot and sour soup, with chinkiang vinegar subtly but firmly holding down the sour half while chile oil and white pepper tag team the hot half.

Dominic Armato
Another favorite appetizer is their Sliced Pork in Garlic and Chili Sauce. It's a small pile of very tender, moist slices of carpaccio-thin cooked and chilled pork, swimming in a sweet and slightly spicy oil with heavy soy, garlic and sesame components. It's a bold and succulent dish that challenges the western notion that all Chinese dishes are stir-fried, deep fried or steamed. From there we usually move on to one of my favorite dishes anywhere, their Deep-Fried Prawns in Sweet-Sour and Chili Sauce. It's a sweet-sour that demonstrates the folly of the goopy, ketchupy glop that's frequently found on chunks of lean pork loin in the States. The sauce is a very light syrup with some characteristics that almost resemble a liqueur. It's potent, and it swings more towards the sour end of the spectrum, then punches you with the aromatic trio of chili, garlic and ginger all at once. It's almost like a Thai dish in its explosiveness, and it's at or near the top of my list of restaurant dishes I'd like to reverse-engineer.

Dominic Armato
From here, we move on to the recently mentioned Sauteed Diced Chicken with Nuts in Chili Sauce. You'll forgive me for taking a moment to wax poetic here, but this is a dish that made my top ten of 2005, and it deserves detail. This is a truly spectacular chicken dish. It's a very common blend of Sichuan flavors, but turned on its head somewhat. In traditional fashion, it's an oily stir-fry that combines chili oil, dried chiles, ginger, garlic, vinegar, (I think) shaoshing and huajiao, also know as sichuan peppercorn. It's no small accident that this made my top ten in the year that huajiao became one of my pet ingredients, but the appeal of the dish goes far beyond that. In Sichuan cuisine, the "ma la" thunder and lightning combination of spicy and tingly is most often typefied by the combination of chile peppers and huajiao. If you've ever had an abusive Ma Po Dofu, you're familiar with ma la. But while I love the fire, in this dish it shares the stage with the sour. It's almost a sophisticated mellowing of the aggressive Sichuan I've come to know, and it's expertly done. This is a multilayered dish with balanced flavors that I only dream of duplicating. And the choice to use only dark meat is both the correct one, and one that would rarely be made in the States.

Dominic Armato
For me, a Chinese meal isn't complete without big chunks of pork, and the Spiced Fried Spareribs are another favorite. Coming from the United States, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was the first time you'd ever tasted real pork, largely because you'd be right, but that's another rant for another day. Here, the ribs are coated with some type of dry spice blend and deep-fried, then sliced and served with a fine seasoned salt for dipping. The meat is both minimal and delicious. The seasoning is present, but plays only a small, unobtrusive supporting role. This is pork with character. The outside isn't a dense, tough chew like American BBQ, but is instead very light and crispy. The meat inside is tender, but it offers resistance. The meat falls from the bone, but to consume it requires a certain amount of immensely pleasureable chewing. Being very lean, it's in stark contrast to the ultrafatty Chinese pork that I've come to adore, but even in this state it has more pork flavor than almost anything I get stateside. Given the texture, I'm quite certain it's cooked before it hits the deep fryer, but I have no idea what form this par-cooking takes.

Dominic Armato
Of course, if it isn't a law that all Peking-style restaurants must do a phenomenal Peking Duck, it should be. But in any case, these folks are in compliance. It's a no-frills preparation that doesn't go through the extra steps of creating stir-fry and soup and what have you from the rest of the carcass, but instead focuses on the essence of Peking Duck, which is the crispy, fatty, lacquered skin. You have the option of receiving your bounty either in sliced form, with a little strip of skin along the edge of each slice of meat, or the way I prefer it, as seen here, skin and meat separate. With the latter, you're more able to get a good mouthful of the incredible skin, which obviously makes it the correct choice. Another of our favorites is something the likes of which I've never seen in the States. Their Deep Fried Crispy Shredded Conpoy, Walnut, Bamboo Shoot and Salt Cabbage is, I suspect, not what the USDA has in mind for the fruits and vegetables section of their venerated pyramid. But surely, if they were aware of such a dish, an exception would be made for its exceptional taste. It's a dish that's as much about texture as flavor, though the latter is certainly no slouch. The entire dish is fried, and as such is rather crispy, though each component is crispy in a different fashion. The cabbage and bamboo are both heavily salted, and the conpoy (dried scallop) brings a briny flavor, but the salt is balanced somewhat by the crispy candied walnuts sitting at the bottom of the dish. The entire thing has the feeling of vegetables turned into a sophisticated version of junkfood, appealing to snacky sensibilities.

Dominic Armato
And, speaking of snacky sensibilities, we have a favored dessert as well. Their Apple Fritters are brought to the table as large slices of apple bathed in a hot caramel, fresh from the wok. While tableside, they drop the sticky, sizzling caramel apples into a bath of ice water or... if you prefer... cream soda, which instantly hardens the caramel, turning it into a light and crunchy candy crust. The slices are then turned out onto a plate to be consumed, hot and crispy. The apples themselves have been slightly cooked with the caramel, mostly raw, but just slightly softened on the edges, which mellows the tartness and accentuates the sweetness. Personally speaking, while I understand the appeal of the cream soda, I prefer the plain water bath. The apples and caramel both have a very natural-tasting sweetness, and while the cream soda adds a little more complexity to the flavor, to me it also adds a touch of a sickly sweet carnival treat feel. It seems less like something that's coming from a wok, and more like something that should be eaten alongside cotton candy. It's worth noting that the difference is rather subtle, but at the end of a fantastic Chinese meal, authentic or no, I'm not prepared to shatter the illusion with carny food.

May 28, 2006

Thank You, Mr. Steingarten

Dominic Armato
On the flight over to China, Jeffrey Steingarten managed to provide an answer to one of my fish questions in It Must've Been Something I Ate, an excellent collection of his essays for Vogue. I intend to write a little more about Mr. Steingarten later, who is rapidly becoming one of my culinary heroes, but for the moment I wanted to pass along a bit of info gleaned from his essay on toro.

When the Japanese fishmongers insert the long wire into the tail immediately after killing the fish, it turns out that I was correct in my suspicion that it is being sent straight down the spinal column. And while I had thought it was part of the killing process, it would instead seem that the fish is already dead from the first stroke, and that this second step is done to improve the flavor of the fish. The idea is to stop any contraction of the muscles (I assume by simply scrambling the neural tissue in the spinal column), so that there isn't a buildup of lactic acid in the meat as the fish goes through its death throes.

This is attention to detail that I appreciate.

May 27, 2006

Here's To Old Favorites

Don't get me wrong, I love Americanized Chinese for what it is, but this is why I have a hard time getting excited about true Chinese cuisine at home:

This is from a restaurant in the shopping mall beneath our hotel in Hong Kong called Peking Garden / Sichuan Garden (two restaurants in one), and we hit it pretty regularly. To recap, this is a shopping mall restaurant. This particular dish made my top ten of 2005, and I just got a good photo of it last night. Note: no white meat of any kind. Are you listening, United States?!?!?

More to come.

May 26, 2006

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Logo by Rob Helfen
Iron Chef Chicago IX is right around the corner.

We have a date (June 10th), we have a challenger, we have a judging panel, and the theme ingredient will be revealed to the chefs on Tuesday.

I hate this part.

Maybe even more than the cleanup afterwards.


May 25, 2006

Top Chef Finale

Well, I think everybody got what they wanted, right?

Amazing, really. Of course, a lot can be done in post to maximize drama, but could the producers have possibly asked for more to work with? In the end, the most illuminating comments came from the usual spot, Tom and Gail's blogs on the Bravo website. They say they left the drama off the table when making a decision, and call me naive, but I believe them. Unsurprisingly, to hear Tom describe the decision process, they were essentially in a dead heat, and it was Harold's consistent and often exceptional performance over the course of the entire competition that put him over the top. I'm unfamiliar with reality TV prognostication etiquette, but I understand now is the time when those who predicted correctly are supposed to crow about it, so here goes. From my post, going into the finals:

"Though it's a conventional pick, unless he stumbles it's got to be all about Harold. He isn't always the flashiest, but he has that classy restraint and crisp, clean execution that will only become more valuable as the pressure is turned up. Tiffani can't match him and isn't creative enough to sneak around him. And while Dave is, indeed, the wildcard, there's no way he takes the pressure of the finals without tanking something in spectacular fashion. By the end of the finals, I predict that he's sloppy drunk at a skeezy off-strip blackjack table at 6:30 in the morning, still in his whites, yelling at a blue-haired septuagenarian dealer to hit his hard 17 and then bawling when he busts."

Yeah, I know, it didn't take a clairvoyant to make those calls. But given the exact nature of Dave's demise, combined with Tom's blog revelation that Dave and Stephen arrived for sous duties drunk (not hungover, not tipsy, but drunk), and Jill's blog praise that Harold "knows when to use restraint", I'm primed for season two prognostication duties. None of this is to say that the final was without surprises. Harold did, in fact, stumble a little more than I would have anticipated. And while I figured Tiffani was smart enough to know that she'd have to run a creative end around to have a shot, I didn't expect her to come as close to pulling it off as she did. But in the end, the right guy won, and did so in exciting and immensely satisfying fashion. No more qualifications. This is a great show.

So when does season two start, again?

May 24, 2006

Egg Poaching

Dominic Armato
I still have a couple of Japan entries backlogged, but tonight's experimentation merited a little break. I think I've finally conquered poached eggs.

Poached eggs are tricky. Trying to get cooked yet tender whites and liquid but not watery yolks while keeping the egg in some semblance of a cohesive mass is a delicate balancing act. Yeah, you can use egg poachers, but I find that the texture is never as light and the presentation is somewhat less than impressive. Back in March, I got pretty good results by taking a minimal approach and leaving the eggs alone. But inspired by today's thread over at LTH Forum, I had a little brainstorm that I tested, and it worked fantastically well. I'm still not 100% certain whether this is a good idea, or if I've just been misreading instructions all these years and I'm stating the blatantly obvious, but here it is, anyway.

It's just a slight variation on one of the most traditional methods. I brought a pot of water along with about 1/4 C. of white vinegar just to the brink of boiling, then lowered the heat slightly so that it wouldn't boil. I took a coffee cup with a handle, and lightly oiled the inside. I cracked an egg into the cup, but instead of gently dropping the egg into the water, as is frequently suggested, I submerged the cup about 3/4 of the way in the water, so that the egg could set slightly while still protected inside the cup. I gave it about 10 seconds or so, then gently slipped it out of the cup. That short stint in the cup eliminated most of the little wisps that usually spread all over the place. I let the egg cook for 3-4 minutes, then removed it with a slotted spoon, and it came out perfectly.

Dominic Armato

Dominic Armato
It may or may not be worth noting that the cup I used bore an image of Gromit. Given his remarkable affinity for the fusion of things culinary and mechanical (the porridge cannon, for example), I can only assume that his canine visage helped me to achieve better than average results. Also, as mentioned back in March, I've been both surprised and thrilled by just how well poached eggs hold at cold temperatures. As instructed by The New Professional Chef (and hordes of other sources, I'm sure), when you remove the eggs from the simmering water, you can drop them into an ice bath and hold them there for a few hours. Then, you can gently reheat them in a pot of lightly salted water that's held at 120-140º. I had heard of this technique years ago, and had always assumed that it would adversely affect something as delicate as a poached egg. But I'm pleased to report that I didn't detect any deleterious effects of any kind.

May 23, 2006

Fresh Wasabi

When in Japan, it's sights like this that make me weep.

May 22, 2006

Premium Fruit

Dominic Armato
Part of the reason food is so fantastic in Japan is the nation's obsessive devotion to quality. These are broad generalizations, but in the US market, cost is almost always the first consideration. The price point for a product is determined first, and then the resources are adjusted to match the price. This happens in Japan also, to be sure, but it seems like there's a much larger market for products that are made to be the best they can possibly be, with little if any regard for cost. It's this frame of mind that gave birth to the premium packaging that drives me there for work, the pinnacle of beefy decadence that is Kobe beef, and even more surprisingly to most, Japan's premium fruit. To put premium Japanese fruit into context and make it sound slightly less insane, it's important to remember that in Japan, the practice of gift giving makes ours look simple by comparison. Combine a regimented social structure wth a culture that holds respect, status and politeness in exceptionally high regard, and you get the practice of okaeshi... giving return gifts of roughly half the value of the original gift. Throw in the aforementioned boundless pursuit of perfection, and you get $200 cantaloupes.

No, it's not an exaggeration. Of course, it should be obvious that not all Japanese produce is so expensive. Generally speaking, everyday produce seems a little pricey, but not unreasonably so, and given the tradeoff in quality, I'm inclined to believe that it's worth every penny. But premium fruit is another beast entirely. These fruits are bred to be the apotheosis of fruity goodness, and meticulously tended as they grow. They're sold at the peak of their ripeness, ornately packaged with more care than the average newborn child, and sold at a price that reflects the amount of care they've been given. The result is absolute perfection. Of course, the prices reflect the quality. $200 for a gift melon isn't the least bit unusual. The cherries you see pictured below sell for over $100 per box... more than $1 per cherry. Insanity? It would seem so. Until you taste some.

Dominic Armato
I've tasted Japanese premium fruit only once, and it was purely by accident. We were eating at Zakuro, our favorite shabu shabu joint, where you're constantly swarmed by an army of kimono-clad hostesses who endeavor to micromanage every little detail of your placesetting. Of course, nothing is done without permission. As such, when dining at Zakuro, you're constantly bombarded with questions... may I fill your drink, may I move your plate, or may I give you a napkin. So 98% of the time, they're just looking for simple acknowledgement before performing their myriad duties. The problem, when you don't speak Japanese, is determining which questions comprise the other 2%, and our inability to do so is how we ended up with the $40 peaches. Three of them. For dessert. And they were amazing. In the States, I'm convinced that you could eat 500 peaches during the peak season and not encounter one that was half as tasty as these. I know I had never had anything even remotely close in a lifetime of peach eating. They were incredibly sweet with just the right hint of sour and the most intense natural peach flavor I've ever encountered. The flesh was firm but yielding, perfectly uniform throughout and absolutely gushing juice. The fruits themselves were the size of softballs, perfectly shaped, perfectly colored and without the tiniest blemish. They were, for lack of a better word, absolutely perfect. This isn't to say that I intend to make a habit of consuming pieces of fruit that cost as much as a cheap dinner for four, but as a once in a long while event, I can't knock it for a moment. Those peaches made our lunch that day one of the best meals I've had in the last five years, and with culinary nirvana increasingly hard to come by, I see a $40 surcharge as a small price to pay for something truly special.

May 21, 2006


Dominic Armato
Despite traveling to Japan numerous times before becoming a rabid fan of Iron Chef, takoyaki somehow snuck under my radar until one episode when the BDJ (Bimbo Du Jour, for those not familiar with IC shorthand... it requires some explaining) seemed positively horrified when it was suggested that the Iron Chef seemed to be preparing a variation on the dish. Now, I subscribe to the theory that we need not be of similar tastes for a critic to serve as an accurate barometer with which I may measure the likelihood that I will enjoy whatever he or she is critiquing. Over the years, I've applied this theory to film with great success. Roger Ebert and I disagree on a great, great many things, but over the years I've learned to filter his reviews to the point where I can predict when I will enjoy a film he pans, and vice-versa. In similar fashion, if an Iron Chef BDJ curdles at one of Hattori-san's prognostications, it's usually a pretty good indication that the dish in question is something I'll love. As such, takoyaki was high on the hitlist for this trip.

Dominic Armato
As it turns out, her lack of excitement wasn't due to takoyaki being a strange or unusual dish, but rather due to its lack of refinement. Takoyaki is greasy and fried, a chunk of cooked octopus suspended in the center of a ball of fried egg batter and basted with a sweet soy-based sauce. My impression is that it's known in Japan mostly as junkfood, or in even less flattering fashion, as booze food. Indeed, the first time I actually saw it in person, it was being served from a convenience store window to a fairly young crowd that was... less than steady. Naturally, this only further piqued my interest. So it was with great interest that I came across what appeared to be a fast food joint devoted to takoyaki. Gindaco is a chain that I could tell you more about if I could read the website. All I've managed to determine is that they span multiple countries (a Google search turned up photos of a Taipei branch), and in a move that may earn my undying respect, they do only one thing and do it well.

Dominic Armato
The Gindaco we fell into is located at Tokyo Dome City, a fairly corny amusement park and mall that surrounds the the Tokyo Dome, aka the Big Egg, home of the renowned Yomiuri Giants and the far less renowned (but far more beloved, at least in my household) Nippon Ham Fighters. In short, the ideal locale for upscale junkfood. The menu at Gindaco is limited to three items, all of which seem to be the same takoyaki with slightly different toppings. The preparation was pretty much as I'd seen it before. Takoyaki is made on a griddle with perfectly spherical pits that form the balls. The batter is poured over the entire griddle, and then a little bit of cooked octopus is dropped into each pit. Once the mixture has solidified a bit, the surrounding semi-firm batter is pulled over the top of the octopus, and the ball is flipped upside-down so that the other half can cook. I'd seen this process before, but the one thing that surprised me was the consistency of the batter. It wasn't the least bit thick... basically liquid. If I were to attempt to reverse-engineer the dish, that certainly wasn't how I would have started, but this is why they're running an international takoyaki empire and I'm not.

Since it was a first time experience, we opted to start with the basic takoyaki. It was topped with some of the aforementioned sweet soy-based sauce, some type of dried, shredded seaweed and shaved bonito. And it was really tasty. I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't this. For starters, the outer crust was extremely crisp, and had a great caramelized flavor. In between the crust and the octopus wasn't the heavy, doughy substance that I'd anticipated, but rather a very light, fluffy, moist layer that deflated and collapsed when bitten, and was nicely seasoned with some vegetable bits and other flavors I couldn't quite identify. And finally, at the heart of the takoyaki, was a marble-sized morsel of cooked octopus... the "tako" part of takoyaki... which didn't seem to be seasoned, but provided a nice little chewy bit to anchor the light crispiness of the rest of the snack. We enjoyed the takoyaki so much that we went back to try another. It was, undoubtedly, a tough choice, but in the end we opted to skip the light shredded green onion topping of the negidaco in favor of the mayonnaise-saturated teritama. It seemed only appropriate, given the less-than-healthy nature of the dish. Though some mayonnaise-averse members of our party were less than impressed with the second round, I found it to be a remarkable improvement over the first. The teritama (pictured at the top) adds a huge dollop of what I suppose could be called egg salad, except that it's about 80% mayonnaise and 20% egg. Plus, there's a symbolic little dash of togarashi. I don't know that it affects the flavor appreciably, but I support chile pepper in all forms. As mayo-dipping European fried potato eaters can attest, there is nothing finer than mayonnaise when it comes to dipping fried foods. Add to this the fact that sweet soy and mayo are a great pair, and you've got a winner. I'd love to give the negidaco a taste next time, but I don't see it topping this.

Of course, this is my only experience with takoyaki, and it's a chain, no less. For all I know I'm shilling for the Long John Silver's of Japan. So while I'd like to expand my takoyaki horizons in the future, in the interim I'm happy to label Gindaco's product awesome. And if anybody can translate the franchise page of their website, let me know, K?

May 20, 2006


Dominic Armato
Between scurrying around Tokyo, sleepwalking through my return to the States and then, unfortunately, running off to a family funeral, finding the time to blog the past couple of weeks has been a little difficult. But the upside is that I now have a ton of backlog material to get through, and while I should probably wait and slowly build to what I consider Japan's main event, I can't wait any longer.

While in Tokyo, I finally visited one of the culinary wonders of the world, the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. That's a touch misleading, as my father took me there when I was maybe 14 or 15, but it's been so long that I barely remembered my previous visit, except for the vague notion that it was really cool. I also originally saw it later in the morning when a lot of stalls had shut down, and I hadn't seen it since the growth of my appreciation for food markets, so I've been angling for a return visit our past few trips. I'm glad I finally made time.

Tsukjii is the largest fish market in the world, handling more than 2000 metric tons of seafood daily. And as we all know, metric tons are both larger and cooler than plain old tons. In any case, it's a lot of cool fish. The market is divided into three main sections. First, you have the innermost area where the tuna auctions are held, which is off-limits for those who aren't licensed wholesalers (unless, as it turns out, you get a special visitor's license ahead of time, which I may just need to research for my next visit). Then, you have the "outer market", which is where the 900 or so wholesalers make their wares available to the general public in a buzzing, densely packed covered market. Lastly, you have the surrounding neighborhood, where many small shops sell their wares on the street, many of them including fish purchased at the market proper. Of course, the surrounding neighborhood isn't limited to fish, but includes all kinds of food products, including meats, produce, kitchenwares, dry goods and others. I cruised through the surrounding neighborhood only very, very briefly, but I could spend an entire day exploring it, and I hope to on a future trip. The focus of this post, however, is the outer market, which is absolutely breathtaking. Of course, fish back home isn't anything like what we get in Japan, and this market is exactly why. My meager ability with words can't possibly do justice to the scale and energy of the market, so we'll make this a photo-heavy post with commentary. Be warned... many megs worth of photos are after the jump, but I've tried to provide reasonably-sized thumbnails that you can click on to see larger images.

Photos abound after the jump.

Continue reading "Tsukiji" »