Quirky Japan: Eating Daggertooth Pike Conger

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Japan has a “foodie” culture and presentation and delicate tastes are very important at restaurants. They also eat everything that comes from the sea including the summertime Kansai (name for the western region of Japan where we live in Osaka) dish, hamo. It is in the foreground in the photo above and served with beefsteak leaf, wasabi paste and either a spicy red sauce or mustard. It was delicious but when I looked up the English name for hamo, I found it was dagger-tooth pike conger (Muraenesox cinereus) a type of eel. It lives on the sandy bottoms of oceans up to 100 meters deep.

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Hamo is best in the summer and I love the seasonality of seafood. Fish are best to eat at certain times of the year and each season brings with it new fish and other creatures to try. I am trying to learn all of the different seasonal fish and also learning how to prepare them. I never grew up eating much seafood, but really like it and I know that it is very healthy for me. One of the starters was the summer noodle, somen, which is in the foreground in the photo below. It is served cold. I had these dishes at Fujiya a restaurant close to the kitaguchi-nishinomiya station.

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People like to socialize and drink over meals in Japan. Restaurants rather than bars and dance clubs are less popular than restaurants. Meals last a long time and are many courses. It must be the Japanese metabolism that keeps people thin here because when they go out, they eat a lot. Below was my kanji lesson for the night. The top part is the kanji for white and the bottom has a portion for bird and go forward, which signifies “white hawk” and it is a type of sake. I would like to learn more about how sake is made and the different types of sake.

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Zemun Quay

Dinner Along the Danube, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

We went out to eat last night at the restaurant Šaran on the Zemun Quay. It was such a pleasant experience, I had to blog about it.

Zemun used to a separate city from Belgrade, but is now one of the 17 municipalities of Belgrade. It has a slightly different feel (architecture) than Belgrade, being under the Austrian-Hungarian Empire influence for a long time.

Zemun was founded on the banks of the Danube River, on three hills. There is a nice riverfront area of restaurants, that with a few modifications, could be made even nicer, and perhaps another attraction like Kalamegdan or St. Sava’s Church.

There are quaintly, slightly decrepit buildings, small fisherman’s boats, cobblestones, trees, and breeze coming off the river, with the view of a green opposite bank. One feels like it could be a Greek island waterfront, or a neighborhood of Venice. There were old men sitting on tables in front of dimly lit cafes, having a drink and some laughs. The restaurants in the summer have temporary dining areas along the river, outside of their main buildings. Many have live music. Besides diners and cafe-goers, there were families going for a walk along the quay, fishermen coming back from a day on the river, etc. It is perhaps a bit like San Francisco’s Fishermen’s Wharf before it became a tourist trap.

They can improve the area by stopping cars from entering the cobblestone street along side the quay. There are several areas nearby that could be developed as parking areas. We saw they were improving the walking paths along the quay and this would also help, especially if they can figure out a walking path up to the Gardoš Tower, which is a short two blocks from the river. There are also potential green areas further up the river bank that could be included in the quay area. Further down river there is the Grand Casino, more riverside parks, Great War Islands, with Lido Beach, and many great “splavs” – restaurants and night clubs on stillts on the river – also close by and with some creative development, could be connected to the Zemun Quay. It could be a good alternative to the downtown Bohemian Restaurant district of Skadarlija.

The food was good at Šaran and we had the best waiter I’ve encountered in Belgrade, Some of the dishes were a bit over-salted for our taste, but overall a fantastic meal.

Happy Birthday Nadia!

 

  


Nadia turned 33 yesterday and we celebrated by going to the Dačo Restaurant. We shared the celebration with some friends. Dačo is a unique restaurant featuring homemade Serbian food. It has the cozy atmosphere of a Serbian village and heaping portions of delicious food. My favorite last night were the plum sauce on pork, kajmak with proscuitto on hot lepinja bread, and this bean dish. I highly recommend the restaurant! It is located in a working class neighborhood near the Pancevo Most. Strange to have this place surrounded by communist-era apartments.

We laughed a lot and ate well. Nadia looked beautiful and is getting more beautiful and interesting as the years go by. She paide homage to her homeland of Australia, and baked Anzac biscuits for everyone to celebrate also, Australia Day, which also happens to be ont eh 26th of January. Happy 33rd baby, I love you!

Support Staff Dinner

Last week we gathered together to say thanks to our support staff. These are the secretaries, administrative assistants, receptionists, and others, that help the school run smoothly. I am pictured below with my administrative assistant, Bojana Borovic. I’ll do a post on her later. She is from Montenegro, and has a Montenegrin father and Serbian mother. Bojana works with me and our curriculum coordinators in the high school.

I am pictured saying thank you to the lovely Bojana.
I am pictured saying thank you to the lovely Bojana.

It is a nice tradition to recognize the people who handle much of the daily activities that happen in the school. We dined at the Zaplet Restaurant located downtown. The Belgrade Eye describes the restaurant as follows:

Zaplet – Belgrade Restaurant

Address: Kajmakcalanska 2, 11000 Belgrade
Location: Center – Vracar – find this restaurant on Belgrade map
Telephone: (+381 11) 240 4142

Our Rating:

Restaurant Description

Very nice and cozy restaurant in Vracar municipality – and one of the favorite places for many Belgraders. This Belgrade restaurant offers wide rage of meals from Serbian specialties all the way to asian cuisine. The place is always packed so advance reservation is a must here. The place offers intimacy, modern interior, great ventilation, and as such it is ideal for relaxing and feeling the benefits of really professional service. The menu includes: classic food, salads and starters, risottos and pastas, soups, national meals, main courses, fish and sea fruit. The specialty of restaurant is one of the most comprehensive wine list where you will find all sorts of domestic and imported wines. Besides this the restaurant offers 15 different kinds of deserts and one of the finest coffees we have tried in Belgrade.

Belgrade versus Seattle Appetites?
Belgrade versus Seattle Appetites?

I highly recommend the restaurant. I’ll definitely take Nadia back there sometime soon. The Independent of the UK ranked it as the best restaurant in the city.