Challenge

I leave for my vacation to Thailand in about a month. Before I go I’ve decided to challenge myself and learn at least 50% of “Under Different Welkins” by Novelists. This is by far the hardest song I’ve attempted to learn and I’m looking forward to this challenge. I’ve been playing my seven string guitar more and more lately and this song feels like it would be a lot of fun to play.

Tsukemen

I visited Japan (specifically Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Osaka)  in July with my brother and my best friend. It was an incredible experience. This was the first international vacation I’d taken in a while (not counting visits back home to India) and I had a lot of fun.

 

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Kinkakuji
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Ginkakuji
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Nijo Castle

If you’re planning to visit Japan (and I’d highly recommend doing so) here are some tips that might help you:

  • Visit Hiroshima. It is an intense, heart-wrenching, and emotionally moving experience. It will change you.

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    The Hiroshima Peace Memorial
  • Get a Japan Rail (JR) pass. It allows you to use Japan’s excellent public rail system an unlimited number of times for a flat fee for 7, 14, or 21 days. It makes traveling between and within cities in Japan effortless. Make sure to also install the HyperDia app to help you plan your travels.
  • Throw out all your clothes before you leave for Japan and be prepared to acquire a whole new set of clothes when you’re back. Why? Because the food in Japan is SO GOOD that you’re going to eat A LOT and none of your old clothes will fit you anymore. To say that every meal I had in Japan was excellent would be an understatement. Highlights for me included my meal at Len, fatty tuna, Wagyu beef, tsukemen, and ochazuke.
     

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    Ramen
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    Ramen
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    Ochazuke

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    Tsukemen

Eel

One of the many highlights of my recent visit to Japan was a dinner I had at Len (also called Ren). Len is a two Michelin starred restaurant in Tokyo and I managed to get a 6pm dinner reservation there on my second last night in Japan.

The meal was phenomenal. I love Japanese food, and in my mind this meal exemplified everything that attracts me towards Japanese cuisine – simplicity, elegance, and the freshness of ingredients.

Restaurants that “ruin” a food item for me hold a special place in my heart. By “ruin” here I mean that they serve me such a perfect version of the food item in question that subsequent versions I eat elsewhere will (most likely) pale in comparison. This first happened to me at Quince where I had the best mac and cheese I’d ever had in my life, and it happened again at Len, where I had the most sublime and incredible rice and eel I’ve ever tasted. This is a simple dish, but in its simplicity lies perfection.

Here are some pictures from my dinner:

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Sea urchin and steamed egg custard
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Water melon and abalone soup.
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Chef Jun Mishina charcoal grilling pike eel.
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Charcoal grilled pike eel. This was my first time eating pike eel!
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Japanese beef and eggplant with a plum sauce.
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Steamed rice and eel with house-made pickles. Perfection.