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Americans are so polite.
All of us!
I do think Americans are more polite than British people sometimes.
Yeah.
And friendlier.
Definitely friendlier.
A lot of British people aren’t very friendly though are they?
No we’re horrible.
Absolutely horrible.
Japan is home to arguably the finest cuisine in the world.
Prepared with the freshest ingredients
At the hands of some of the the world’s most disciplined chefs.
Now all we have to do now is get out there and eat it all - which is a sacrifice, I’m willing to make.
I recently won a competition called Tohoku 365
To travel around the entire northern region of Tohoku, through 6 different prefectures
In search of the very best local food.
In the last episode we explored Miyagi prefecture, eating our way through 6 delicious must try local dishes.
6 prefectures.
6 dishes.
There seems to be a worrying pattern emerging around the number 6.
This week we’re continuing our journey around to Iwate prefecture, Japan’s second biggest prefecture
Where I’ll be catching up with Natsuki and trying one of my favourite Japanese dishes
And meeting a local expat from America, who’ll be showing us around one of Iwate’s biggest street markets.
But like all good trips, we start off with a bucket of Genghis Khan…
Like the Mongolian dictator?
What.
I won’t lie, I was pretty excited when I heard of a local dish in Iwate, called Genghis Khan.
I was even more excited to discover the dish involves barbequed lamb
A meat which is pretty rare to find in Japan.
Despite the name Genghis Khan is a Japanese dish
It got its name as Japanese people commonly associated Mongolia with sheep.
And naturally it made sense to name the dish after a historic dictator from the same country.
My only criticism was the dish didn’t come with a side of Chairman Mao.
It’s the only time that I’ve had lamb in Japan.
Lamb is actually my favourite meat, but I’ve done without it since living in Japan.
It’s nice to finally get hold of some - and cook it on a bucket.
The best place in Iwate to enjoy Genghis Kan, is the countryside town of Tono.
It turns out people in Tono like to wander off into the countryside for bbq’s
And the bucket is their answer to a portable bbq.
What I like about this is you put the lamb on top and the fat on top
And then the juices run down into the vegetables on the side to give them a meaty flavour.
And you’ve got this sauce here which is soy sauce mixed with ginger
That goes really well with the lamb.
Very good.
The future is buckets.
With a population of 300,000 Morioka might not be a large city by Japanese standards,
but it’s certainly bustling with character.
And as luck would luck would have it, I’ve managed to find myself a tour guide; a local
American expatriate called Quinlan, who I’ve met through Airbnb.
It’s worked out pretty well as he’s kindly offered to show us around the Morioka’s bustling street market.
Glorious American hospitality.
I’d recommend getting some of these.
You’re hungry right?
I’ll get five of these.
One of the most popular stands in the market is a stall selling smoked goods.
Mr Toyama sells a variety of food that’s he professionally smoked himself
Ranging from fish to vegetables and even cheese.
And it's not long before I’ve snapped up a plateful of smoked camembert.
He’s got a lot of smoked internal organs if you’re feeling adventurous.
Smoked internal organs?
Yeah.
That sounds appealing…
I think I’ll stick with the cheese.
Yeah I’m with you.
It’s funny I always talk about how there’s no cheese in Japan and yet we’ve found cheese
in Miyagi prefecture and now cheese in Iwate prefecture as well.
Clearly I’m wrong.
I haven’t been looking hard enough for the last 4 years.
I could take you to see cows tomorrow?
If you’re still entranced
What an offer!
There’s some dairy farms around here.
I could take you to see some cows tomorrow.
That’d be a great chat up line!
How would you like to see some cows?
I can take you tomorrow.
With that dashing accent, definitely.
Americans are so polite.
All of us!
100% of the time.
I do think Americans are more polite than British people sometimes.
Yeah.
And friendlier.
Definitely friendlier.
A lot of British people aren’t very friendly though are they?
No we’re horrible.
Absolutely horrible.
So what’s this Quinlan?
That is a Tofu Dengaku.
What does Dengaku mean?
Lightening study.
No, it means smeared with Miso and then fried or grilled.
I like the sound of lightening study.
So Tofu with miso smeared on it, cooked over charcoal.
Like a Tofu lollipop.
It’s very salty.
Tofu is flavourless, so it’s nice to have a bit of flavour on it.
It’s coming off.
Quite healthy?
Yeah Tofu’s healthy.
This is a Vegans dream - a tofu lollipop, and it’s slowly going down the stick.
Not the easiest thing to eat.
Being a Vegan isn’t easy.
Being a Vegan isn’t easy!
Having officially lived a difficult life as a vegan - for 90 seconds
I’m going in search of Morioka’s most famous food.
Morioka might not be huge, but it still has quite the culinary identity
The city is well known for it’s three famous noodle dishes; each of them surprisingly different.
You might already know the first noodle dish, Wankosoba.
Wankosoba is less of a dish, more of a hardcore challenge
Whereby you're given an unlimited amount of buckwheat soba noodles served in tiny bowls
And have to basically shot them continuously until you either give up or are physically sick.
It's said that a real man should be able to eat 100 bowls
Which I was able to do when I challenged my friend Ryotaro on a trip last year.
For more details on Wankosoba, and to see who won the challenge, be sure to check out our video.
The second type of noodle was named after your favourite Star Wars character.
That's right, Jajamen, and no I'm not making that name up.
Jajamen is a dish comprised of thick noodles, similar to udon, covered with a meaty miso sauce and cucumber.
My first impression upon trying it was "It's the closest thing I've had in Japan to spaghetti bolognese".
But as well as being named after your favourite Star Wars character, it's also a 2 in 1 dish.
Once you finished 2/3 of the bowl, hand it over to shop staff who will add the hot water
used to cook the noodles, and convert the dish into a soup called Chi Tantan.
It's honestly one of the most unique and delicious dishes I've had in Japan so far.
The last of the 3 famous noodles is Reimen, a cold noodle dish originally from Korea.
The noodles are rubbery in texture and somewhat translucent, with the cold soup served typically
with beef, kimchi, cucumber, and a piece of fresh fruit.
In my case, watermelon.
Yay, watermelon.
The soup is a little bit spicy, hence the fresh fruit to soothe your mouth.
But for me, the best of the 3 great noodle dishes of Morioka has to be Jajamen
Not just because it brought back nostalgic memories of my favourite Star Wars character
But because it's like nothing I've had in Japan before with the thick meaty miso sauce
Being the perfect combination with the thick noodles.
There's no better way to end your day with a bowl of Jajamen, and a bucket of Genghis Khan.
Food with names.
I've been looking forward to this all week: visiting restaurant Wakana, one of Morioka's top Teppanyaki restaurants.
There are 2 ways of preparing beef in Japan.
First is through a hotpot called Sukiyaki.
The second is Teppanyaki, which literally translates as iron plate grill.
And in my opinion, Teppanyaki is the best way to enjoy wagyu beef.
Oh, it's really cool we got our own little dining area.
Our own little walled off dining area.
Like a garden or something, with a big brick wall.
The highlight of Teppanyaki is the sense of theatre.
We'd have our own personal chef cooking us a succulent cut of Maesawa beef
Iwate's most famous beef, and amongst the top 5 cuts of beef in all Japan.
Maesawa beef, you know?
Maesawa beef, it's art, and the world.
I say theatre, it can also feel a bit like torture.
Watching the juicy cut of steak being prepared in front of you for 20 minutes.
Finally, the steak is sliced into bite sized chunks
And served with a spicy chili miso sauce.
Eating the steak is a sensation difficult to put into words
But fortunately we’ve got Natsuki on hand to deliver his premium verdict.
Before I try it, I want to see how Natsuki reacts.
1 to 10?
Maybe 10.
10?
10!
In one word - one English word - how would you describe it?
Justice delicious!
That’s two words
Justice delicious!
That doesn’t make sense! Justice delicious
Oh number one!
Tohoku number 1.
Justice delicious.
You heard it here first, Maesawa beef.
Not justice!
Trust me!
Trust you.
You could be a great food reviewer.
Trust us.
I feel like I’m eating something that’s been sent from God.
Like a river.
Like a slowly river.
Like a quiet lake.
Like a quiet lake or a slow river.
It’s art.
It is art.
It looks like art, it tastes like art.
It’s so good, eating it feels like you’re doing something terrible.
I feel like I should just sit here and admire it.
1 to 10 you know.
It’s over 10 for the first time.
That’s impossible!
I can believe.
In our next journey with Tohoku 365, we’ll be visiting the prefecture of Aomori.
Where Natsuki gets up close with Jaws.
Nice dental.
Nice dental?
I create the ultimate bowl of sashimi at an innovative all you can eat fish market
And an entire city is brought to a standstill, by a tortoise randomly walking down a street.
It's the sort of exciting, surprising, bizarre things you sometimes see everyday whilst walking around Japan.
Many thanks for watching guys, we'll see you next time.
Maesawa beef, you know?
Maesawa beef, it's art.
And the world.