I was, some thirty years ago, working in Tokyo full time for almost three years and had frequented Kobe then. Kobe was then the HQ of the Contractor that was employed to build the ABF Fertilizer plant in Bintulu and they had their project office in Tokyo. I was assigned to this Tokyo office to monitor their Engineering Design and Procurement activities. In the course of my work I had made friends with many Japanese staff, two of whom had become very close family friends. One is the Ohtanis who remained close till this day. The other was the late Kodama who passed away due to heart complications more than ten years ago.
Most of those working in the Tokyo Project Office were from Kobe and had returned to Kobe at the end of the project or at the end of their careers. Many of them are retired by now. Ohtani tried to arrange a get-together with some of these staff and only managed to get two of them to meet up. It was holiday period at this time and many of them were away.
The planned meeting was at Awajima JR station on Monday, a public holiday and the third day we were in Kobe. Ohtani and I went by car to Awajima, a half an hour drive from the house, and met Maeda san and Tori san at the Railway Station. It so happened that there was a Chrysentemum exhibition at the grounds of Awajima Castle and the four of us proceed to view the exhibition. We had alot to catch up on. It has been thirty years. Viewing the exhibits was an excuse for us to be together. Did alot of talking and very little viewing, ha ha ha! Stopped at a kiosk where ochanimizu or Japanese green tea was served in the typical, colourful Japanese chawan or tea bowls. We sat at a corner of the rather large and decorated kiosk. The tea was long swallowed and gone and we had yet more stories to share amongst ourselves.
Tired of sitting down, we took a walk in the town and crossed the market place with stalls selling fresh seafood of all kinds. It was fascinating. There were some sea urchins or sea animals that I have not seen before. On display were varied staff from the tiniest of anchovies to the larger sized rayfish larger than a car!
Lunch was at a quaint little shop or restaurant, operated by a husband and wife team, serving only tamago yaki, roasted balls of egg in batter with a small piece of octopus meat as filling. This apparently was a specialty in this town. It is normally eaten after dipping it in sauce. It had a unique taste and I guess the sauce makes the difference. There were only five tables in this shop capable of seating only about a dozen people. While we were there I noticed many customers come in for takeaways. Each of us were served a dozen of the roasted balls, each ball slightly smaller than a golf ball and all of us finished up our shares washed down with ocha. We then went for coffee in another quaint little shop nearby. Over coffee we went through old photographs, with all of us having black hairs but have now turned all white!
Ram meanwhile was at home with Ayako. Ayako's friend, a former college mate and also room mate, came visiting on hearing Ram's presence and wanted to try English conversation. Ram showed them how to cook authentic Malaysian curry chicken. I think they had alot of fun cooking and also conversing, they in English and Ram trying it in Nihongo or Japanese language!
Dinner was chicken curry and rice with some salads. Ayako chan had also cooked something that was similar to the tamago yaki except that its the version with less egg. The tamago yaki had one whole egg yolk in each, making it rich in taste. Ayako's version was milder in taste and can be taken as it is without sauce and have no aftertaste. The real tamago yaki has to be taken with sauce to eliminate the rich egg aftertaste. Both were lovely anyway, and we could reminisce over it as we have tried it many years ago in Tokyo. While we enjoyed the food Ayako cooked, the Ohtanis were enjoying the chicken curry and Toshihiko had second helpings!
To be continued....
MKI Ramblings Unlimited,