After our adventures exploring the Wara Animal Sculptures at Uwasekigata Park, we worked our way back to Niigata. Fortunately, the taxi driver gave us a card of the taxi service to call when we were finished. We called and had a taxi within minutes. We went back to the train station and then back to Niigata. We had a short walk to our hotel.
We booked the Shinkansen and hotel through IACE Travel, the travel agency on base. The travel agent made everything so easy. She printed the train schedules because they don’t run as frequently as trains near the bigger cities. Also, she printed our hotel voucher making our check-in super easy (always remember to bring your passports). Our travel agent also gave us a voucher for a free sushi platter to use at one of several participating sushi restaurants in the area. To help us locate the restaurants, she printed a map! At check-in, the receptionist gave us two ¥500 coupons to use with dinner.
We dropped our backpacks and headed out for sushi. I wish I had my camera ready to capture the sushi chef’s face when we walked in the door. He was obviously shocked to see two American girls walk into his restaurant. ? The chef and sous chef were welcoming and gracious hosts. They seated us at the sushi bar. We ordered two beers. When the beers were served I handed the sous chef our voucher and coupons. There was conversation between the two chefs and from what I understood, the voucher was good and the coupon would be applied to our beers. A short minute or two later, the sushi chef was displaying pieces of sushi for us to eat.
The pile on the left is ginger. The white fish was good and the tuna was so buttery. Yummmmmmm… my favorite.
Next, from the kitchen we eat were given a bowl of miso soup.
The sushi chef placed more tuna (on the right) and raw shrimp. I wasn’t as squeamish as last time about the shrimp. It was delicious, actually.
He added to our sushi display, krab stick, clam, and another white fish. I was worried about the clam. It was ok. It was slightly pickled, making it very crunchy. It was kindof a weird texture, but tasted ok.
He place tamago (egg) on the right. And then the salmon roe and sea urchin arrived. I couldn’t do the sea urchin. I still remember the awful taste from our experience in Hiroshima. I used a trick my Mom taught me when she was forced to eat oysters. I hid the sea urchin in tissues and threw it away after we left. Sonia was so much braver than me. She ate hers like a sushi boss.
When we eat completed our platters, I was still a little hungry. I ordered two additional pieces of tuna – maguro. “Oishi des” – “This is delicious!” Our sushi chef smiled.
Once we finished, we requested our bill. The total costs was ¥1300 – less than $13.00. The voucher and coupons covered everything except my second beer and two pieces of additional maguro! The tuna was ¥350 each and the beer was ¥500. I’ve never eaten so much delicious food for so cheap!
We decided to walk around after dinner. We headed toward the train station and discovered an interesting sake shop. For ¥500, you received a sale cup and 5 Sake tasting tokens.
There were 111 different sakes to taste! I started with #97! It was good. Better than any Sake I have tasted.
We asked for recommendations for others to try. Number 86 was pretty delicious.
The process was so kawaii. You set your Sake cup underneath the dispenser, inserted your coin, and then pressed the yello button. Five seconds later, you had Sake to taste.
In addition to the Sake tasting, there were a plethora of different salts. Using the little scoop, you placed some on the back of your hand and licked it before tasting the saki. It was like the Japanese version of tequila shots.
A map in the Sake tasting room showed where many of the Sakes were produced.
The sake and salt tasting was another unique Japanese experience. It was another peek into the beautiful culture of Japan!