Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Our Fukuoka Christmas 11 - In the black at Go Kitchen

When on vacations of a week or more,  I prefer to stay in apartments rather than hotels.
It somehow gives me the feeling that I "belong", at least for the time that I am there.
I like exploring the neighbourhood -- buying bread from nearby bakeries,  shopping in the small markets and enjoying meals in restaurants that have not been discovered by tourists.

On this trip to Fukuoka, we were lucky to stay in a quiet neighbourhood.  On walks to and from the apartment, we would often pass by this cozy little cafe called Go Kitchen.
It was full of regulars during mealtimes -- office workers from the nearby buildings and residents.  
The blue door looked quite inviting.  Green plants and wooden penguins  on the window sill added to the eclectic, homey appeal. Rough hewn wooden benches  hopefully meant that smokers were not allowed inside the restaurant. 

One afternoon we finally decided to drop in for a late lunch.  At 3 p.m. the place was nearly empty.  I immediately like the unpretentious, comfortable vibe.  Menus on the table were in Japanese and our waitress could hardly speak or understand english.   
She beckoned us outside ... were we being thrown out of the place?

It turned out she wanted to show us the signboard which had photos of their 
(I'm guessing) specialties -- hamburg steak, a tomato based pasta dish and something 
I could not quite identify, so I had to point and ask ... "kore wa ... omurice desu ka?"  
She smiled enthusiastically -- "Hai! So desu."
Food once again had broken the language barrier!

After we all trooped back inside, I settled down in our booth which had a good view of  the
chef probably making our meal .  A counter for diners wraps around the entire kitchen. I loved the simple overhead shelves for  cups and bowls,  sake and shochu bottles --  a tasteful and efficient way to maximise the limited space. 

 Although we did see the photo on the menu outside, Jay and I were both taken aback when his order of hamburg steak arrived at the table. 
It looked like it had been rolled in tar!  Had the kitchen burnt it?  Why was it so black?
It turned out that a black sauce had been poured all over it.  The hamburg steak itself was perfectly cooked.  Broiled not fried, the hefty patty was succulent, juicy and beefy.  
The hamburg set at Go Kitchen  came with buttered vegetables plus a bowl of hot rice 
and miso soup.  
It's your typical yoshoku dish where western influences are blended with Japanese tastes and preferences.

My omurice did not look like the normal omurice at all.  It came in a gigantic pasta plate that almost covered the entire tray.   The same black sauce that blanketed Jay's hamburg steak was slathered all over the egg and rice. 
This black sauce must be Go Kitchen's very own special concoction.  Jet black with a satiny sheen, 
it did not taste like any sauce I had tried before.  I could not pinpoint it specifically as salty-sweet 
or sweetish-spicy.    The consistency was not quite thick but it wasn't soupy either.
It was certainly savoury and full of umami goodness.
 It completely confounded us and we just had to keep tasting it until we finished everything on our plates.

 Omurice is customarily served with tomato ketchup -- whether on the side or squeezed on top.
Since this obviously had been removed,  the chef had incorporated ketchup with the chicken broth fried rice so each spoonful reminded you that this strange looking dish was an omurice indeed. 
Go Kitchen's version fused tradition with the chef's innovation -- and it worked, deliciously.      

We lingered long after our late lunch -- still trying to decipher the inexplicable puzzle of 
Go Kitchen's uniquely flavourful  black sauce.  Perhaps another visit is needed before we can crack 
this  riddle.  In the meantime,  I'll have another glass of beer!

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