I just ate what was probably the best meal I had on my trip. (if you don’t include the dinner I had at Picasso’s at the Bellagio for my send off, it definitely was). I’m not even sure what everything was. There was some sashimi, a shrimp dish in some creamy sauce, a hot soup that was cooked at the table, a small plate of beef and veggies cooked at the table (it wasn’t a teppenaki meal either. It was like a Sterno heater). There was crab, some sort of salad, a fish soup with one of the best broths I’ve ever had, some sort of something I’m not sure what it was but it came in a tiny crock pot and had a shrimp and a scallop in it.
My favorite type of food prior to this trip was Japanese. The gap between it and Indian has gotten larger (but India still will have a shot make up the ground later on).
You will often hear people saying that Chinese/Japanese/whatever food isn’t the same as what it is in China/Japan/wherever. I don’t think that is quite true. If you order fried rice, it wont be that much different from what you will find in China. There isn’t much room to change things. The ingredients are the same, the perpetration is the same, and the people making it for you may have been born in the same country. (There are a few exceptions to this, mostly with spicy foods. Sechuan, Thai, and Indian foods are usually toned down a notch for westerners, but this can usually be corrected by just asking for it to be prepared like it would be back in the motherland).
The real difference is in what isn’t on the menu.
Since I’ve gotten to Japan (and the same was true in Taiwan), I’ve been bombarded with food choices I’ve never seen before. Yes, I’ve eaten my fair share of sushi, but you don’t see nearly as many noodle stands in the West, even though that is probably the national dish here. All of the foods you see aren’t the stuff of fancy, sit down restaurants either. Most if it is the sort of stuff you can find on the street or at 7-11. Sometimes it might be something familiar in different presentation. It could be something familiar like jerky, but made of something unusual…..octopus.
I realized that if I wanted to share with people I meet the food from my home, taking them out for a steak or a burger wouldn’t really do it. I’d need bratwurst and cheese curds, and you just can’t find that here.