Twelve year old super foodie Carter McCarroll is our guest blogger today. I asked him to share his culinary adventures on his first trip to Japan this past summer (I’m jealous as I’ve never been there except for layovers in the Delta lounge!). Here’s part 1 of this young man’s trip.
Hello, my name Is Carter McCarroll. I am a twelve year old boy with a thirst for adventure. I live in Hinsdale, Illinois and I just started going to Hinsdale Middle School. My dad works for Kerry, a company that supplies food and beverage ingredients.
One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Japan was the food, but there are many reasons why I love food. Foods from around the world have so much rich history, different textures, and techniques for cooking certain foods. There’s just a whole variety of them! I especially like Japanese food. I just love the intense flavor of sushi when It’s dipped in soy sauce (with bits of wasabi in it) and topped with ginger. I also admire the Japanese udon noodle bowl. Noodles have always been my favorite food and I thought it couldn’t get any better until I tried the Japanese noodle bowl – in Japan! Which I will get into more detail later. That pretty much sums up why I love food, especially Japanese food.
We left for Japan on July 21 (a day that I’ll always remember). My dad and I planned that moment for such a long time and the day was finally there and it would just be the two of us flying! I was overwhelmed with excitement. I knew that I’d miss the rest of my family while I was away, since I had never been away from them for so long, nevertheless I couldn’t wait to fly to Japan.
When the plane landed, my dad and I felt an urge to eat noodles (even though It was 3 AM in Illinois). So after nearly four hours of train rides from Narita airport to Tokyo, we finally arrived at the hotel. There were a few Japanese restaurants nearby, so we decided to go to one of them. Luckily for us, our waitress could speak a little English. I ordered a beef noodle bowl that came with a side of rice and tempura. After we ordered, I felt so tired that I could just fall asleep sitting right there (It was 7 AM in Hinsdale and I still hadn’t slept – not even on the plane). I was just about to fall asleep when the waitress placed our food on the table. Even though I was literally half asleep, I dug into my food until there was nothing left. Even the rice was about 5 times better than I usually have back in the U.S. I loved the broth for the noodles. The mixture of everything was almost perfect…… then it was back to the hotel… of course we fell asleep almost immediately.
Our hotel room’s view of Tokyo
The next day was officially my 12th birthday. We were planning to do a whole lot of exploring that day, but kept it more low-key thanks to jet-lag. After a long day and a nap, we went to a local outdoor restaurant. I still wasn’t very hungry, but I ate something anyway. The best fried rice I ever had! It had the perfect warmth, mixture, and balanced flavor.
I felt a lot better the next day. We started off with breakfast in the hotel (which was fantastic!). There was sausages, eggs, noodles, miso soup, steamed rice with many toppings, a whole selection of breads, and so much more. After breakfast we took a cab to see some temples. Then we walked to Shibuya crossing, the busiest street crossing in the world!
Waiting our turn to cross at the busiest intersection in Tokyo!
After some more exploring, we headed back to the hotel to have a snack. We decided to share a small pizza at an Italian restaurant down the street from the hotel. We were actually surprised by how good that pizza was. This pizza was just a margherita. I’m not going to go into much detail about this, but let me just tell you – if you ever travel to Tokyo, stay in the Westin Hotel, and then if you’re In the mood for pizza, go there – its right in front of the hotel.
One of the best pizzas that I’ve ever had!
That night, we ate at a fancy Michelin star sushi restaurant. When our taxi dropped us off, it took us a while to find the entrance, but eventually we did. The first thing that caught my eye when we walked in was that this was actually a sushi bar. No tables anywhere and everyone looked so sophisticated. We sat down next to an elderly Japanese couple and right away, the waitress came and asked us what we would like…in Japanese. She was expecting us to instantly know what we were getting, but without an English-translated menu. I’m guessing that the people that come here are mostly regulars.
Me in front of the “hidden” entrance
My dad finally worked up the nerve to order with some finger pointing and limited Japanese. Our first course came ….it was a mushroom thing and some other seaweed stuff.
I didn’t even dare to try some. Especially after my dad did and said he didn’t like it at all. Next came some nicely cut raw tuna. Finally something that I could eat! It was magnificent! This tender, delicate delight was a perfectly cut juicy piece of tuna that I will never forget.
After that, we ordered some tempura. What came as a surprise was they also had fried corn! It was wonderfully sweet and savory at the same time! That was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my whole entire life. I think my dad liked it better than I did – he kept on talking about how brilliant it was.
Finally, we finished off with some miso soup – which was even better than the miso we had at the hotel. It was perfect blend of warm flavors. After that fabulous meal, we called it a day.
After 2 days of being In Tokyo, it was time to go to Kyoto. This used to be the capital city of the country. There are loads of very old temples with many mountains surrounding it and it’s the culinary capitol of Japan. To be continued…. – Carter McCarroll