Soup in a Teapot

Living in Bloomington has forced me to learn how to make dishes that I usually would go out for in big cities. This is not entirely a bad thing because I get to explore different cooking techniques and flavors.

However, one thing I have not been able to make at home is udon and sushi. Making dashi for the udon soup seems too complicated and time consuming and I just don’t have access to fresh fish. The true but sad reality is that I’m land locked!

I was craving Japanese udon and sushi so when my sister asked me where I wanted to go for lunch in LA, I instantly answered: Yabu! (A small local Japanese restaurant)

I gleefully ordered uni, anago, and samma sushi as well as a tendon set with hot udon. The udon was perfectly simple and soothing. Although the sushi arrived after I had almost finished the tendon set, the sushi was unbelievable. The uni was creamy with slight floral notes, the anago was nutty, and the samma’s sharp taste was perfectly balanced with fresh grated ginger.

My sister ordered a matsutake mushroom soup off the daily special menu. The description read: A delicate soup with mushroom, ginkgo nut, shrimp, and fish. The soup didn’t arrive until almost the end of the meal, in a teapot, with two small teacups (one with a small lime) accompanying it.

How was this soup supposed to be eaten? My sister first poured a cup of the clear soup, squeezed in a little bit of lime, and sipped it like a cup of tea. She said it was very flavorful. (I couldn’t taste it because it had ginkgo nuts) But she said that it felt strange drinking it like tea. I urged her to look inside the teapot and we discovered that there were ingredients that were promised on the menu.

She shut the lid again and said, “Am I supposed to eat that?” I guessed that they wouldn’t just put the ingredients in there if it weren’t meant to be eaten and it would be a waste not to eat such tasty bites. My sister countered, “But there’s no way that the Japanese stick their chopsticks in the pot and fish out the contents!” We glanced around the restaurant and saw that no one was paying attention to us. I quickly convinced her that it was worth looking silly rather than wasting such delicacies.

She started fishing out the contents and exclaimed that the mushrooms were delicious and worth the risk.  When the waitress came to clear the plates, I asked her how the soup was meant to be consumed. She confirmed that what my sister had done was right!

If lunch had been presented in the reverse order, it would have been perfect! But eating out of sequence made it more fun and novel.

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