I’m reading an article in the Guardian that reports that too much long-haul business travel results in unhealthy levels of radiation. I don’t know why I find this piece of macabre news amusing, nor do I understand why it compels me to act on another news report I read recently that one should always wear sunscreen while in flight. I can only do the best I can with what information I have.
I am writing this on transit in Narita, Japan, before catching my next flight to the Northern Mariana Islands. This is the beginning of two weeks of airports and aeroplanes, two things I don’t care much for but are necessary evils. I imagine a time when people travelled by boat and it took them months to get from one end of the world to the other. It was impossible to book back-to-back long-haul travel which is what I’m up for several times over the next couple of days.
But it’s not gloom. I’m pretty resourceful in making the best out of strange situations, so I made the effort to get outside for a few hours instead of working in my hotel room. Besides, a girl’s got to eat. So on the food front, here’s what to make out of a short transit in Narita.
You will find some of the best sushi around at Terminal 1 at Narita International Airport. You don’t have to take my word for it because the numerous reviews online and endorsements have put this location on the map and added some waiting time to the mix. Sushi Kyotatsu opens at 8:30am though they sell takeaway boxes from 8:00am. On the menu is Edo style sushi which puts the emphasis on simple and clean flavours.
So many serving plates, so little time
For washing up, that is. The various thumb-sized condiments served within their own little bowls and plates are beautiful when plated and really adds to the ritual of the meal. For a minute I start envisioning this same layout being replicated at home, but deep down I know I am an efficiency ogre. It’s ‘everything in a bowl’ or bust when I do it but they can use as much tableware as they please when I’m eating out.
Convenience store fare
You might ask how could I possibly advocate eating food from a convenience store?! Well, if you’re looking for an authentic taste of a place, my advice is never limit yourself to high-level foods, especially when the variety and quality are as good as you get in Japan. My brand bias makes it impossible for me to eat food from 7-Eleven, but with Lawson Station I have absolutely no qualms. It’s fast food that tastes okay and sometimes even good. Egg salad sandwiches and chicken nuggets for me.
Eel on a free transit tour
If you have 5 hours to spare, a volunteer guide at the airport will take you on one of a few available itineraries. It’s more like walking around with a new acquaintance rather than a guide, so don’t expect anything more than a friendly and attentive local helping you find your way around. My tour came with a few food stops, including a bean-filled pancake, chestnuts, rice crackers and a self-paid lunch of the local speciality – unagi (eel). The flesh was so fine and tender. Delicious.
The appetiser for dinner was an open basket of snail, prawn, sea cucumber, duck and spinach, a combination that sounds odder than it tasted. Once the main arrived which was a chirashi bowl layered with more variation of seafood than I was in the mood to eat, I knew I had ordered too much for one. I think it was the crispy ice-cream cookie from the convenience store I downed earlier that killed my appetite. The powdered green tea, a Matcha Hatsumukashi, rich, full-bodied and malty, was well-worth working through the entire meal.
Tomorrow, I head to Guam and Saipan. I don’t quite know what they eat in that part of the world, but I read that the portions might be beyond my digestive ability. For your reading amusement, I will try my best.