Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

How Everything Turned Out for My Tampopo Dinner & a Movie

Last night's Japanese dinner was Oishii! Delicious! ...and Yokkata! Wonderful. I knew going in that, with so many dishes, I had composed a very challenging menu, but I really wanted to do it up in authentic Japanese style. And believe it or not, there were hardly any leftovers. Rene and Will really did my dinner justice. After 10 hours in the kitchen (that's right, t-e-n hours, non-stop), I was still too revved up to eat everything on my plates. So I enjoyed the sashimi, miso soup, and tempura with a couple of Sapporo beers, which helped me relax, and then, along with a little hot sake, I continued to nibble on the rest of the dinner throughout the movie.

Although I often make Japanese-style dinners, this was by far the most elaborate attempt I have ever made, and I wanted everything to be perfect. And with few exceptions, it very nearly was. My presentations and garnishes turned out exactly as I had envisioned them, and the flavors were very close too. The only things that didn't turn out quite like I'd hoped were the sushi rice, the Eggplant with Miso, and the tempura. Although they were all delicious, they weren't quite perfect. The sushi rice wasn't quite sticky enough. I think it needed to cook a little longer, and could have used a little more vinegar and sugar. The Eggplant with Miso was a little less glazed and a little more saucy than I'd imagined, and a little salty as well. But Rene thought it was delicious and said it was one of the best dishes on the table. The tempura was tasty too, but the batter didn't explode into that lacy, crispy, golden crust that I'd hoped. I think my oil may not have been quite hot enough. So I think I'm going to make another batch of tempura later in the week, all by itself as a main course, so I can focus on refining the technique.

The photos turned out pretty good too. Unfortunately, since the camera arrived so late, we didn't have the luxury of time to fully explore its features. My son Will played photographer, standing by with the camera as each dish was plated up. He took a photo of each one, and then carried them all to the table. I couldn't have done it without him.

It was such fun watching Tampopo again. I'd seen it several times already, but Rene had only seen it once before, and it was the first time for Will. He was delighted, and Rene remarked throughout how many funny scenes he had forgotten. And of course, the Japanese banquet we'd just enjoyed made it all the more relevant.

When it was over, Rene succumbed to sleep, and Will toddled off to play a late night online video game on the computer. And although I had spent the entire day on my feet, I still mustered the motivation to clean the kitchen. I don't know where I found the energy, but I'm glad I did. And when I awoke this morning, Will had already put away all the dishes and the kitchen was in apple-pie order!

So...I'm declaring my Tampopo Dinner & a Movie a big success, and I'm already looking forward to the next one. Tomorrow I'll be uploading all the recipes and photos, and the day after, a link to my Tampopo film review.