‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’ or so they say.
Well today, I ventured into the world of the gourmet sea urchin.
Orange. Slithery. And… well, different.
Discovering somewhere fabulous that’s off-the-beaten-track is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for most travellers. Since I decided to forego the Lonely Planet Guide for this trip, I’ve no idea how far ‘Endo Restaurant’ is from the track.
What’s certain is that the location is ‘non-obvious’: tucked away to the side of a battered car park, next to the central market, it’s not the most salubrious of settings. You’re more likely to be scooped up by one of the fork-lift passing trucks than stumble into the reception area.
But once inside, I must admit the hospitality was simply super – the proprietor, toppling around in a pair of traditional Japanese clogs, looking chirpy and smiley while seemingly being one of the world’s most travelled market restauranteurs. It wasn’t long before he brought out his personal scrapbook of travel photos – Mr Endou at the pyramids… at Ankor Watt… on the Moon (OK so I made that last one up.)
Our group consists of as broad a mix of nationalities as you’re likely to get in a posse of ten – a Norwegian, two Americans, a Nepalese, two Turkish ladies, a Hong Kong-er, a fine fellow from Panama plus Jean-Philippe from Martinique. Quite a combo! Yet the local clientele took this in their stride. Two fellow diners even cleared their table to make way for us – the politesse!
Not being much of a fish or seafood lover, I confess to being a little apprehensive as the food arrived. I needn’t have worried. The miso soup was to die for; the salmon nigri melt in the mouth; the sea urchin… well, two out of three ain’t bad. Call me fussy but it’s just not my cup of tea I suppose. ‘Urchins/horses for courses’ and all that.
World Congress kicks off in earnest tomorrow afternoon with the Opening Ceremony at 5pm. Then it’s head-down for six days of solid wall-to-wall internationalism, with all the usual fun and frolics of a global conference. Too many events, too many people to see and places to go – with an air conditioning system that seems destined to lend us all chronic bronchitis by the end of the week.
Then again, maybe these are just my assumptions – and the reality may prove different? After all, if anyone has the potential to come up trumps, it’s the people of this remarkable country…
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