I have a friend (let's call him Mr. X) who's both a Japanophile and a shopaholic. Not that this is a bad thing - the combination means that his apartment is a treasure chamber of Japanese collector's items, beautifully rustic ceramics and a kitchen swollen with all kinds of Tokyo food imports.
Mr. X used to work as an SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) steward on the first class route between Copenhagen and Tokyo (which was before the airline had to go on a serious diet and fire a great heap of its staff-- among others, Mr. X).
Last week two other friends and I were invited over to his place for a light summer dinner, Tokyo style.
The balcony table was a welcoming treat of a chilled rosé wine and steamed edamame beans. Please notice the white bowl on the right containing my home planted shiso leaves brought as a hostess present.
Check out the impressive collection of bowls, plates and cups on his kitchen shelves-- most of it bought in Japan and flown back to Denmark.
Personally I love the wabi-sabi style ceramics-- the rugged, helpless, rustic style that especially speaks to Scandinavians who (in general) love natural materials, wood and nature's sensibility. You can spot some white rugged sake cups in the middle of the bottom shelf. Adorable.
The table was nicely set with an original Marimekko tablecloth, matching Ant chairs by Danish designer Arne Jacobsen and clear Finnish iittala drinking glasses. Mr. X's large collection of yakimono (grilled food) and ceramics are going quite well with the Scandinavian objects.
I was really taken by his Finnish iittala retro glassware set called Ultima Thule from 1968. The bottoms look like frozen ice drops and it has a real 1960's Mad Men feel to it. Don Draper, pour me a scotch and sit on my lap, please!
Apparently the water pitcher was bought as vintage as it has gone out of production. The glasses are still available though.
OK, first dish! A mix of silky tofu and rustic Ricotta, ginger soysauce and a top layer of shiso leaves and smoked bonito flakes.
The combination of tofu and ricotta was something I had never tasted before, but it was very good. Tokyo weds Milan and throws a party on my tongue.
Dish 2: Chilled soba noodles with spring onion and chopped nori and Enoki-take mushrooms.
A perfect serving for hot summers that made me miss my long, bright days when I lived in Tokyo and could stroll through the boiling streets, sit down at a random counter and order ice cold noodles and beer for almost no monies (compared to our insane Copenhagen prices).
Dish 3: Gyoza with a chili garlic sesame soy dip. Also nice on a summer night.
By now the sake started to work its magic. I have a problem with sake, it doesn't taste of anything to me, but I like drinking fluids so down it goes and eventually I go with it.
The sake we were drinking sported an impressive straw woven bottle. And as usual my Japanese wasn't sufficient to read the label, but Mr. X had bought it in Tokyo so it was good stuff (again: I think it was).
What you are observing here is not supposed to be used at a dinner table on Earth. These sake cups were especially made for the Tokyo-Copenhagen first class route on SAS and are not available for any ground living plebs like us.
Take a wild guess how it happens that we're getting drunk right now on sake from these cups.
For the main course we had something called Nikuyaki with beef and potatoes but it was too dark by now to take a photo and I was so full so I gave up my food reporter project and gave in to the sake. Instead I give you a blurry snap of a Moomin bowl.
Practically everyone I know in Copenhagen owns one or more Moomin objects - another thing the Scandinavians and the Japanese have in common!
The evening ended with the usual amount of Danish candy, close studies of magazines containing pics of naked men with an attitude and of course dancing to ABBA.
Maybe that's exactly what the rich peeps do on the Tokyo-CPH first class too?