When I was staying at the swanky Marriott in Japan last January, I found myself with the strangest spread infront of me for breakfast. I had wandered around the extensive breakfast buffet, collecting this and that from the line-up that struck my fancy. The resulting collage was eclectic at best - in fact, it was so strange, I took a picture of it:
Here, some yu-dofu (boiled tofu) with ponzu and spicy grated daikon sits in the front. The plate on the left has stewed taro-like potatoes shaped like a mushroom (the top part is the skin), sauteed burdock, steamed okura, stewed hijiki seaweed. The plate on the right has two kinds of cold 'salads' - a vinegared seaweed salad with some clear rice noodles and a seafood angel hair pasta salad with big chunks of octopus. In the back in a plate of croissants and 'hot cakes' (the Japanese version of a pancake, different from pancakes because they are sweet and super thick - that's what they say), with a small plate of mango sauce for the hot cakes. I washed all this down with coffee and fresh squeeze orange juice.
It really was quite a broad spectrum of flavors condensed into one breakfast. I think I might have had some rice and salted salmon for dessert after I cleaned my plates you see here. Now where else can you have such a diverse set of dishes besides a breakfast buffet in Japan?!
The star of the meal, though, was really the croissants. I ate four of them.
Japan is big on bread (called 'pan' in Japanese after the French 'pain', although it might be Portugese...). I've told you about my obsession with Japanese croissants before already, but I seriously believe that croissants in Japan are better than those I had in Paris. These croissants are extremely flakey with each layer pleasureably peeling off of each other as I bite down - even the inside layers remain crisply separated in its paper-thin state, unlike the giant croissants here where the insides are a mushy mess with no discernible layers. The Japanese croissants are also buttery without being oily - the scent of the butter is unmistakably present yet there are minimal reside left behind on both my face and my fingers after I devour one of these. I could never eat more than half of an American croissant, but I can polish off three of these Japanese one any day. Pure epicurean pleasure, these croissants.
An integral part of any Japanese breakfast buffet, I say.