The Hairy Bikers' Asian Adventure (2014) s01e05 Episode Script

Japan - South to Kyoto

1 We've packed our passports.
And bought our phrase books.
Because we're off on our biggest, craziest adventure yet.
Delicious, delicious, miaow miaow beeeeee! We're travelling further than we've ever done before.
To uncover the authentic roots of Britain's favourite takeaway foods.
I've always wanted to know how to make proper sweet and sour sauce.
Going off the beaten track and being welcomed into some of Asia's hidden worlds.
How marvellous is this?! From the high rises and hot woks of Hong Kong The heat on this is really, really intense.
But listen, it's like a jet engine! I love it! To the sweltering tropics of Thailand We love a Tuk-Tuk! .
.
where they say it's impossible to eat badly.
Thai food's arrived in Britain, but by crikey, it's only the tip of the iceberg.
And we fulfil a lifelong ambition, to explore Japan.
That is perfect.
Wow, look at that.
I've just had a sushi-gasm! We finish up in South Korea, where the spicy cuisine is sensational.
This is will go down a bomb down the local.
So leather up and take to the road.
For one extremely hairy Asian adventure! We're on a journey of discovery through Japan.
There's so much more to Japanese cuisine than sushi.
It's our all-time favourite food in the world.
And we want to find out more about the traditions that created it and made it so good.
We're on a pilgrimage to Japan's spiritual centre.
Enlightenment is ours.
We're taking the old road to the iconic Mount Fuji before finishing our trip in the ancient capital of Kyoto.
And what a road it is! Japan's a biker's paradise, and home to four of the world's biggest motorcycle manufacturers.
I tell you what, these work on a nice, dry road, don't they? Whoa! And actually motorcycling around Mount Fuji, it don't get much better, does it? No.
'Sunday's the day for biking in Japan and this is the place to come: 'Mount Fuji National Park.
'Home to one of the country's three holy mountains 'and its spiritual heart.
'This is the most visited park in the country and I can see why.
' There's a serenity to the lake, it's beautiful, isn't it? Oh, it's gorgeous.
Do you know, Si, it reminds me of the Great Lakes in Italy, like Maggiore and Como.
Yes.
I know exactly what you mean.
You know what, we're lucky to even be here, Kingy.
Until 150 years ago, Japan was completely cut off from the outside world.
No-one was allowed in and anyone trying to leave faced the death penalty! That explains why traditional Japanese food hasn't really changed.
'And there's no better place to see the old ways in action, 'than this little town in the shadow of the mountain.
' We made it, mate.
Fujiyoshida.
Home of Japan's finest udon noodles.
And we're going to be taught how to make noodles by a noodle master.
Along with rice, noodles are at the heart of virtually every meal here.
Well, it's like potatoes are to us.
Udon noodles are traditionally eaten before you climb Mount Fuji to help purify you for your pilgrimage.
They're the big fat white ones that look like worms.
But don't let that put you off they're delicious! This is the oldest noodle restaurant in Fujiyoshida.
This place has not changed its recipe for 123 years.
And it's made with spring water from Mount Fuji.
It's essentially very simple, but if you're going to get a right noodle, this is one has got to be the best.
The restaurant's run by fourth generation noodle maker Mr Osawo, who likes to be called Oji San, which means Grandpa.
Hello, hello, hello.
How long has Oji San been making noodles? 63 years.
Now.
That's a lot of very happy tummies.
So how old is Oji San? 80-years-old.
80? Noodles keep you young! Yeah! Oji San is training his grandson Yasuhiro in the dark art of noodle making.
That's the real thing, Si.
That's what we've come for.
It's unbelievable.
Wow.
That's amazing.
Proper hand-cut noodles.
Yeah, yeah.
This is one of the finest noodle shops in Japan and we are very privileged to be here and very excited.
So what's the first step? First of all, put the udon dough on the plate.
What's the dough made from? Flour.
Yep.
Salt.
Yeah.
Water.
Very simple, very pure.
That's it.
'They might be cut by hand, Kingy, 'but the process starts with a bit of fancy footwork.
' 'And I'm just the man for the job!' Gentle, gentle.
Slowly.
Slow.
The finest noodles in the world under a Cumbrian's feet.
It's quite awesome, really.
'Once the dough has been pounded into submission, it's rolled and sliced.
'That's sliced, Kingy, not sawed!' So it's just one cut, is it, just one? Ahhh! I didn't cut through! Ohh! We'll just gloss over that bit, that's what he's saying, I think.
This is not noodles.
This is going to be garbage.
It's tough love, Si.
Once you know the tricks, then you can be better.
How long did you have to put up with this for before you worked in the shop? He cut every day for 15 years.
Most doctorates and degrees and PhDs don't even last as long as 15 years, in terms of your, you know, in terms of your apprenticeship to cutting noodles, I mean, that's quite remarkable.
'The noodles cook for seven minutes exactly in boiling water.
' No, no, no.
You have to practise much more, more.
Ahhh! He's worn a notch out of his stick! Just by the 'The portions are measured out by the bowlful 'but even this takes years of training.
' It's too much.
Ah, no, no, no.
It's wrong.
So, no hold it, just straight out.
In the bowl.
Ohh! No, this is wrong.
Don't what the problem is.
It's only putting noodles in a bowl! It's not as easy as it looks.
I give up! It's never going to happen.
Some things I think are best left as one of life little mysteries, don't you? 'The Japanese are obsessed with noodles 'and they've perfected the art of noodle diversification.
'There are hundreds of variations on the theme 'but one of the most popular is ramen.
' Ramen noodles are thinner and longer than udon and are served in a hearty soup.
They became popular in Japan after the Second World War, and today these comforting noodles are a favourite fast food choice in the UK as well, thanks to chains of noodle bars.
When you've had enough purity, when you've got bored with the seasonality, when you want a mucky noodle, a filthy noodle, you want ramen! Yes! The happy face noodle.
Look at that.
'And in the foothills of Mount Fuji, 'we're going to make our own ramen soup 'with pork broth and marinated soft boiled eggs.
' They're full of thick, sticky, fatty, porky broth.
You've got belly pork on the top.
You've got tamago eggs which are like the best kind of semi hard-boiled egg in the world.
It's kind of, new food, it was born in the 1950s, it's food to free the shackles of oppression.
These boys are ramen rock-and-roll noodles.
But ramen, it's all about the stock.
That's what people are going bonkers for in the ramen shops.
And people who own ramen shops, they closely guard the secret of their stock, but they'll have pork bones going for two days, three days, just this intense, fatty, meaty, tasty broth.
And it clings to the noodle, like a climber on a rock face.
You know, the great thing about ramen, it's sticky when you eat it.
It sticks to your lips, and all that fat content.
Ohh! And when you slurp ramen, it's messy, it gets on your glasses, in your hair, in your head but it's part of the gig.
Now, the broth, it's quite specific.
In here, I've got a pan, with two and a half litres of water.
Yes, it does happen to be spa water from Mount Fuji, but you know, tap will do.
So this is a piece of combu seaweed, and it's been soaking in that two and a half litres of water for about half an hour.
You can buy combu seaweed in Asian supermarkets back home.
Now, what we do is we cut this into three strips.
You've got to be careful.
You put this in here, and we bring this to the boil.
As soon as it's on the boil, we take the combu out and discard it.
If you boil it with the combu in, it's going to taste like a fisherman's wellington and that's not the effect we're after.
There we are.
That's just coming to a nice poach.
Remove the combu and add some sake, dried shitake mushrooms, an onion, ginger and some tuna flakes, which you can buy in Asian supermarkets or online.
I love these big chopsticks.
I feel proper.
This dish has regional variations and round here they love pork ramen.
So what I'm doing is I'm just rinsing the grease off it.
What we want to do is, we don't want any of that to go into our stock.
No, we want the pure flavours, you know.
There you are, dear fellow.
And in they go! Cover that up.
The stock needs to bubble away for three hours.
While it's doing its stuff, I'm going to show you something that'll make your ramen look and taste like the real deal.
It's a hard-boiled egg garnish.
But, like everything Japanese, it is the most perfect hard-boiled egg you've ever had.
It's runny in the middle, and it's marinated for 12 hours in Japanese spices.
'And of course the Japanese have a gadget for everything.
' This is something you won't find at home.
This is a tamago egg mould.
You can have shaped eggs.
You can have heart-shaped soft boiled eggs.
Star-shaped soft boiled eggs.
It's genius.
Pop a soft-boiled egg that's been cooked for exactly six minutes into the mould and immerse the whole thing in a marinade of soy, mirin and sake.
It's just like pickled eggs in pubs.
I like pickled eggs.
After 12 hours - yes, I know, 12 hours - you'll have the perfect garnish for your ramen.
Simples.
Oh! Now, that's the lovely broth.
That's what we're after.
And then add even more flavour.
Fresh shitake mushrooms, ginger and garlic, and these gorgeous shimegi mushrooms which are perfect in soup or stir fries.
That's it.
Job done! Now, we are nearly at the end of the noodle path at the top of Mount Fuji.
The time has come to achieve enlightenment perfection in the way of the ramen.
Fresh noodles like these only need a couple of minutes to blanche.
Then, right at the end, you add your meat.
We're using some slow-cooked char sui pork but leftovers from a roast would do just as well.
Layer up the ramen noodles, slices of pork, spring onions and enoki mushrooms.
And now the broth, lots of broth.
Nice.
Top with more pork, some spring onions and the piece de resistance - the egg! It looks like a builder's bum, not a heart! You too, Japanese builder's butt-crack eggs.
Oh, that's what you're after.
Yeah, look.
That will sit on top of the noodles.
'Finish off with a flourish of tuna flakes.
' Look at that, dude, I love how they move.
As the Japanese say, when you want ramen, there's only ramen'll do.
It's true.
It's comfort food for Japan.
Well, this is the first time, mate.
We've made ramen in Japan.
On the shores of a lake in the foothills of Mount Fuji.
Mmmm! It's rich.
It's sweet, savoury.
All those flavours that you expect from Japanese cuisine.
And all the textural differences as well.
We can't thank Japan enough for giving the world the ultimate comfort food.
Mind, it's a clean shirt.
That's it, Dave, Fuji's right behind those clouds now.
I can sense it, Kingy, I can sense it.
The spirit is nearly upon me.
But the visuals are sadly lacking at the minute.
'Mount Fuji is the most climbed mountain in the world.
'But the summit's only visible for about 100 days a year, 'and it's sod's law that today isn't one of them.
' Kingy, there's like a cutout Mount Fuji sign on the traffic lights.
I tell you what, mate, at this rate, the cutout is about as much as we'll see.
It's about your spiritual imagination rather than the physical entity, dude.
Yeah, but it's enigmatic, because we know it's there.
Exactly.
It's shrouded in a veil of mystery.
This is Mount Fuji.
The sacred mountain, the giver of water for the noodles.
It's kind of otherworldly, isn't it? It is.
I think making the noodles was kind of slightly ethereal.
The attention to detail, the madness of the noodle.
Yeah.
Yeah.
And then, you know, it's all beginning to make sense.
It's just incredible.
What a privilege.
Oh, yeah.
Look at that, man.
If we've got off to a start like this, imagine what Kyoto has got to offer us.
Oh, man, it's just going to be amazing.
It makes you giggle! It does.
Hey, we're lucky.
We are that, mate.
'It's really special up here.
'There's not much that could add to the tranquillity and peace, eh, Kingy? 'Except perhaps a mountain spa.
'If you're of a nervous disposition, you might want to look away now.
' Oh, it's hot! Aaagh! Whoa-hoo! It's poaching.
This is called the black bath.
Is it? Yeah.
Fuelled with the health-giving properties of the waters from Mount Fuji.
Indeed, volcanic waters, these are, heated by volcanic springs.
Said to cure rheumatism, myalgia, haemorrhoids.
Anything that the biker may come down with.
What about neuroses? You could do with some of that, you.
Shut your face.
But, you know, it is an active volcano, one tends to forget that.
And it hasn't blown off since 1707.
Unlike you.
Will you shut up and enjoy the waters? I am enjoying the waters immensely.
Where's your flannel? Cos you can't dip your flannel in the water, you can't pollute the waters with soap.
So what you do is, you put your flannel on your head so you don't pollute the waters and you don't lose your flannel.
It's genius.
So you sit, chatting, with a flannel on your head.
It's tradition.
'Is it? 'Well, tranquil and purified, we're ready for Kyoto, 'Japan's ancient capital.
' It definitely feels like the ancient capital of Japan.
Beautiful, isn't it? Fabulous.
It's like a film set.
It does, doesn't it? 'Japan was a vegetarian country for over a thousand years 'and has some of the best vegetarian cuisine in the world.
'The very best is found not in Kyoto's swanky restaurants 'but in the Buddhist temples.
' Now, this is going to be interesting.
Oh, you can see the architecture's changing as well a bit, isn't it? Yeah, yeah.
'We're lucky enough to have been invited to break our journey 'and stay the night at the temple.
'We've arrived late but the monks have left the key under the mat, 'so we can let ourselves in.
' Cor, this is a chance to take a breath, isn't it? Isn't it just.
This is part of our pilgrimage to find the kind of roots of Japanese cuisine.
We're lucky enough to get to sleep here, then we're lucky enough to get up and learn a few things about what is possibly the best vegetarian food in the world.
We get to help to cook breakfast, which is going to be interesting.
We have to get up early, we have to cook breakfast, we have to help in the garden, then do a bit of cooking of our own.
How lovely is that? 'But first, after a long day on the road, we need our beauty sleep.
' Kyoto is home to 1,600 temples.
Buddhism has been part of the country's culture since the 6th century and Shinto philosophy is at the heart of Japan's day to day life.
'The monks' day starts at sunrise with meditation, 'but head priest Reverend Daiko has taken pity on our tired bones 'and let us sleep in, waking us up in time for breakfast.
' Morning.
Good morning.
So, it's 6.
30.
Is it? Yeah.
So, you're supposed to make your breakfast.
OK.
So we have to move.
'Come on, mate! 'The chef who cooks the monks' food 'also works at a Michelin-starred restaurant, no less.
'And we're going to help him make breakfast.
Up and at 'em!' Forget cereal and toast! We're making two types of soup and five side dishes.
Shiba-san.
Nice to see you.
Thank you.
Great to see you.
Thank you.
'Chef Shiba tasks us with making tofu dumplings.
'I think this is penance for oversleeping this morning.
' So, you're mashing the tofu to make it smoother.
Yeah.
It's a lot of work.
Yeah.
It's a lot of discipline.
Which is part of being a monk! Yes.
This type of cooking has a special name in Japan - Shojin Ryori.
The pursuit of enlightenment through cooking.
And presumably, this cuisine purifies your body as well? Yes.
'For the Zen Buddhist, cooking is considered a type of meditation.
'The aim is to banish worldly thoughts, focus on the food 'and aim for limitless perfection.
'We could learn a lot from these monks, Kingy.
' There is a feeling of wanting to get it right, isn't there? 'The dumplings are stuffed with edamame beans, potato 'and gingko nuts, which some people believe help with mood and memory.
'They should always be used in moderation though 'as they're poisonous if eaten to excess.
' The Shojin cuisine looks very easy to cook.
But it's the most difficult.
'The attention to detail in plating up is everything you'd expect 'from a Michelin-starred chef, but with added value.
'Buddhist philosophy dictates every meal should include five colours, 'white, red, black, yellow and green.
'As well as looking lovely, 'it also helps make sure you're getting all your vitamins.
'With food like this on offer every day, no wonder there's been 'a sharp rise in the number of Buddhist monks in recent years! 'Monks can also get married and have families, 'so that probably helps with the recruitment drive.
'A monk should always eat healthily and in moderation 'so portion sizes are small.
'Which is something else we could learn from the monks, don't you think?' So, please enjoy.
Thank you.
Oh! Anybody ever says tofu is boring, they have to taste this.
Yes.
This is absolutely gorgeous.
Is it? I have to say, I have said that tofu is boring.
It's so good.
Sesame tofu is Oh, wow.
.
.
it's very mild.
Oh, yeah.
'Oh, no.
'I'm a tofu convert, dude! 'And those are words I never thought I'd hear coming out of my mouth.
' Before you were a monk, what did you do? Did you have You were a student? Yes, I was a student.
Did you go to discos and ride motorcycles? Yeah! So, normal life.
Normal life.
So, um, I was a big supporter of Liverpool football club.
Hurray! Great! So, when I was at graduate school, after university, I visited Anfield stadium.
Yeah, yeah.
That's a wonderful stadium.
Yeah, wonderful stadium, yes.
What was it that made you decide I've seen Anfield, I'm going to be a monk? At first I did not want to be a priest.
Because it is, um out of fashion, right? At that time, I thought it out of fashion.
But I felt very honoured to be wanted.
To be part of it.
To take over the temple and be part of it.
Yes, yes.
So that is a bigger reason.
I think I can honestly say that that was the finest breakfast I've ever had.
Really? Thank you so much.
Thank you very much.
'After brekkie, the monks meditate for anything up to four hours a day.
'We've visited many places where meditation 'is an important part of life, 'but this is the first chance we've had to try it ourselves.
'Our spiritual guide is Reverend Taka.
' You can sit down, crossed legs.
You can put your left hand just below your belly button like this.
And put your right hand on the top.
And then touch your thumbs to each other.
Like this way.
The most important part here is breathing, so you just focus on your breathing.
So, please take this gesture, pause and then bow.
Right.
Right, you can stretch your legs.
Thank you.
Thank you.
How was it? It was lovely.
It's just about being quiet and still.
And in the modern world we live in, it's very difficult to be that.
So to be taught how to be quiet and still, is a great thing, isn't it, really? Yeah.
It's a nice thing to do.
And it's going to make us better cooks.
That's always good.
'In our time at the temple we've been fed literally and spiritually.
'We want to show our appreciation to the monks by cooking for them.
' Right.
Revitalised by meditation and tea, and we are so kind of Buddhist now we're going three feet off the ground.
We're going to do our tribute to Shojin Ryori cooking, the Buddhist vegetarian cuisine, which is A tofu, aubergine and lotus fruit stew.
Oooh! This vegetarian dish shows off the region's vegetables and the local protein-packed tofu.
Kyoto is famous for its artisan tofu makers who make it fresh every morning like craft bakers do at home.
Mr King, having had his inner eye opened, has started to enjoy tofu after 20 years of abstinence.
I've always enjoyed tofu in its various forms, be it smoked, crispy, soggy, soups.
Convert.
I am, I am.
Shall we begin, grasshopper? We should.
Right.
Now what I've done here is I've taken some firm tofu and cut it into one inch cubes.
I'm then going to toss it in some rice flour.
Now, rice flour, get your heads into using rice flour because it's a really, really clever ingredient.
It gives the tofu a bit of a crunch and stops it falling apart when it's cooked.
But also, they'll go slightly puffy.
And that's, that's what you want.
While Si's been looking after the tofu, I've been on the veg.
A finely chopped onion, two leeks and two aubergines.
It all goes into a hot oiled wok with the aubergines around the edge so they'll brown nicely.
Whilst they're cooking, I'll prepare the ginger and garlic.
I want four cloves of garlic and two tablespoons of ginger.
Yeah.
That's the garlic and ginger.
It's a fair amount.
Thinly slice some fresh lotus root that's been steamed for 30 minutes.
In the UK you can buy lotus root dried or in cans, or if you're really lucky, some supermarkets have started to sell it fresh.
That goes inwith two tablespoons of miso.
And you saute the miso off for a minute.
And then add some of our favourite shimeji mushrooms.
Don't be tempted to eat them raw, they're very bitter.
But cooked, they're delicious! You could use sliced chestnut mushrooms if you wanted.
But there's something about the delicacy and the flavour of those that's perfect.
Ready for the liquid? Absolutely, as soon as you can give us it I'll be very happy.
Right.
300 mls of hot water.
Then add the two staples of all good Japanese food, soy and mirin rice wine.
Bring the stew to the boil and stir the tofu through.
That looks lovely, Kingy.
All the mixtures.
Got to be so careful you don't break the tofu up.
I really, really hope the monk likes this.
It's nice to give something back.
I mean, they've been so generous with their food, their time.
And just their hospitality.
Yeah.
Our tofu, aubergine and lotus root stew is a feast fit for a monk.
And a monk used to eating Michelin-starred cuisine no less! That's so tasty.
This crispy stuff on top.
Thank you, this is wonderful.
Yeah? Yeah.
Oh, thank you! I don't know about you, Kingy, but after all that pursuit of purity, I'm craving something just a little bit naughty.
Well, mate, like an answer to prayer, I've got just the thing.
We're on the outskirts of Kyoto to cook some fast food for a famished five-a-side football team.
We've arrived at Ancha's place and Ancha cooks Ancha is a master of okonomiyaki, which is Well, it's kind of like a Japanese pizza sort of thingy.
No, it's not.
It's kind of like a pancake.
It kind of is.
It's like a bit of a bubble and squeak thing going on, but it's fantastic.
It's just like real food.
It is.
It's fun food, but also Yeahlook at this.
We know it's going to be a good day.
Cos he's a biker! Get in! He's a biker that's a master of okonomiyaki.
Can't wait.
Neither can I.
It's going to be a corker.
Konnichi-wa.
Konnichi-wa.
Konnichi-wa.
Nice to meet you.
I'm Dave.
I'm Gan.
Nice to meet you.
'Gan is the footy team's manager and he and the boys always come to 'Ancha's for okonomiyaki after a match.
' Ancha, show us how to cook okonomiyaki.
'In a bowl, you just mix together cabbage, tempura crumbs, red ginger, 'and a spring onion and an egg.
' Japanese eggs are fantastic.
They've got the biggest yolks.
Really good eggs in Japan.
Also, just a little bit of batter.
Oh! Crumbs! That's a thick batter.
Isn't it? That's like a dough, isn't it? Yeah.
'Okonomiyaki was a lifesaver during World War II 'when there was a rice shortage 'and it's still a great way to make cheap ingredients go a long way.
' Oh, man, that looks good.
I know.
It's the Japanese version of a little bit of what you fancy does you good.
Yeah.
It's highly calorific, which is why the lads come in and eat it and drink beer.
It's brilliant.
The word itself means it can be what you want.
You can put pork in it.
You can put beans in it.
Here it's just thin slices of belly pork.
Look at that.
Superb.
Oh, look, it's moving.
Oh, look at that, man! Ah! It's fantastic and there is an insatiable urge just to pick it up and go isn't there? Well, yes.
I want it.
I would like a plate.
'Hold your horses, dear heart! 'It's not ready yet.
It needs its toppings.
' We can choose a sweet sauce or a spicy sauce.
Uh-huh.
And what's your preference? Sweet one.
Sweet one.
Oh, he's not shy with the sauce.
Look at that.
Oh, mate! Seasoning.
'They're finished off with seaweed seasoning and mayonnaise.
' Oh, look at that.
He's even got a cool mayonnaise bottle.
Ancha, you are the man.
'Ah, finally, I get to satisfy my insatiable urges.
' It's hot.
It's hot, it's lovely, but it's heaven.
I want to cook these at home.
The flavour of the seaweed, the sauce, the sweet, the savoury.
Everything that's in it, and the pork, it's really, really tasty.
And you get that dough feeling to it as well, which is interesting.
There's a definite dough Oh, there's a comfort to it.
It is a duvet of Japanese love.
It certainly is that.
'Oh, I could certainly do an okonomiyaki duvet day right now 'but those boys will be here soon 'wanting their super-duper bubble-and-squeak-pizza-pancakes.
' Ancha-style.
Ancha-style! Gets hotter.
Thank you.
Make me look cool, Ancha.
You look like something from a nativity play at the minute.
Nice.
Oh, it looks good, dude.
Oh, hello, boys.
Hello.
Right, what are we doing? Gentlemen, what can we get you? Pork.
Pork.
Yes.
Pork.
Pork? Shrimp? Three pork traditional, one shrimp.
Go on, go on.
You start laying up, I'll start cracking them out.
Flamin' Nora! Looking good, dude, looking good.
Boys, why do you like eating okonomiyaki? What is it about okonomiyaki that you like? He gets power if he eat.
OK, strength.
Strong.
Can we have another one for the little fella? I believe we're ready to serve up.
Pork? Sweet? Pork? Not the pork? Thank you.
Arigatou gozaimasu.
Sugoi! What's it like? Good.
Delicious.
Delicious? Good.
It's been a great privilege.
It has.
Thank you.
Thank you so much.
Good job.
See, he keeps the best for last.
That's the sign of a good chef.
'In spite of the invasion of Western burger joints, 'okonomiyaki is still the most popular fast food in Japan 'and you know what, Dave, I'm not at all surprised.
' I love that.
What a brilliant joint.
What a great experience that was.
Proper lads.
Night out.
Bit of a drink, and, hey, what about these? I know.
How beautiful are these? I'm going to treasure that.
You know, it's things like this, when you've been away, whenever I cook Japanese food at home, the imperial pinny will come on.
Make sure you wear something else, mate, and not just that.
Why not? My sumo belt! Sumo belt? What a thought! I just love the diversity of food that Japan has to offer.
From Michelin-starred vegetarian Buddhist temples and udon noodles kneaded by foot, to greasy spoons like Ancha's place and now for the Mecca of convenience food the world over - motorway service stations.
Japanese lollies.
Get in! Ooh, they're good.
'Unlike in the UK, service stations in Japan are renowned 'for their speciality snacks and at this one it's all about melon buns.
'Yes, you heard me, melon buns.
'5,000 of these fly off the shelves here every day!' We have discovered another food epiphany.
The melon bun.
Well, let's face it, the only melon buns we've had in service stations is after about 300 miles when you've got a bad saddle.
Ooh! Me melon buns! Right, come on.
'Melon buns are similar to iced buns in the UK.
'An enriched dough with a sweet sugary topping.
'They're so-called because they look like melons.
'The question is what do they taste like?' My mother-in-law's got a bathroom this colour.
If you crossed a sponge cake with wallpaper paste and nail polish remover, you've got a melon bun.
Yeah, it's mingin'.
No, no, no.
Don't be a cultural vandal.
No, no, it's not good, though, mate.
'Well, we are at a service station, Si.
'The one place, wherever you are in the world, where all bets are off 'when it comes to food, whatever it's made of!' It's amazing to think that 150 years ago, no-one ate meat at all here.
But everything changed at the end of the 19th century when the Emperor was seen eating beef and Japan went meat mad.
I mean, it's all right being vegetarian for a bit.
Oh, yeah.
But, ironically, next door to vegetarianism is possibly the world's greatest beef, the wagyu.
The wagyu in the region and principality of Kobe, and, listen, we've waited 20 years for this, dude.
We have, we have.
I can't believe it.
None of this imported stuff that don't taste great.
This is it.
The source of the boeuf Japanese.
The sauce of carnivorousness.
Oh, aye, the most expensive, precious, pampered beef in the world.
I wonder if it's true, Kingy, that they feed them beer and they have to listen to opera as they lie on silken mattresses and are massaged by sumo wrestlers? Of course it is, got to be.
Yeah, it was worth the money.
'The word for cow in Japanese is wagyu 'and Kobe beef is said to be the finest wagyu in the world.
' Kobe is an important and busy port 50 miles south of Kyoto and is world famous for its incredibly tender and expensive beef.
This heavily marbled, delicious and delicately flavoured meat can cost, wait for it, thousands of pounds per kilo.
Oh, you can tell we're in the country now.
There's tractor shops, a smell of fried food in the air, and cow dung.
Perfect.
Lovely.
Got a whiff of manure then.
Did you? Yeah.
'This is where you'd expect to see some cows in the fields, but, oh no! 'These cows are so precious they're not allowed outside!' 'Mr Takami and his son-in-law Mr Takaaki have been raising 'prize-winning Kobe beef for nearly 45 years.
' Good morning.
Good morning.
How are you? Very nice to meet you.
How are you, sir? Nice to meet you.
Pleased to meet you.
Good to see you.
Thank you.
It's wonderful to be here.
We've had several ambitions in Japan.
One was sushi at the fish market in Tokyo.
One was to find the best noodles, which we found in Fuji, and the third was to taste real Kobe beef in Kobe.
'But before we're allowed anywhere near Mr Takami's precious cows, 'we need to be purifiedagain!' Right, Kingy.
Dirty boys go in disinfection booth.
Right, come on.
Crack on.
What do we do? I don't know.
Smells of disinfectant, that's for sure.
There's a button.
Don't press the button.
Hold on.
It's not a button, it's a light.
Push.
Oh, that's No, it's not doing anything.
There must be an on-button.
Oh, Japanese is confusing.
Ah! Press a button.
I've had a vasectomy.
I don't see why I need to be sanitised.
Know what I mean? It's a mysterious country.
In England, we heard that the Kobe beef, it leads a life like a prince.
It's fed beer.
It has massages every day.
It listens to opera music and it lies on a straw bed.
This is not true? Yatte-nai desu.
Nobody give it beer at all.
No? 'I knew it was too good to be true! 'My dreams of pampered cows are falling apart around my ears 'or are they?' So, look at this, Dave.
I'd eat that.
It's like muesli.
What's in here? What's the recipe? This is grain.
Wheatgrass.
Yeah.
And pineapple.
Pineapple? Yeah.
Pineapple did you say? Yes.
Wow, so what's the recipe? The recipe is top secret.
I can't tell you.
Go on.
Go on, nobody'll know.
No.
No, no, no, no.
'I'll get it out of him.
I'll play him Japanese opera till he cracks!' And another story we believe is that people massage the beef which makes for tender beef.
'Personally, I find that getting my hair brushed always puts me 'in a really good mood.
'Maybe there's something in it after all?' Si, he's loving that, isn't he? Yeah.
Maybe this is where the myth about massaging comes in.
'Well, Mr T's clearly doing something right, dude.
'Just look at all these awards!' Oh, wow! Now that is a cabinet of gastronomic delight.
It's a farm shop.
It's a farm shop, Jim, but not as we know it.
This is fantastic.
'Kobe beef is graded according to how much fat there is 'marbling the meat.
' This one is the highest one.
This is Grade A512.
So it's the top in every single category? Yes.
A512 is the best beef.
Do you want to see more? Yes, please.
Ah.
Ah, wow.
What is the fat content of that, percentage? Er, almost 60.
60%.
So that should be the most spectacular piece of beef you've ever eaten because that's full of fat and full of flavour theoretically.
I think that piece of beef retails for around about ã3,000.
Yes, thank you.
We'll just put that back.
Do you eat your own beef? Mainichi tabemasu.
Almost every day.
Do you want to cook some? Yes, please.
We'd love to.
This is a defining moment.
I can't believe it, dude, it's here.
This is a hat-trick, isn't it? Yes, it is.
You know, the hat-trick.
Sushi, noodles, wagyu beef.
Get in! More than that, Kobe beef from the farm that's had awards for being the best beef in Japan.
Doesn't get better than that, does it? Not for two daft northern lads.
What privileged fellas we are.
Thank you.
Arigatou gozaimasu.
And what better way to show our gratitude than to cook lunch for Mr T? Let me introduce to you This isn't just like beef.
This is Mr Takami's finest beef and within that there is some jeopardy and worry, because Mr Takami is going to taste what we do to his beef.
Yes.
We're making sukiyaki, a Japanese stew made from thin strips of beef with vegetables.
Mate, are you ready? I'm ready.
Remember the first cut is the deepest.
You're not wrong, so Happy? Oh, is it a nice slicer? Mr T's come for a butchers, Kingy.
No pressure! What a lovely job, Kingy.
Fine as a fine thing.
The meat is the star of this dish.
Whatever else goes in is up to you.
Do you know what, it's a bit like a Japanese fridge clear-out.
You can put all manner of bits and pieces on it.
We've got mushrooms, celery, Chinese leaves, spring onions and some bamboo shoots.
You can get bamboo shoots in tins at home and some supermarkets have started selling it fresh.
And, of course, my new favourite food - tofu! Mr Takami's had enough already.
He's having a snooze.
Aye.
I mean, it's not our scintillating conversation or what we're doing with his produce that's sent him over the other side.
He gets more sense out of the cows.
And now the moment we've been waiting for! Thin slices like these only need a couple of minutes on each side.
Oh, Kingy, that looks good.
Absolutely fantastic.
Look at that.
Beautiful, beautiful meat.
Just sprinkle over some sugar.
Yes.
Little bit.
Not much.
Lovely.
This is just to help the caramelisation of the beef.
We need to turn that over again.
Set it aside.
One.
Nice.
Look at that.
The sugar's given it a nice kind of bronzey hue.
Then add the rest of the ingredients to the same pan.
Thing is, it's just an organised stir-fry, isn't it? I like that analogy, mate.
I think you're dead right.
Just turn the tofu over, get a nice colour on it.
That tofu is going to take on all the flavours, that lovely beef and also the sauce.
Oh, look at these shitake, Dave.
I think this is done, you know.
I think you're right.
Right? Yeah.
Spoon over a couple of ladles of the sauce which is made from dashi, a fish stock, and, of course, soy and mirin before adding the beef back to the pan.
And that is our beef sukiyaki ready for serving.
You could definitely try this one at home with or without wagyu.
It's up to you! It's quick and easy to make and tastes delicious.
But, is it good enough to satisfy Mr Takami? Come and taste.
See what you think.
Oishii.
He says delicious.
Great.
Fantastic.
Thank you, thank you.
Saikou! We're back in Kyoto, the tourist capital of Japan.
Millions of people rock up here every year, mate, and no wonder.
The city's packed with cultural delights.
We've done the monasteries so what's next in the guide book, Kingy? The Man In The Moon Irish pub! They get everywhere, don't they? You do get the feeling in Kyoto that you could take part in an ancient ceremony of tea-drinking, but also, if you wanted to have an ultra-modern cup of coffee, that's there as well.
Oh, wow.
It's a geisha? Yeah.
I'd never know how to walk in four-inch platforms though.
No.
Noddy Holder managed it though.
Yeah.
In Kyoto, fully fledged geisha are called geiko and trainees are called maiko.
The city's 200 geiko are committed to keeping this 300-year-old tradition alive.
I'm going to experience something truly elegant, historic and beautiful.
We're going for a night out with the maiko.
Now, these women studied the nuances of their culture, and the ceremonies therein, to make travellers like Dave and I welcome.
The maiko will become a geiko, which is the geisha of Kyoto.
Now, there's been a lot of controversy over the years about what exactly the role of a Geisha is, but today they're very much a legitimate part of the hospitality and tourist industry.
It's great.
It's elegant, simple, wonderful.
Not many people live in traditional houses in Japan any more, so teahouses like this offer the chance to see ancient costumes and rituals in action.
Konnichiwa.
Good evening.
Thank you for coming.
Well, thank you for having us.
'A geiko's job is to act as a hostess.
'They serve food and drink, and entertain their clients 'by performing traditional music, dances and games.
' What I'm finding remarkable, as I'm sure Dave is, is that it's still living and breathing and it's still here and it's still part of Japanese culture.
Yes, as you see.
Absolutely.
'Tomitae is one of Kyoto's 70 maiko.
'She's chaperoned by Reiko Tomimori, 'a geiko mother who oversees her apprenticeship.
' Why did this lady want to be a maiko? When she was little she loved to wear kimono and also she loved traditional Japanese music.
How long is the training? About five years before becoming a geiko.
Five years? Wow.
Can it be a long career, being a geiko? I mean, how old can you carry on working? As long as she wants to.
Only one condition - if she wants to get married, she has to retire.
'It costs about ã2,000 a month to train a maiko.
'While they're apprentices, they get paid pocket money, 'but once they've graduated, 'being a geiko can be a very lucrative career.
' 'We're being treated to a Japanese banquet called kaiseki.
'It has up to 16 courses 'and dates back to the days when Kyoto was the imperial capital.
'This meal is more than just food - 'the geiko turn the whole experience into theatre.
' I've never felt so pampered in my life.
It's marvellous, isn't it? That is good sake.
Oh, I see, so Every time you drink it, very kindly the ladies fill it up.
So if we Could we put that down here now and then start to eat? Yes, please! I'm sorry, I should have Cos I'm going to end up very cross-eyed very quickly! The kaiseki banquet includes raw fish or sashimi, pork belly, local vegetables and tempura.
Oh.
Mmm.
Oh, wow.
This is lovely.
It is.
Absolutely lovely.
Would you ask what is her daily routine.
She gets up at eight o'clock in the morning and the first thing she does is comb her hair, because this hair style is with her own hair.
So she goes to the hairdresser once a week so she has to maintain the style.
For example, that the hair accessory changes every month.
So this month the young maiko has to wear the weeping willow for six days.
Six days?! Yes.
'While we're eating, we're treated to a traditional fan dance.
'The term maiko translates literally as "dance child".
' You know, Si, what this experience is like, it's like a good piece of classical music, classical opera.
It's where all the arts come together to be something truly fantastic.
You know, there's the food, the music, the theatre, the spectacle.
Yeah.
All done with quite a lot of gravitas.
It's just lovely, cos it's a layered art form, isn't it? Yes.
That's what we're in receipt of, and that's a remarkable thing.
THEY SING 'And when we've finished, we play parlour games, 'which might look innocent but have a hidden agenda - 'involving yet more sake!' Ah! You have to drink.
Oh.
I lost.
This is so much better than darts.
She said you are very strong, handsome and very cool.
That's very nice, yes.
Never mind, never mind, you'll be all right.
That might be gilding the lily a bit.
'Next up is a medieval fan-throwing game called tosenkyo.
'As far as I can make out, 'it's like Pass The Pigs - but with fans.
' Is this a drinking game as well? Is it a drinking game? This is not a drinking game.
You go first.
Oh, that's loads.
Ooh! See, see! Ah, leave us hanging.
Keep me dignity, Dave.
This is not football.
Can I ask you, Tomitae, what's your favourite rock'n'roll band? What's your favourite pop music? Lady Gaga.
Lady Gaga.
Lady Gaga? Lady Gaga! Do you like the Scorpions? No, they're big in Japan.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, only in your head! What do we do now? I tell you what I'd like you to do now.
What? Can you get us out of this position? I tell you what, it's murdered me.
Would you mind? I'm a bit stuck.
'This road trip through Japan 'has exceeded all our expectations.
' We've waited 20 years to come to Japan.
It's blown me mind, dude.
It's absolutely blown me mind, it's been everything and more that I could ever have dreamt of and ever wished for.
What about you? I thought that I knew about Japanese food, I've learnt a lot off the internet, through going to restaurants, eating loads of takeaways.
But it's not the case.
The Japanese food I've found here is very different.
Yes, it is.
It's a lot purer, it's a lot more gentle, and it's a lot more sophisticated, and I think at home we've got a lot more to learn.
For me, as a cook, it's just blown the bloomin' doors off! Oh, it's blown my mind, dude.
Absolutely amazing.
Amazing cultural experience and great food.
A little cultural good-night sake? I think so, should we? Yes! Let's go.
'Next time, we're in Korea 'for Asian fried chicken' It can't be unhealthy.
Anything that good can't be bad for you.
'.
.
some popular culture' Gangnam style! '.
.
and a glimpse into the future!' I will chop it.
Just put the knife down.
There's no need to be violent.