Last year my husband and I took a trip to Japan and had a thrilling 3 weeks there. We visited Kyoto and stayed at a traditional ryokan, (inn). Staying in the ryokan was an amazing/overwhelming experience that included getting naked in public (a story for another day), a 12-course dinner, beautiful sites and a traditional Japanese breakfast. We ate numerous meals, but the ryokan was the most interesting. The hubs and I visited the Otagi Nenbutsu-ji temple, which is a buddhist temple with over 1,000 quirky and interesting statues. We LOVED it! The statues were placed in 1981, so they aren’t particularly ancient, but they are still wonderful.I was especially happy to find a statue holding a camera. A kindred spirit!After site seeing we had a lovely experience at the ryokan and the next morning we were given the choice of a ‘western’ or ‘japanese’ breakfast. We laughed at the stupid westerners that couldn’t handle a Japanese breakfast and promptly opted for the most traditional breakfast possible! It seemed like a great idea until we sat down to the table and had NO idea what were were about to eat. I love trying new things, but this was definitely out of my comfort zone. You know that experience you have when you got to a fancy restaurant and suddenly realize there is much more cutlery than you are know what to do with. Why are there 4 forks, what is this mini plate for, am I supposed to use the small spoon for dessert, soup… ? This was just a taste of what it was like to eat traditional japanese breakfast. There were so many plates and ornate boxes with little treasures inside. I didn’t what was garnishment or food. At one point I managed to ask what to do with this cup of liquid only to discover it was just a cup of tea, which was the only thing I knew what to do with. It was beautiful and amazing, but we had no idea what were eating and what sauce went with what. A lot of it was delicious, but a lot of it we weren’t sure about. This could have been because we were pairing sauces with the wrong food. I did recognize rice, soy sauce, fish (pretty sure) and maybe.. tofu. The service was impeccable. Though the employees didn’t speak English, and we struggled with awful Japanese, they still took care of our every need and made it a great experience for us. The view was so beautiful it was surreal. Boats floated by and I kept feeling like I’d fallen into a movie. It was one of the highlights of our trip!We were awkward and confused, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.
A couple of weeks ago I got invited to the soft opening of Local Taco. I walked in hungry, but I waddled out so so full and so so happy. The restaurant is located at the Shops at Merchants Walk, close to downtown Huntsville, but also convenient to my neck of the woods, Madison. The restaurant has a cool, open floor plan with hip, clean decor. The polished concrete flooring and restoration-style lighting makes this place perfect for young professionals, but it also very accommodating to families. It’s a great versatile place with delicious food. The hubby came with me on this adventure and we both had a blast. We started out with a quadruple sauce tray that included guacamole, two types of salsa and smokey jalapeño queso. Everything was delicious, but our favorite was the queso. We KNEW we needed to pace ourselves because we would be served numerous dishes, but everything was so good that we royally failed. With our dips and chips we each had margaritas: mango strawberry and peach strawberry. Both were too yummy for their own good.Then the tacos started coming out. This is when we over indulged, but the food was so good. All of it! We started with the chef’s recommendations and got Nashville Hot Chicken (one of my several favs!), Al Pastor, El Carnicero, and the Mission Smoked Chicken. We did spilt the tacos, but they are still quite filling. They also have gluten-free options, so it is a great place for dietary restrictions. At further recommendations we went with the Dory, a catfish taco with pickled onions, coleslaw and pico. It was by far my favorite taco. The restaurant is officially open, so make sure you pop in. If you are a catfish fan it is imperative that you order the Dory. You won’t be disappointed!