I had many different types of cuisine during my recent Japan trip, one that was very interesting was a seafood lunch. That in itself wasn’t anything special. Don’t get me wrong it was delicious as I love seafood, but it wasn’t spectacular compared to the other meals I had in Japan. What made the seafood lunch interesting is the culture behind it. It was cooked by the Ama divers in Japan.
Arriving for my seafood lunch
If you missed my previous post, you can read about my experience of going diving with an Ama at Ise. After going out to sea with Ama to watch her dive, I went to have lunch cooked by them the next day. The setup of the restaurant is at a traditional Ama hut, very much like the ones they use to rest during their dives. When we arrived, we shown our lunch which was already laid out on a tray by the entrance. This is for the four of us, with one more lobster to come.
Then we were then shown to our seats inside. There were rows of tables around the side of the room and a barbeque on the ground in the center. The Amas were already busy cooking for the customers when we arrived. It was very fascinating to see them kneeling on the floor and crouching over the barbeque. I know I definitely couldn’t kneel on the floor for such a long time, and I doubt I can do it when I get to their age!
Seafood cooked to perfection
It didn’t take long for the Ama’s to cook our seafood lunch. Very soon, I was tucking into some delicious seafood that was still fresh and moving half an hour ago. All the seafood were cooked to perfection. I really have to take my hat off to the Amas, as cooking seafood, especially over a charcoal barbeque is not an easy task. A minute over or under can make all the difference between good and not so good seafood.
Help was at hand for the lobster as there were no cutters or anything. Ama made sure that I didn’t ruin the lovely lobster and helped me to deshell it when it was still piping hot. Very soon I had a lobster tail lollipop. You could tell I was a happy bunny!!
After lunch performance
After the seafood lunch was served, one of the Amas gave us a talk on the Ama culture and how they dive. To be honest, I didn’t find it that interesting since I had already heard and saw it first hand the day before. This is not disrespecting the Ama and the culture, but I think it is very difficult to appreciate something so valuable like this during a 5 minute talk. So I’m very glad that I did the diving experience the previous day.
The final event of the seafood lunch was the Amas performing a traditional dance. They invited everyone to join them, but only one local girl was brave enough to do that. I was happy to sit and watch them dance from my seat.
My after thoughts
As I said at the beginning, this isn’t one of the best meals I’ve had in Japan. The others were just on a different level and not comparable. I also felt that the the whole meal was rather rushed. The Amas were continuously cooking the seafood over the barbeque, as they should. But that meant I had to hurry with my food as seafood loses its flavour when it gets cold.
Also, I like a bit of vibe at restaurants. While it was very interesting to watch Amas cook, the whole room was rather quiet. My party of four sat on two separate benches side by side and that made chatting a bit difficult. The other two groups didn’t seem to speak amongst themselves much. So overall there wasn’t much communication going on in the room.
If you ask me if it’s worth coming, I probably would still say yes. But I would highly recommend the diving experience with Ama if you have time and don’t mind splashing out a bit.