Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Year, New Staff, New Stuff....

"Akemashite omedouto gozaimasu!"= Happy New Years!

Its the most important holiday of the year for many Asians, and the Japanese are no different. New Years means special foods will be shared with special friends and family. "Mochi" (sweet rice cakes), red and white "kamaboko" (fish cakes), osechie gohan (rice cooked with red bean) and sashimi are just a few holiday treats. In Japan, ornate laquer ware "ju bako" (stackable bento boxes) are often prepared with exquisitely presented foods that will keep without refrigeration for a few days.

In the past this ensured there would be lots to eat on one of the few holidays when groceries and other businesses closed down. Even the housewives could look forward to a few days off! Meals were prepared ahead of time, and the homemade bento kept in cool areas of the house over the holidays. Nowadays, many department stores offer special order "ju bako" and the fancy versions can cost hundreds (even thousands!) of dollars. Favourites sell out months in advance.

Nowadays, Japanese homes are equipped with refrigerators and other modern convienences. Still, it is rare to have central heating or air con in Japan and many families will store food in a "cool" room. It is also uncommon for a family to celebrate the coming of the New Year without a trip to a favourite shrine or temple. Japanese spirituality or religion is generally a combination of Shinto and Buddhist beliefs.

Shinto is the indigenious Japanese religion/idealogy that encompasses all things, living and otherwise. "Jinja" are Shinto shrines and easily distuinguishable from Buddhist temples. "Tori" are the fantastic gates, usually red, that mark the entrance to a Shinto shrine. Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto is famous for the thousands of brilliant red"tori" (paid for by families or companies) that wind up the side of a sacred mountain. "Kami" is a central concept in Shinto, and refers to the spirit that resides in, and unites all things. Gods, demons and everything in between have a place in Shinto.

Buddhism is one of many early imports to Japan by way of China. It remains a central pillar in Japanese life today. It's a cliche in Japan to say "We are born Shinto , but we die Buddhist". When a child is born or a couple married these events are celebrated by a visit to a Shinto Shrine. Funerals however, take place at Buddhist temples and this is where many rituals honouring the dead take place.

Sanbiki celebrated the holidays with our staff and their families and friends. New Chef Hiro is a new father as well! He got the best Christmas gift! His lovely wife (Seiko) and beautiful daughter (Reina) joined him in Canada in time for New Years! Thats him below with our other new Chef Yama and Marvellous Megumi!

As usual, an amazing assortment of food was prepared and washed down with far too much beer, wine and fruity cocktails. Masato's "te maki" is always popular. Its like fajitas, but Japanese style. Everyone prepares their own "mini maki sushi". It starts with a square of seaweed and a scoop of rice. Load it up with whatever raw or cooked seafood and veggies catch your eye. A dab of wasabi, a drop or two of soy sauce and down the hatch it goes!

There were homemade sweets (Japanese and Western) savoury Taiwanese style pastries, spicy Korean rice cakes and much more! Everyone got to take home leftovers after.

Crannog Ales Party Pigs were empty by the evenings end. Beer leftovers have never been an issue at our staff parties! Strange berry cocktails were consumed by the adults while the little people indulged in Ramune and Calpico.

Those with a sweet tooth were left satiated (albeit perplexed!) with a bizarre sweet rendition of a pizza. It invloved cheesecake, fruit and far, far too much strawberry cream cheese icing, green and red gummies and white chocolate shavings!

Keep in touch!

We'll continue to blog about restaurant news and special events. We'll be doing more fundraising this year as well. We'll start with the Kamloops SPCA and are arranging a Special Bento Dinner for January. $20 per person ($10 to SPCA) with your choice of special dinner bento boxes. Our new dinner menu features hot pots, spicy new sushi and much more. Check our facebook page for updates and we are on twitter as well!

Hope your holidays were happy! Things are getting back to normal and we all look forward to seeing you soon at Sanbiki and Mori Mori.

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