If you’re a fan of Asian food, perhaps you’ll agree with me that one of the biggest differences between Japanese and Chinese food is one of presentation. If you go to some Chinese restaurants here, the food will be lovely, but decor often seems like an afterthought. You’re seated on a folding chair underneath a naked fluorescent tube buzzing like a mosquito, your delicious Szechuan meal served on a card table on the verge of collapse. A lady, who you hadn’t even realised worked there until just now, screams across the room that table 4 needs more rice gruel NOW.
If you go to a Japanese restaurant, on other hand, presentation is more often than not taken very seriously. “You eat with your eyes” is the motto here. Subtle, atmospheric lighting. Tables and chairs build from classic, dark hardwoods. Attentive wait staff who unobtrusively glide around the room like the soles of their shoes are coated in satin. Dishes arranged just so to bring out the colour and shape of each of the individual ingredients.
This philosophy is extended to the supermarket too: perfectly uniform produce with nary a bruise or imperfection among them. Strawberries that seem to be identical in colour and shape, lined in perfect little rows in their tray:
Or maybe cherry tomatoes just as meticulously sorted, but with the addition of a single yellow highlight in each cup for dramatic effect:
I didn’t have to go out of my way to find these, either. Almost all the supermarkets I go to present their fruit and veg like this. No big bins of bulk Brussel sprouts here for you to stuff into a bag. Why, how perfectly crude that would be!
Apparently disharmonious produce is against the law here. That, and paying a reasonable amount for a mango.