FUMI: what a Japanese Christmas dinner looks like.
According to a few Japanese friends, the most popular thing to have during Christmas is actually a bucket of KFC fried chicken or a candlelight dinner for two at a romantic restaurant. The 25th of December is a day for Christmas parties with friends or a second Valentine’s Day in Japan to spend with your lover. But the Christmas dinner menu in FUMI is neither fried chicken nor the festive fixings as we know it. It’s more reminiscent to a warm ryokan (Japanese hot springs) meal eaten on a cold winter’s day.
Starting off with a salad of fresh shrimp sashimi, baby lettuce and salmon roe. It was served with a dry glass of sake. Then came a plate of sashimi featuring squid, two different white fish and otoro. Sashimi is the last thing we think about to have on Christmas Day. But this is a Japanese Christmas, and we aren’t complaining-- it’s quality sashimi.
The warm dishes starts with the third course of grilled nanbu chicken with homemade teriyaki sauce in “Chikuzen” style. “Chikuzen-style”, from our knowledge anyways, is a dish of meat and vegetables simmered in a dashi or similar stock and served like a stew. This particular dish had boneless chicken pieces grilled just with salt and simmered in a house-made teriyaki sauce. It was served along with the fourth course of pearl rice served inside a ohitsu (Japanese rice container) and over a candle flame. The chicken dish was simmered with several Japanese vegetables from lotus root to satoimo (yam). The whole vintage-y look of the combo made the meal taste even more heartwarming and homely.
The fifth course is the ultimate winter dish of oden. A soup of fishcakes and vegetables boiled in a dashi-based broth. FUMI’s Christmas version features the red aka konnyaku. A konnyaku, to describe this as best as we can, is like a jelly made out of some kind of Japanese potato. It really doesn’t have any strong flavour, but it’s the texture most people love it for. Konnyaku is very much a home food, a ‘filler’ food in a way, in homely dishes. But in this oden, it’s the superstar, bright red to symbolise the season of Christmas, it’s one of the highlights. Along with the konnyaku, the oden featured satsuma fishcakes, whole pearl onions and parboiled whole eggs.
The last course was the dessert, a soft vanilla mousse shaped like a Christmas tree. It didn't taste particularly special, just mousse. But it was adorable and Christmassy, so it ticks enough boxes for us.
TLDR: The dishes are pretty homely. No grand feasts with this one. Quite reminiscent to a homely and heartwarming wintertime meal you would find in a ryokan. The highlight of the night was the oden served with a special red “aka” konnyaku from Omihachiman located in Shiga Prefecture. The pearl rice is served in a really beautiful traditional ohitsu (rice container). Worth going for a different kind of Christmas meal!