A Cook's Tour (2002–…): Season 1, Episode 1 - A Taste of Tokyo - full transcript

Tony travels to Tokyo where he discovers a radically new cooking attitude. He visits Tokyo's largest fresh fish market and is introduced to the culinary diets of Sumo wrestlers.

Welcome to my world.

Two escargot!

Ate, frisee.

Two green salads.

OK, hot man here.

Lamb chop!

Steak frite!

Shouldn't you be
doing something?

Two sole fillet
and a pepper steak!

Come on, make the dessert!

Chocolate tart, please!



ANTHONY NARRATING: As a
cook, tastes and smells

are my memories.

And now I'm in
search of new ones.

So I'm leaving New
York City and hope

to have a few epiphanies
around the world.

And I'm willing to go to
some lengths to do that.

I am looking for extremes
of emotion and experience.

I'll try anything,
I'll risk everything.

I have nothing to lose.

First thing you think when
you hit central Tokyo,

you think "Blade Runner."

It's very science fiction,
it's very atmospheric.

You really know
you're somewhere else.

This is far from home.



I knew the kind of kaleidoscope
full of color and light

and flavor I'd find here.

I'm really looking forward
to the psychedelic assault

on the senses.

[DRUMMING]

[LAUGHING]

ANTHONY NARRATING: I'm very
interested in eating my way

through the full spectrum
of Japanese cuisine.

I think almost all modern
chefs are impressed

by Japanese presentation,
the importance of contrasting

textures, colors, portion size.

Embodying all these traits is
Japan's best known contribution

to world cuisine, sushi.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN): Very
violent dreams last night.

You know, full color,
sound, increased heart rate.

And woke up uh, thinking
of sushi. [LAUGHS]

ANTHONY NARRATING:
I'm particularly

fortunate that my liaisons
here are Michiko and Shinji.

Michiko translates
and has, in every way,

paved the way for uh, the
ignorant but enthusiastic

American.

And Shinji, driving,
translating.

And thank god he's a Yankee fan,
so I know I'm in good hands.

All right!

ANTHONY NARRATING:
We're on our way

to meet an Edomae
sushi master, who's

going to show us around Tokyo's
central fish market, Tsukiji.

Edomae sushi is high-end stuff.

Not just because
it's pricey, which

it is, but because of the
uncompromising quality,

preparation, and
presentation involved.

To translate Edomae, what,
what does it mean literally?

Edomae, Edo is uh,
the name of the period

of the ancient Japan.

OK, so it, it really
does mean old style?

Classic version.

SHINJI (OFFSCREEN):
Yeah, classic version.

Yeah.

Sushi is just like
cutting fish--

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN): Right.

And just stick it together.

And fresh.

But Edomae, it's, they
need lots of preparation.

ANTHONY NARRATING: Edomae
preparation standards

are not sushi on the go.

Absolutely uncompromising on
quality, regardless of expense.

It's purist sushi.

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

[INAUDIBLE] I'm very
pleased to meet you.

MR. TAGAWA (OFFSCREEN):
Nice to meet you.

Anthony Bourdain.

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

ANTHONY NARRATING: I'm fortunate
enough during this visit

to Tsukiji to accompany
Mr. Tagawa, the chef/owner

of Karaku Restaurant
in Ginza District.

I have my appropriate
footwear, of course.

ANTHONY NARRATING: This is sorta
like Joe DiMaggio or Lou Gehrig

showing you around
Yankee Stadium.

From the point
that it practically

leaps out of the sea the point
where I pop it in my mouth,

Mr. Tagawa will be by my side.

Prepare to lose your mind.

I mean, just lift off.

Your head will just unscrew
and bounce off the ceiling.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
Tsukiji is acres and acres

of fish, fish, fish.

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

ANTHONY NARRATING: Restaurants,
retail store owners,

and other buyers are
purchasing fish for the day.

[PHONE RINGING]

ANTHONY NARRATING:
Over 2,600 tons of fish

is sold here daily.

That's a big [BLEEP]
tuna sandwich.

First thing you encounter
when you visit Tsukiji is big.

It's really big.

It's really spread out
and the choreography

has to be seen to be believed.

There's a system here.

Everybody seems to know
the moves, except me.

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

Mr. Tagawa's gonna, we're
gonna follow him around

as he does his shopping.

And then we're going
back to his restaurant

and he's gonna show us uh, what
he's gonna do with this stuff.

[SPEAKING JAPANESE
ON LOUDSPEAKER]

ANTHONY NARRATING:
You know, there

are few things that get
chefs as excited as looking

at a really pristine
piece of seafood.

Abalone.

About $40 a piece in the States.

Oh, uh, liver?

Liver, yes.

I want sea eel.

Eel.
MICHIKO (OFFSCREEN): Yeah.

Sea eel.

He can show you a sea eel.

The different kinds of that
eel that we're gonna eat.

ANTHONY NARRATING: Eel is an
expensive delicacy in Japan,

prized not just for its
flavor, but for its legendary--

how shall I say-- stamina
giving properties.

Viagra of the sea.

He looks tasty to me.

[CONVERSATION IN JAPANESE]

ANTHONY NARRATING:
Having pick out his eels,

Mr. Tagawa is now ready to
move on to his next purchase.

See the octopus?

Just incredible.

Just want to start weeping.

ANTHONY NARRATING: Generally
in the life of a chef,

you find yourself
working comfortably

within a certain range
of flavors and textures.

And then suddenly,
you see all this.

Immediately you
want to rush back

to your kitchen to
find a way to work

with what you've just bought.

This octopus is holding
on for dear life.

He's got a death
grip on the tank.

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

ANTHONY NARRATING:
As excited as I am,

the Japanese who live
here seem just as excited.

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

OK, here we go.

Say goodbye.

ANTHONY NARRATING: Seafood
is taken very, very seriously

here.

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

It's got a strange and
terrible beauty to it.

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

ANTHONY NARRATING: Value
is put on good food.

Very fresh.

ANTHONY NARRATING: To
us, food is worthless

until somebody famous
puts a sauce on it.

It's not that way here.

There's a respect
for ingredients

that goes against the grain
of a lot of Western cooking.

One widely used ingredient
is the much revered tuna.

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

So what are we
looking for here?

What is Mr. Tagawa looking for?

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

It's explained this
is the fattiest part,

the most valued part.

We call it otoro.

It's gorgeous.

Big difference, otoro
and everything else.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
It's the equivalent

of a beautifully marbled steak.

Fat is good.

And the rippling
effect through the meat

is what distinguishes that belly
meat from the rest of the tuna.

You, you get that same feeling
of being at Tiffany or Cartier.

I mean, you just look
at this with, with lust.

And, and, you know, just
the subtle difference.

It's like grading gems.

ANTHONY NARRATING: It's fought
over, bid over, talked about

and examined.

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

And you can see,
they're very, they're

very different pieces with
very different qualities.

When you're a chef, you come
down here and you see this,

you're thinking,
you know, what, what

you can do with
these various pieces.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
I can hardly wait

to see what Mr. Tagawa's
gonna do with this stuff.

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

You know, what's the
bit in "Apocalypse Now?"

You know, "I love the smell
of napalm in the morning."

Looks good, baby.

I love the smell of fish and soy
and rice wine in the morning.

It smells like victory.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
I'm always very

wary of stepping into
other chef's kitchens.

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

It's an obstruction.

I'm instantly aware,
chemically, on a cellular level,

when, you know, there are
interlopers in my kitchen.

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

ANTHONY NARRATING:
Despite his resistance,

the octopus still ends up
in Mr. Tagawa's kitchen.

At least he can take solace in
the fact that ending your life

here is a great honor.

I have some
Portuguese friends who

would just go insane over this.

And some Italians.

Now they will put salt.

ANTHONY NARRATING: Salt
is rubbed into the octopus

to bring out the
excess moisture,

as well as add flavor.

There's so many good
things you can do with this.

I mean, I'm thinking
you can grill it.

You know, make a salad of it
grilled or make a salad of it

uh, slowly stewed.

ANTHONY NARRATING: I
understand that Mr. Tagawa

is using his octopus
for a special appetizer.

Tenderizing.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
At the sushi bar,

Tagawa's chefs are
busy making magic

with the fresh fish from
Tsukiji, including the eel.

It sounds fresh.

Even with my, my eyes
closed, it sounds fresh.

And I'm thinking,
nice knife technique.

You do not see this
level of knife skills

in French kitchens.

ANTHONY NARRATING: Despite
the dazzling knife work,

this eel is not
ready to eat yet.

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

He boils 20 minutes.

With sugar.

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]
And then soy sauce.

And that's sake, the rice wine.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
Mr. Tagawa begins

working with the best
of the good stuff.

Otoro.

This is the, this
is the piece uh,

that we saw him pick
out at the market.

And he's breaking
it into components.

The boss always takes
a proprietary interest

in not only the most
expensive stuff,

but also the stuff that
gives him the most pleasure.

At first you tell, you
tell yourself well,

it's because I don't trust
anyone else to handle something

this beautiful and
this expensive.

And then you realize, you know,
I'm doing it 'cause I like it.

ANTHONY NARRATING: Mr.
Tagawa now divides the tuna

into smaller pieces for sushi.

The lesser grade fish
goes into a marinade.

And the really good
stuff gets put aside

for immediate use in its
pristine, fresh form.

I'm experiencing a
pleasurable form of dementia.

Look at that.

That's sex, man.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
Finally, the meal's ready.

Michiko, Shinji and
I sit down to eat.

MICHIKO (OFFSCREEN): OK, kanpai.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN): Octopus.

Octopus.

ANTHONY NARRATING: Our appetizer
is slowly simmered octopus.

It's very tender
and served with just

a dash of sweet plum sauce.

MICHIKO (OFFSCREEN):
The skin is melting.

Mm.

Spectacular.

ANTHONY NARRATING: As
we're eating the appetizer,

Mr. Tagawa himself is
preparing our main dish.

Pieces of uncooked
fish, vinegared rice,

and fresh wasabi are
molded smoothly together.

While this is the most
commonly known form of sushi,

in the exacting standards
of the Edomae tradition,

it takes a lifetime to
master the economy and grace

of movement necessary to
make an artful presentation.

An elite sushi chef
like Mr. Tagawa

trains for more than 12 years.

Oh man.

I was gonna say that I'm
ready to die right now.

But no, I'll be ready
to die after this.

[LAUGHING]

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN):
What do we have here?

MICHIKO (OFFSCREEN): Flounder.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN):
Flounder, yes.

Shrimp or prawn?

SHINJI (OFFSCREEN): Prawn.

Prawn.

And?

MICHIKO (OFFSCREEN): Tuna.
SHINJI (OFFSCREEN): Tuna.

Not just tuna, no.

This is otoro.

MICHIKO (OFFSCREEN):
Otoro [INAUDIBLE].

ANTHONY NARRATING:
Also on the plate

are marinated tuna and raw eel.

[LAUGHING]

Can I just explain, you know?

How can I explain?

Oh wow.

Yeah this, I know what that is.

That's uh--
SHINJI (OFFSCREEN): Sea eel.

That's the sea eel.

You know, you're struck dumb.

I mean, it's almost
you're cheapening

the thing by talking about it.

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

MICHIKO (OFFSCREEN):
[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

I've got a glazed
expression on my face.

It's pure pleasure.

Thank you very much.

How would you like to do
the apprenticeship here?

[LAUGHTER]

MICHIKO (OFFSCREEN): For years!

Oh, I wouldn't do that!

[LAUGHTER]

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

A long, long time.

ANTHONY NARRATING: While I
was refusing Mr. Tagawa's

generous offer, he still had
one very important lesson

on the menu.

I'm ready to die now.

[LAUGHING]

I will have led a full
and rich and satisfied life

at this point.

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

Japanese people consider
the sake as a sacred wine.

So pouring the sake shows, like,
his affection, his friendship.

You know, his like, hospitality.

Hai.

MICHIKO (OFFSCREEN):
It's really important

in the Japanese culture.

And also you pour it back.

It's your turn to pour it back.

Thank you.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN):
Let me get this.

Thank you very much.

ANTHONY NARRATING: The religious
analogy keeps coming up.

There's something
church-like, at least for me.

MR. TAGAWA (OFFSCREEN):
[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

ANTHONY NARRATING: There's
a sense of solemnity here.

There's no nonsense.

There's no distraction.

Nothing fake about it.

Church of food.

I mean, it's the
only church I knew.

Kanpai.

SHINJI (OFFSCREEN): Cheers.

Cheers. [SPEAKING JAPANESE]

ANTHONY NARRATING:
Very cold, iced sake.

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

ANTHONY NARRATING: You get
that ice cream headache

sort of thing.

And you feel it on
your tongue first

and then it works its
way up into your brain.

Thank him.

Thank him for one of the
most incredible dining

experiences of my life.

I will b always grateful.

MICHIKO (OFFSCREEN):
[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Me too.

ANTHONY NARRATING: Leaving
Mr. Tagawa's restaurant,

I'm feeling that my
New York fast food,

fast paced culture
has missed the boat.

For us, uh, restaurants
are like gas stations.

You know, you pull
in, you fill up,

and you move on, preferably
as quickly as possible.

The idea of volume was much more
important than, than quality.

You know, hey, did
you have a good meal?

Yeah, they gave you all
the shrimp you could eat!

You know, that's not a-- I
mean, that's really silly.

You know, bulk.

I mean, it, it explains
a lot about our culture.

ANTHONY NARRATING: Speaking
of bulk, check these guys out.

It happens that I've come
into a one time opportunity

to visit a Sumo wrestling
stable, the gym and home

of the team.

[BIKE BELL RINGING]

And here I come.

I know nothing about sumo.

And uh, I exude ignorance.

ANTHONY NARRATING: Watching
the sumo wrestlers train,

this is like being let
into a secret society.

Sumo is serious
business in Japan.

Something outsiders just
aren't allowed to see.

They're not kidding in there.

These guys are really
going at each other.

[GRUNTING]

ANTHONY NARRATING: Some of
them get tossed out of the ring

and come rolling right at me.

I don't want one of these
guys landing on me, no way.

They'll break me like
a day old biscuit.

Ugh!

ANTHONY NARRATING:
The feeling of being

surrounded by that much bulk.

I mean, what do these guys eat?

I'm interested in what
I heard is sumo food.

Chanko, it's called.

I'm thinking, well, how
un-Japanese this sounds.

Must be bulk food.

You know, high on starch.

You know I had this
idea of, they're

sitting around eating
pasta and big you know,

massive hunks of fatty pork.

ANTHONY NARRATING: I'm
very lucky to be introduced

to Mr. Tamatsuma of
Tamatsuma Stable.

Tamatsuma is a former
champion himself.

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

ANTHONY NARRATING: Today
he's an oyakata, which

is the boss of the sumo stable.

All of the wrestlers
live on premises.

What they eat, when
they eat, these

are all very rigorously
dictated by the oyakata, who

completely controls their lives.

He cooks for them, looks after
their training, their health,

in a quest to make
them the best.

He's an old lion.

And uh, he pretty much uh, saw
me as insignificant curiosity,

I think.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
Nevertheless, I'm

determined to find out the
secret diet of the sumo.

The, the wrestlers have
a tremendous power.

Uh the, the food
that he selects uh,

must uh, reflect the
need for, for this power.

[SPEAKING_JAPANESE]

He says I mean,
people tend to think

that sumo wrestler is just fat.

It is not true.

Actually, they need a balance of
energy and a balance of weight.

Do all the wrestlers learn to
cook as part of their training?

MICHIKO (OFFSCREEN):
[SPEAKING JAPANESE].

Yes.

Behaved a lot, in, in much
the same way five years ago,

if you'd walk into my kitchen
and wanted to talk to my cooks.

Uh, fiercely protective.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
It's one pot cooking.

A lot of guys living
together cook in one pot.

The food is not about, you know,
just getting these guys big.

We're not here building blubber.

I was clearly wrong.

And it's uh, he's looking for
a balance of you know, protein

and uh, you know,
body building food.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
Unfortunately,

that's all I'm able to find
out, at this kitchen anyway.

It's going to take a trip
to a chanko restaurant

to experience the
sumo diet first hand.

After a full day of watching
sumo wrestlers train--

Ugh!

ANTHONY NARRATING:
I'm definitely

ready to eat like one.

We're gonna have a chanko meal.

And I'm hungry.

You hungry?

I'm starving.

Excellent.

ANTHONY NARRATING: Chanko
is the food of the sumo,

and the specialty of
Chanko Edosawa Restaurant.

Immediately it becomes
obvious the secret

to eating like a sumo isn't in
the fat, but in the quantity.

It's a nabe.

Like a big soup.

A big boiling pot of broth
in the center of the table.

Everybody adds something.

You add things in stages.

Originally, the chanko
was made of chicken soup.

Nowadays they cook,
you know, everything.

ANTHONY NARRATING: Beef,
chicken, meatballs, seafood,

mushrooms, green vegetables,
tofu, onions, radishes, egg,

rice.

You can use it all.

And we are.

And of course it's
like uh, the nabe style.

Which is a pot--

Right.

You know, that
provides the hot meal

for the rikishi,
which is wrestlers.

Heee!

So you can see the, the
taste of the soup is changing.

Yes.

Gradually.

ANTHONY NARRATING: I really
had no idea what to expect.

One of the first surprises
is that chanko is fun.

Sort of like a living dish,
in that as the conversation

proceeds and the
subject matter changes,

the character of the
dish can change as well.

It could start out
fairly light but you

can add stronger ingredients.

And of course, as it cooks down,
it become stronger as well.

Ooh, I like that.

But it is-- phew-- spicy.

It's really good.

It's really hearty.

Um, and I like the style of
uh, of, of, uh of cooking

and the style of eating.

I mean, this is fun.

It's casual.

We all sit around,
we all put stuff in,

we all take stuff
out, serve each other.

ANTHONY NARRATING: I
think Michiko and Shinji

take particular delight.

Their whole countenances change
during the course of this meal.

OK, to be served.

Oh.

For friendship.

It's having a chanko.

This is fun.

I like this.

ANTHONY NARRATING: For such an
almost cult-like closed society

of sumo, their food is
perhaps the most accessible

to the everyday American.

I mean, I can see chanko taking
off in the United States.

[CHUCKLING]

I know how he feels.

I'm well on my way.

ANTHONY NARRATING: From
the precision and restraint

of Edomae sushi to the
volume and bulk of chanko

in a 24 hour period.

Eating my way round the world.

It would be
intimidating I think,

if it just wasn't so exciting.

I think it's gonna take about
a week to walk off this meal.

[MUSIC PLAYING]