The show constantly points it out from what I recall.
And the thing is, I get that it is a very touching story, and have much respect for anyone that can overcome such ridiculous absurdity. I can actually appreciate on a smaller scale what she must have gone through because in my youth I was extraordinarily obsessed with fashion, and I chose to go to fashion design school. I was the only male in the vast majority of my classes. While I am sure that wasn’t nearly as hostile of an environment, I still empathize greatly with people that do things that go against their stereotypical or “allowed” roles.
It makes for a great story obviously.
But it seems almost extra to the food. If she just an average itamae and the selling point to eat at N/Naka is her personal story, then the Chef’s Table episode is sufficient for me, I can appreciate her story and respect her, but there’s no real reason to go eat her food. Now, if you are saying that, regardless of gender, she is one of the best itamaes in the world, AND she just happens to also be a woman…then that is a very good reason to go beyond the TV show and actually wait 3 months for a table at her restaurant.
I am guessing this is somehow something that doesn’t make sense to anyone else, but for me, they are separate things. I will try to illustrate I guess… let’s say you had a brain tumor that needed operating on. You are fabulously wealthy, so let’s assume you can pick any neurosurgeon in the world, but only two are free at the moment. You can have either the best neurosurgeon in the world, but it’s a man, and he has a boring story, he went to the best schools, has performed hundreds of successful surgeries, innovated many new techniques and made neurosurgery a better practice; everyone in the field says he is the best in the world. The other neurosurgeon is fully qualified, and not bad by any means, and is a woman. She has a very exciting story about how she had to fight her family because they didn’t think she should be a doctor at all, and had to fight intense sexism at her medical schools, etc… but she finally managed to become a neurosurgeon nonetheless. She has a typical track record, and is not necessarily extraordinary, but she’s not a bad surgeon either. Her backstory is obviously way more thrilling and emotional though.
Which surgeon would you pick as your surgeon?
Another slight issue I am having here – (and this is my own issue because I am unlearned here, so I am hoping someone can explain the details of this more – is that everyone keeps talking about Japan, but we are in Los Angeles, CA. I assume you cannot get trained except in Japan, so she had to go to Japan and be trained, etc… and now she operates in CA. Is the environment just as oppressive in CA as Japan though? Another component of that is when you bring up that she is the only female itamae here, well, isn’t she the only itamae doing kaiseki at all? Doesn’t that mean she has no competition? Or are people comparing her to like Mori, Zo, Shunji, etc…?
Ok, let me end on a positive note; your other comments have been largely about food at the place, which is great. I would really love if you could go more in depth about how she differentiates the place in terms of sourcing and cooking from some other places and describe some of the things you really love about the food itself if you could. You and J_L have made the food sound appealing, but as much as I like J_L’s reviews, I think he and I have somewhat differing tastes; however, you and I clearly have quite similar ones. Of course you’re not required to do anything, but if you would be willing to write out some more in depths descriptions for me I would be exceptionally appreciative.
Maybe you could begin with describing some of the lesser known intricacies of the abalone spaghetti (something I have seen is like a standard dish there and one I would request to try if I go)? It may be a crude comparison, but, let’s say, how would you say that pasta dish is on another plane versus Bestia’s spaghetti rustichella? I know it is not a direct comparison, but I think it would be a fantastic baseline comparison to illustrate the differences and how N/Naka transcends above the other.
Anyway, again, you are not forced to do anything, I am just humbly asking, if you have some free time, and feel like writing more in depth about the food at N/Naka, I would sincerely appreciate it.