BLOG: Japanese governor brings a feast to Seattle

By Assunta Ng

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From left: South Seattle Community College Pres. Gary Oertli, Mie Prefecture Gov. Eikei Suzuki, Consul General Masahiro Omura, State Sen. Bob Hasegawa (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Oishii!

Giving good first impressions make it harder for others to forget you.

The youngest serving Japanese governor, Eikei Suzuki from the Mie Prefecture, intended to do just that while visiting Seattle on Aug. 23.

Suzuki, 39, brought not only his wit and charm but also a feast for about 80 guests, showcasing some of the best and most expensive treats from Mie Prefecture. The meal took place at the Japan Consul General’s residence and included lobster, abalone, sea bream, sake, and green tea. Oishii (Delicious)!

Suzuki led a 14-member Mie Prefecture delegation separate from the 250-member Hyogo delegation celebrating 50 years of state-to-state relations with Washington.

Mie is the link between Tokyo and Osaka, the east and west of Japan. It has a population of 1.8  million.

The Feast

Imagine the amount of food Suzuki had to ship thousands of miles to impress his guests: 120 individual abalone, 52 pounds of ise-ebi lobster, 36 pounds of sea bream, and more. Each guest also received souvenirs, which included snacks. Suzuki’s generosity was incomparable.

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Mie Prefecture abalone grilled in-shell with soy. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Inside the dining room, the aroma of lobsters and lobster soup made me very hungry during the speeches. This was the first time Mie lobster and abalone have been available in Seattle.

The lobster soup was a special kind of miso soup made with lobster. Each guest could ask for as many bowls as they wished.

In the garden, two servers grilled abalone with a touch of soy sauce.

I haven’t eaten fresh abalone for a while, partly because it is expensive. I can only afford canned abalone during Lunar New Year, and even canned abalone is expensive.

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Miso soup with Mie lobster

The fried rice was another wonderful dish. Cooked with sea bream (Japanese tai) and lobster, the rice was infused with flavor of the ingredients. I had more than three servings.

Ah the sake, many guests appreciated it so much that they toasted each other with wide smiles.

How much would the meal have cost? Let’s do the math.

According to Akira Takeda, senior aide for information and cultural affairs with the Japanese Consulate, domestic Japanese lobster runs between $80 to $100 for 2 to 3 pounds. Abalone costs $65 for just two to three pieces in Japan retail stores. I devoured seven to 10 pieces. Wow! Just my serving alone would have been about $200.

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From left: Gov. Eikei Suzuki, Uwajimaya Chairman Tomio Moriguchi, and Suehiro EPM Corporation Chairman Hiroshi Sakuma (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Suzuki hopes Washingtonians will make business deals with his prefecture. Certainly, he has built a memorable first impression in Seattle. It should definitely open many doors for Mie Prefecture. (end)

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