Recipes for a new life in Japan



Source: The Japan Times

Nwe Nwe Kyaw arrived in Japan 12 years ago, the wife of a political refugee from Myanmar granted asylum in Japan. In Yangon, she had been a teacher; here she had to figure out something else to do.

“There were no Burmese restaurants in Japan where the (authentic) taste hadn’t been erased. So I thought I would try to introduce real Burmese flavor to Japan,” said Kyaw, who, in a cardigan and wire-rimmed glasses, still looks like a teacher.

In 2002, she opened Ruby (3-8-5 Takada, Toshima-ku, Tokyo) in Takadanobaba, where much of Tokyo’s Burmese community lives. It has since become the place to go for an authentic bowl of mohinga, a noodle soup seasoned with ginger and lemongrass that is sold from street vendors everywhere in Myanmar. At Ruby it’s delicious.

So is the tea-leaf salad (laphete thote), another Burmese staple. Myanmar is perhaps the only place in the world where tea leaves are eaten. The bitter greens, pickled, are tempered with cabbage and then ramped up with fried peanuts, beans and sesame seeds. Comfort food for some, and a wonderful discovery for the rest of us.

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