For our dinner with Atsushi, Kyoto native that he is, Chef Ono found a Kyoto variety of eggplant called kamo nasu at Daido Market. Kamo nasu are squat and round, about four inches or so long, eggplant that traditionally were native to Kyoto, which is a city that's also its own agricultural district (check out my post on Kyoto's heirloom vegetables and soul food, and see this photo of kamo nasu). Atsushi prepared them very simply: He cut off the tops and bottoms so the eggplant could stand upright, and sliced them in half through the middle. Into each piece he cut hash marks, to allow heat to penetrate the flesh. He grilled them slowly and gently on a cast iron griddle, turning the eggplant to it caramelized and cooked through. When they were ready, we ate them with a few drops of soy sauce. The kamo nasu had a much creamier and more delicate texture than ordinary eggplant, and tasted, as you'd suspect, sublime and delicious.
When you try this dish, I'd be grateful if you could let me know in the comments how it turns out. Did it work? Any questions or thoughts?