Friday, May 23, 2008

Tokyo Dining Scene

Have dinner with Reiko, a friend of mine living in Tokyo. When we decide where to eat, she suggests the following: motsunabe, jingisukan, free-range chicken from Miyazaki prefecture (southern Japan), Okinawa cuisine (Okinawa is one of the southernmost islands of Japan), dojo (oriental weather loath), lamb shabu-shabu, game barbecue, shamo, oden, macrobiotec diet, and so forth. Can you believe such a wide variety of options available in Tokyo? People in Stockholm, where good dinner is almost always in French style, certainly wouldn't. Bear in mind that what Michelin Guide Tokyo revealed is just the tip of iceberg.

I pick game barbecue. Known as gibier in Japan, it has recently become popular in Tokyo because game meat contains less fat than standard meat. Fat-conscious Japanese girls love such food. Reiko takes me to a gibier restaurant named "Matagi ga machi he oritekita" (meaning that matagi has come down to the city; even by Japanese standards, it's unusual that a sentence is the name of a restaurant...) in Nakameguro, an area of Tokyo which has become trendy during the last five years.

The restaurant has a minimalist, stylish decor with aluminum pipes hanging from the ceiling above tables. Shichirin on which game meat is barbecued is placed under the pipe so the smoke goes out of the restaurant through the pipe. Tokyo and Seoul have many restaurants like this, but for the first time I see a restaurant that places such indoor barbecue pipes in a stylish way.

We have pheasant, boer, and moon bear. I never thought I would eat moon bear. Pheasant, boer, and moon bear taste like chicken, pork, and beef, respectively, but the texture is more consistent to the extent that it is still easy to bite. Meat is served with yuzu pepper, a spice that has recently become very popular in Japan. It goes quite well with barbecued meat.

Including half a bottle of Chilean red wine, two plates of vegetable, and homemade salted pork, we pay 9,000 yen (55.21 euro) in total. Given what we eat (i.e. something unusual to eat), do you still think Tokyo is the most expensive city?

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