Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Heavenly Neighborhood Yakitori

Restaurant: Kushi-waka-maru / 串若丸
Neighborhood: Nakameguro / 中目黒
Style: Yakitori-ya / 焼鳥屋
Website: None that I know of, but google 串若丸 or kushiwakamaru for lots of reviews

This is one of those places that makes living in Japan special. I was hanging out at another restuarant, the extremely sociable Pampa in Meguro, when another customer recommended Kushi-waka-maru to me. This fellow customer also explained the origin of the name to me: it's a complicated wordplay on a Edo-era historical figure combined with 串 / kushi, the character for the skewer in yakitori cuisine.

My friend Atsushi was up visiting from Kansai the first night we went, and so we met the most infamous part of Kushiwakamaru, the long wait for a table. We waited almost an hour, which is almost unheard of in Japan (rather than waiting, you just go somewhere else). The wait was inconsequential after we got to taste the food, though. Everything was absolutely top-of-the-charts among yakitori-style restaurants and we spent the evening chatting with the couple sitting next to us.

Tonight I grabbed late dinner there which only reinforced what an awesome place this is. The highlight of tonight's meal was the toriwasa, which is raw chicken with wasabi and shoyu. I've had chicken tataki at a number of places, but was little rolls of tataki chicken with very little in the way of added flavoring. Oh my goodness, so delicious. As a bonus, while I'm pretty sanguine about eating things in Japan even if it's raw chicken, but I don't think I'd try this in rural China, so it's a definite Japan treat.

Besides that, I had a salad (the battle in Japan is to try and get your greens), some scrumptious tsukune, anogo shiroyaki, and of course some dashimaki tamago. It's an "I feel lucky to live here" feeling. Kushiwakamaru isn't particularly expensive, even if you eat a lot your food bill will be 3000-4000円 and you can easily dial that down if you're on a budget. Beers are a normal 600円 or so.

Seriously, you can wait a long time here; come early or be ready for a good time hanging out in line.

1 comment:

Alex Wright said...

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Alex Wright