24/05/2015

Dada dinners: Kansai-style Sukiyaki



My dad visits Tokyo pretty regularly; supposedly for me but I have a hunch that he just uses me as an excuse to keep coming to the country that he fanboys over!!

I call his visits, "Dada visits" and they can be a great time; I get to sleep in a hotel bed and live closer to school for a couple days, sometimes he brings my brothers along so I get to spend time with them, I get to do some shopping, but most importantly, I get to eat at all the restaurants I couldn't otherwise afford on my college student budget! (and I get to order whatever I want).. Dada dinners.




Some kids I saw on the train that day playing chopsticks. When we were younger my cousin Mariel and I would play it on the reg to pass the time in church. The photo is square because I needed it to be Instagram-ready... I'm sorry I'm such a teeny bopper

Dada dinners also means I get to introduce him to some friends from Tokyo so this time, I invited my friend Afnan who I met at my gym. She's great and she is officially the second reader/fan of my blog!! Hi Afnan!

After a gruelling workout, Afnan and I headed to my dad's hotel to meet up with him-- but not before a quick stop at the Hokkaido Cheese Tart stall at the JR Shinjuku station to buy some dessert. We also needed to buy obligatory roadies, because really how can you possibly resist?? I specifically asked for the more toasted ones.
Side note: I hope my hand doesn't look too weird; I posted a photo of my hand holding up an ice cream on Reddit that got pretty popular (Front page, SON) and I got enough comments to convince me that my hands aren't normal girl hands :(

After we met up with my dad we walked to Kabukicho (Shinjuku's red light district) to find restaurants to eat at. I know what you're thinking, but among all the host clubs and girly bars are hidden food gems that are often overlooked!
We were deciding between two neighbouring restaurants, both of which had kanji names and menus that none of us could read. One looked like it was all yakiniku and the other was shabu-shabu/sukiyaki with other stuff, so for the sake of variety, we chose the latter. We also chose it because we thought we could get yakiniku as well, but we were sadly mistaken. But the Sukiyaki was still good!

Afnan and I chose their "おすすめ コース" (Recommended course) and this was their starter course. From top left to bottom right:
  • In the small China cup: Slimy, salty/sour-tasting seaweed dish whose name I'm not sure of. It's pretty common in Japanese cuisine and I've definitely seen it around but I don't really like it. 
  • Wrapped in leaf: Salmon sushi with torched with dried yuba (tofu skin). It was good, but nothing to write home about. 
  • Under leaf that looks like marijuana leaf: Asparagus wrapped in the restaurant's top-quality beef
  • In jello: It was exactly what it looks like. Shrimp in a clear, savoury broth-flavoured gelatin. I think there was something stuffed in the shrimp but I don't remember it anymore. I do remember not particularly loving it, just because it because of the mushy texture of the filling. The leaf on top is small but it packed a lot of flavour. It's called sancho and it's usually dried and crushed into flakes to put on gyuudon or unagi. 
  • Fried: I'm not sure what fish it was exactly but it was a white fish tempura with sprinkled nori on top. 
  • To the right of tempura: some sort of candied white fish; my guess is gindara.
  • Wrapped in leaf: Mochi. It was pretty sweet and seemed out place; but maybe because I was supposed to eat it at the end of everything. 
  • Bottom right: cubed cheese with ikashiokura (preserved squid). This was actually my favourite appetiser! The saltiness of the ikashiokura and the richness of the cheese really worked together and the squid gave it a nice chewy bite to it. 


There are two main cooking styles that come from different regions in Japan: Kanto (east) and Kansai (west). The eastern way of cooking it is to put the broth in first, then the meat, then the vegetables. With the western way, they rub the pan with a chunk of fat to coat it, then cook the meat first, then pour in the sauce. We had it the Kansai way. 


The waitress helped us cook it so she served us the first batch of meat and added the rest to cook along with the veggies and noodles. 


How to eat Sukiyaki: you dip everything you're about to eat into a beaten raw egg. I'm not sure why, but it works. 

The place was on the 5th floor of a building the depths of Kabukicho. Its name was in Kanji so I'm not sure what it's called either :\
It looked like a Japanese village, which I noticed is a common interior design choice for many Japanese restaurants here and abroad. 
Overall, it was a yummy dinner and I would go again if I wanted to eat Kansai sukiyaki. But even though their meat was apparently top quality, if it was between this and Imahan in Takashimaya, I would definitely choose Imahan. It's also easier to find! :P 

Coming up: Dada Dinners: Lunch in Maisen! I was going to combine the two since it was in the same Dada Visit, but I think this post is long enough!

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