Japan Part V: The Best of the Rest- Fluffy Meat, Iranian Food, Punk Rock Apartment & Scenes from Tokyo
This post concludes my five part series covering my recent trip to Japan (much to the relief of most of you, no doubt! Yes, this is a food blog, not a travel blog.....). I just wanted to use this chance to talk about the little adventures we had in between all of the big ones.
We did a very food-centric thing while strolling around in Kichijoi one day- we waited 45 minutes in line just to buy menchikatsu (fried meat ball) and korokke. Yup- as we were walking through the shotengai (shopping street) we saw a long line leading to a very small and worn butcher shop. I asked my friend Kazu what the fuss was all about and she told me that this particular butcher shop's menchikatsu was considered to be the best and quite famous by word-of-mouth. You can guess what happened next. We waited, and waited, and I tried to get a peep at these world-renowned (ok, more like Tokyo-renowned) menchi. The air was filled with the meaty scent of frying beef and I could not wait to get my hands on one. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally got to the front of the line and I ordered three menchi and two korokkes (since meat shops are widely considered to make some of the best korokke as well). In my excitement, I forgot to ask for tonkastu sauce which was a serious bummer. Anyway, we sat down on the curb and dug out one of the baseball-sized menchi. I bit into it carefully (it was hot) and discovered a world of juicy and fluffy goodness. I've heard people describe meatballs as being "fluffy" in the past and never really got it until that moment. The meat WAS fluffy- it wasn't dense and packed together like other menchi I'd had. This had glistening pieces of sweet onion and mounds of meat- just packed just well enough to form an airy ball. It was truly the best menchi I'd ever had. The korokke was good but really needed some tonkatsu sauce.
Fluffy menchi meat!
Iranian Food: Bol Bol Restaurant in Koenji
My friends Mayu and Chiba met at a Iranian restaurant called Bol Bol. He lived upstairs and was helping out when she walked in. Six months later, they were married. I had to go to this magical place where love blossomed for one of my best friends. Well, actually my friends just wanted me to go there and I was indeed curious about an Iranian restaurant in Tokyo.
Bol Bol lamb
When J and I walked into the small, second story space, we felt instantly transported back to Iran. Well, not really since we've never been there but it did feel like another world. It was decorated from top to bottom with various Iranian artifacts and we were greeted by Bol Bol-san, the owner/chef. He showed us to a large table and started cooking right away. We started with a light salad, followed by intensely flavorful lamb kebobs which he slipped off of a long, narrow sword, crispy-skinned chicken breast in a tomatoey broth, saffron rice, flatbread and a chicken curry-like dish. Everything was amazing and Bol Bol-san told me the story of how he arrived in Japan ten years prior. We mostly communicated in Japanese and just had a really great time. Bol Bol san was quite the host and showed us photos of parties that he'd throw at the restaurant. He even has belly dancers on weekends for entertainment. If you ever find yourself in Koenji, you should go. And bring a big appetite.
Bol Bol chicken
Punk Rock Apartment
Even though this has nothing to do with food, I just had to showcase my friend and "little brother" Ugo's Higashi-Nakano apartment. I met him 13 years ago when we were both working at Tower Records in Japan- I didn't speak a word of Japanese and he basically helped me learn the language during slow days at the register. He's remained faithful to his punk and goth roots since then and has quite the record and toy collection to prove it.
Think he needs more stuff in there?
The Rest of the Best of the Rest:
The rest of the photos are just various scenes from Japan- things I ate, random people I saw, etc. I hope you enjoyed my Japan series and take a trip yourself sometime. I wouldn't call Tokyo the most relaxing place to visit, but if you want an adventure-filled, fast-paced vacation, it may be the place for you.
Wanna go get some coffee at White Lover?
Little school girls
Negi Toro Don in Asakusa
Omu Rice in Asakusa
Boy at a festival
My old workplace....
Busy Shibuya intersection
Scenes from a crowded train
Shinjuku at dusk
Ladies waiting for a train
Doria, food of the Gods, in Nogata at The Apple Pot
Japan, Japan travel