Ichi The Kiichi (The Early Years) III

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day 2. part 2.

Lots and lots more great press… yadda yadda… 

We actually had all the head retailers of all the CD-retailers from all over Japan come in to have us demo our new album, videos, artwork, and basically be the salesmen of the new record: it went amazingly… but it made me hungry.

Dinner was a place that Koji told us had just opened a few months ago (which is pretty damn rad, considering we’ve always hit places that Koji was able to sample before (most of the time previously with us). It was a floor full of indoor kiosks. It was like a little indoor street food market you’d see somewhere like in south east Asia. Some of the tables were beer crates with little stools; some of the seats were mop buckets; there were all sorts of people in the place… families, people returning from work, fashionable rocker/cyberpunklooking japanese youth kids, and a waiter who removed his tattoo coverers to compare tattoos (tattoos are still looked down upon very much so in japan due to the association with the japanese mob – so it was cool the guy chanced being seen by his boss to compare ink.)

This was one of the coolest damn places i’ve seen in Japan. All these options! There were places that JUST did pork; only served chicken; yaki-tori spots; korean; okonamiyaki joints (which is one of the greatest japanese dishes there is… it can only be described as a japanese pizza – but it’s not even close to a pizza); and then… there was Meat Dojo. Unaji. A place known for it’s preparations of beef. 

We had proper Kirin (or maybe it was Sapporo… uh oh… there was lots of it… i think it was Sapporo- and yes. Japanese Sapporo. Not Toronto-Japanese-Beer) – lots of it. 

I excitedly decided… “hey. let’s eat some here… some over there (pointing)… some over there…” We were going to food hop till we dropped. 

The first dish was beef tartare with green onion, on top of Japanese mint. The beef was all japanese… all raw… and all fantastic. It had crunchy bits of (what i think was onion, or something onion flavored and textured) lined inside of it. It was prepared like Kofte would be… just prepped into that beautiful rectangle. 

My cohorts in crime: Koji and Corey.

Next was the second stomach of a cow. Koji told us that every single one apparently tastes completely different. This one… reminded me of al-dente gnocchi. I know some cringe at the thought of offal – but lemme tell you – this is the good stuff. In olden days, people utilized all parts of the animal; that’s the way it should be. If our poor cut critters on the earth gotta die for us – may as well utilize every bit, not waste anything. The texture had that gnocchi and tripe thing going on. Koji mentioned that the parts that look like tripe (like the kind you see in menudo) are called the “bee combs” in Japan. I like that. The sauce reminded me of okonamiyaki sauce – sweet and savory at the same time… the been sprouts and greens along with the stomach completed magically. 

The last bad boy was grilled beef with japanese mushrooms. I’ve always been into mushrooms… but not like really into mushrooms; pretty much until the last few years. James Petrakis’ Ravenous Pig in Orlando, FL is one of the most fantastic food spots back home; i’d easily say it will go head to head with whatever NYC, Chicago, or SF could throw at it – and my friend Jason, who works there, is always recommending the best of the best at the Pig. Petrakis definitely got me into mushrooms; he uses some of the baddest-*** mushrooms i’ve ever eaten- and since James’ cooking: i’ve been a mushroom freak. (More on the Pig on a future blog, but back to Japan) 

So the beef was amazing. What i love about beef in Japan, is that it tastes like beef; it has the texture of beef (i know these seem like obvious statements, but let me explain) in the states, i feel beef and steak are made to overly soft; an almost hamburger-esque texture seems to be what we’re so trained to be used to for meat. Yeah, a filet is supposed to have a more delicate texture and all; but this beef: it feels like you’re eating beef – and it’s a beautiful thing. It has that nice chew to the fibrous-muscley-areas, and variations with fat, differing areas of the flesh – it’s not systematic – it’s natural. I love Japanese beef – it’s clean flavored of steak – it tastes like meat, and chews like meat. The mushrooms? There is no other description other than “awesome.”

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