Monday, January 19, 2009

Kassen Ichiba, Otemachi (活洋市場の大手町2号店)

Having lunch with different friends is good, my friends, because they surprise you with destinations you wouldn't otherwise think of. I'm in office-building-basement mode for lunch (unless Oazo is involved), but my friend Fred is decidedly not (not the one who was scared of still-twitching shrimp, but just as bald!). He's now driving to work since the trains are, well, uncivilized, and on the walk from the parking garage to the office, he passes a row of restaurants under the Yamanote sen tracks (like last week's dismal ramen). And that's where we went, to the first one in line.

There are only 6 branches of Kassen Ichiba according to the web site, but since they're all around this area, I've seen the signs tons of times and had the impression that it's a huge chain. This branch is a little decrepit. I guess not in a bad way, but sort of like it hasn't shaved for a week and is living kinda rough. Outside there were these odd beaded curtains that made me think it was an Indian place for a second, but then I saw the fried foods 'n' sushi.

Menu is 2/3 seafood rice bowls, 1/3 fried stuff rice bowls. We went the fish - buri & negi toro for Fred, Kassen don for me (negi toro, maguro, saba, shrimp, egg). Mine was quite fresh - low, low, quality, but fresh. Does that make sense? Like, the negi toro didn't have much taste, and the maguro had pretty thick tendons in it, but what can you expect for Y800? This left us spending part of our lunch discussing how you wouldn't get this kinda thing outside Japan, and another part discussing Fred's trip to Sushi Isshin in Asakusa.

Donburi come with soup, and there are thermoses on the tables for you to pour your own tea, which looked for all the world like dishwater once it was poured into the dirty-looking (which is different from actually dirty) plastic glasses.

EOITwJ has recently been accused of excessive completism, reporting on places like this (or the counter curry, or the crappy croquette) but I've talked it over with the staff, and we all agree that it's fair game.


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