Monday, February 23, 2009

Urizun, Marunouchi (うりずん、新丸5階)

On a tear with the Shin Marus these days, aren't we? In response to a recent conversation with one of our most dedicated and fatherly readers, I counted the actual number of restaurants. Minus the 'specialty shops' and coffee places and supermarkets and dedicated bars, Shin Maru alone has 4 restaurants in the basement, 1 on the ground floor (hello Pierre Gagnaire), 1 on the 4th floor, 27 on the 5th floor (!), 5 on the 6th floor and 7 on the 7th floor (though part of the overall 'House' complex). I fear it may yet take some time to get through the remainder of these 45 places, and the map will look like all hell before it's over...but Urizun is great, so maybe I'll just keep going there!

Early signs today pointed to Igrek as Tex and I set out from the office, cleverly taking the 'we forgot our umbrellas' route underground and adding 15 minutes to the walk. And I looked seriously at Delizioso Firenze last week with Ponkan. In the end we were scared off both by the Y1800 price tags, and settled in at the surprise choice: Okinawan specialist Urizun.

I didn't know it was Okinawan-themed until we got in. Then the awamori bottles, the Okinawan singing on the overhead, and the sanshin in the corners clued me in that there would be chanpuru in store. The staff denied us the opportunity to sit on actual chairs, being only two people, so we settled on the stools by the window (good view of the Mitsubishi Trust building) and looked at other customers, mostly women, being seated at tables and in the semi-proate horikotatsu areas.

There are 5 or 6 lunch sets, all variations on the theme of chanpuru. OK, not quite. But there IS goya chanpuru, and fu chanpuru, and tonkatsu chanpuru...OK, not quite. Just regular agu, black pork from Okinawa. In addition to tonkatsu, there was a sort of kakunidon (stewed pork belly slices on rice). All were around Y1250, and the sides were excellent.

Each set came with the flavored rice (we thought it was chicken, but I'm not so sure now), a sort of meaty gomoku concoction that was so good I had to ask for a second bowl. And a massive serving of some type of Okinawan seaweed that's like mozuku, but bigger and brown and a little les slimy. I can't believe I actually like mozuku's that sweet, slimy, vinegary goodness that works so well together. And so healthy! My fu chanpuru came with a battered and fried fish piece and a battered and fried green vegetable - shishito-ish, but I'm sure it was more Okinawan than that. On the table was a bottle of soy sauce and another bottle that I thought was vinegar with tiny hot peppers, until I put some on my chanpuru. Now I think it was awamori with hot peppers! Or maybe Okinawan vinegar made from awamori?

The quality of the cooking was pretty good - chanpuru had lots of egg cooked in an appealingly scrambled way, and no goya but some nice strips of fu (which I should have pointed out is some type of wheat gluten by-product. It's usually used to make colored things for decorating soup, or exceedingly dull traditional sweets.). The tonkatsu was good, but unfortunately below the quality level in breading and fry that you'd expect if you went to a specialist. But the rice...I'd go back for the rice.

Damn, I had to inaugurate an Okinawan tag just for this place.
Open 'til 4 AM! Shin Maru is definitely the late-night place to go in the Tokyo Station area.

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