Friday, April 10, 2009

Ten Shan Fei Wei, Nihonbashi (天香回味)

Before you ask, no, this is not the normal Nihonbashi shop. They opened another one right behind Coredo, on the little block to the left of Saint Pau where the Italian place is. And now that I've got that gratuitous "Gosh I'm so well informed and knowledgeable" posturing out of the way, on to the review. It IS the first time I've been to one of these places, after all.

TSFW specializes in Taiwanese 'medicine soup', which is done nabe-style at the table. They bring you a big pot split down the middle (not quite evenly, I should add) and filled with mild soup (the larger side) and spicy soup. If you want an explanation, and we did (although Koala must surely know the drill, since she goes every week and all...), they'll run you through how everything is good for you. The soup contains 60 medicines, "some you can see and some you can't". There are all sorts of bits and bobs, shoots and pods, floating in each side of the pot. You can't dispute the medicinal qualities - as soon as you're in the door, it smells like Indian food mixed with Chinese medicine. In a good way. In an exciting way, if it's your first time.

Then there are the vegetables (although I did see a Japanese TV show one time where they showed how goats will eat any crazy food you put in front of them, but won't touch a mushroom since they think it's not food). It's a massive plate of vegetables, all of which look excruciatingly medicinal. OK, not all of them, but there are a good 5 varieties of mushroom that I had never seen before (all I remember is the yellow ones, "from whose roots baseball bats are made". What?! And the 'giant nameko'.), and half a head of cabbage (lots of cabbagin! Good for you!) and a few big leaves of bok choy, and winter melon slices, and other things I can't describe. The vegetables are sided with a small plate of pork for shabu-ing and another plate with 4 scallops. Mysterious.

Ahhhh, geez the soup is good. I don't so much need the other stuff, especially the meat, but I could sit there and drink the soup for hours. Such a complex, spicy, interesting taste...which I guess is bound to happen when you've got all these weird thingies floating in a pot of boiling water. At the end they give you yet another excuse to drink soup by bringing these nifty green chlorophyll-enhanced noodles - I presume they're healthy, but I was more interested in the texture, which was like very firm curly ramen, and the flavor, which was solidly wheaty (makes sense considering the explanation of their origins). The funny thing is that these looked like the green version of konnyaku, so at first I thought they were chlorophyll 'miracle noodles', but no, full calorie presence.

With this opening, they now have 9 shops around the city, in places that you'd expect. There are two in Ginza (Velvia and g-Cube), 2 in Akasaka, one in Roppongi, 2 in Nihonbashi, 1 out at Takashimaya Tamagawa, and one outlier in Kanagawa (not to be confused with Shinagawa).

Recommended by all the Japanese women I know who have fathers at Sumitomo and have lived in West Lafayette. Which is not only one.

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