Thursday, June 11, 2009

Suju Dining, Marunouchi (酢重)

Today's lunch featured a recurring character, Ding, who announced unannounced that a new character would be joining the show. Hilarity was bound to ensue! We'll call him Ricky.

Actually, I was a little trepidational since Ricky isn't a regular cast member, and irregular cast members could be inclined toward disgruntlifaction when faced with my starting-to-get-really-weird insistence on visiting a different place every day. But Ricky was a good sport, we hit Shin Maru 5, and there are still a fair few places that I haven't been to. It's starting to get thin though. Over in the corner near Le Remois (Terry, I promise that's the only time I'll mention it in this post; it's safe for you to continue reading) there's an Italian place (often full at lunch) and a Chinese place that I've avoided because it's Chinese.

Well, the Chinese place wasn't full, and interestingly, it's not Chinesical at all. It's Japanese. It's just that I can't read. Suju is a small chain (3 stores), and now that I've looked at the web site it's all clear - this is related to the very classy washoku cafe up near the top of the main street in Karuizawa, the one with the black signage and the associated miso-and-preserves store across the street (just in case you were there recently and might remember it). This is their other store, and they must be bringing products in to Tokyo to cook (this feels a lot like Blue Hill Farm bringing their products in to NY for cooking, although I'm making much of the limited parallelity). That must be why the menu features so many Shinshu products (Karuizawa being in Shinshu), which are sorta synonymous with 'purity' in food goozu (グッズ), I think, and the food at Suju is along the lines of 'healthy and natural'. But not cheap.

There are quite a few menu options. Ding had the beef tataki (pretty much roast beef, although not cooked on the inside); it looked nice but a little smallificated, and he got through it wit a quickness, as he typically does. Ricky picked up on the Shinshu tonkatsu, which seemed to be stuffed with cheese before being fried, was served in a Creuset-style pot, and looked thoroughly awesome in quality of meat and fry (but I don't know him well enough to ask for a bite). I got the mixed-stuff set, 4 varieties where you get to choosify one. I picked the sashimi (octopus and something like hamachi, both very fresh but a bit forgettable) to go with the herushi salad (white beans, tomatoes, onions, mizuna, mitsuba), eggplant (agedashi; light breading, deep-fried, in light fish stock with a lot of grated radish, you often get tofu like this) and pumpkin (boiled with a lot of sesame, clearly the standout of the 4 plates). Other options included saba miso and two things I can't remember, but definitely no choice of that divine-looking katsu.

Each of these came with a separatationalized tray of rice (quality!), soup (boring, especially when you consider that these guys are a miso shop!) and pickles (boring hakusai, excellent radish that I think was miso-pickled now that I think about it. I thought it tasted like sake lees while I was eating, but it was kinda orangic in colorfaction.). And each of the sets was about Y1900, so this is not for the faint of food. The view out the southwest corner of Shin Maru is pretty good, which adds a little something to it. Were it cheaper, this would be a good rec, but as it is you'll have to decidalize for yourself.

It's really hard to type 'Suju' instead of 'Suji', but I'm being vigilant because of my biases.


  1. George Bernard Shaw once famously described Britain and the United States as two countries separated by a common language. This post is testimony to that. ... And too much mention of Le Remois!

  2. The tonkatsu was a bit too fatty for my taste. Better off sticking to tonkatsu at a proper tonkatsu restaurant.