Monday, September 28, 2009

Ryutan, Tokyo (龍譚, 東京駅B1)

Okinawan food remains a mystery to me, much like the sharp twang and exotic scales of the island's music. The food is a bit better than the music though. The music mostly sounds like it was fun to play since the musicians and audience were all completely pickled on awamori, the fiery local brew.

I like writing things like 'fiery local brew'. It makes me feel like a food writer. Next I'm going to practice using phrases like 'infused', 'a slick of [insert oil here]', 'proteins', 'complexity', 'highest-quality ingredients' and other college words.

Last month I went to the first Okinawan place I've been to in...oh, almost 5 years, I guess. (The last time I can remember was the place south of the main street in Monnaka, on Kiyosumi Dori.) Of course you can get a goya chanpuru anywhere and I often do in lower-end izakaya, but for some reason dedicated Okinawan places...not so much. Anyway, expanding horizons and all that rot, old man, pip pip, what ho. The place last month was kinda lame. Ryutan was kinda good.

This is in the basement of Tokyo Station, under Kitchen Street. You should expect it to be good; all the places there are a little upscale and often full. Not so much at 2 PM; I was happy they're still serving.

Perhaps Okinawa is in some way related to Mexico? Okinawan places always have taco rice among their offerings, for one. For another, the menu revolves around recyclements of the same few ingredients - goya, pork, noodles, tofu. I had a set with goya chanpuru and some noodles in soup on the side. The chanpuru was great - fully cooked rather than crunchy and overly bitter as it can be, with the pork having rendered unto Caesar its fat in full, leaving the whole fried mess full of anaimal-style flavorz. The noodles were of the hand-rolled Okinawan variety (I think), but the soup was a real standout - it tasted exactly like an okonomyiaki. No idea how they do that, but I like it.

If you're in that basement and find this place available, check it out. I think you'll like it.

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