Friday, May 28, 2010

Yamakyu, Kanda (山久)

Every time I eat an oyakodon I think of Paul Simon; I can't help it. It's not very original (because I write it every time as well) but that's one of my favorites among his songs. Oyakodon itself is a hard thing - I think it's not really appealing to foreigners in its truest form.

Today was 'language lunch' day as Fridays often are, and You had seen in one of the monthly magazines (Adults' Holiday) that "Japan's Best Oyakodon" was on sale at this stylish shop in an unassuming east-Kanda alley (home also of Chok Di, and a higher-end sushi place that recently started serving cheap lunches. Will report back to the group.). He thought it was great. I suffered from the problems I always have with oyakodon.

You know how to make one of these? Ideally you have the special pan, which is a small frypan with the handle sticking directly up. You soften chicken and onions in the pan, possibly with a little chicken soup (not sure), then pour beaten eggs on top. Before the eggs set, you pick up the pan and use the conveniently-oriented handle to slide the contents out onto a bowl of rice. Walla.

There are two things I have problems with in this prescription. One, you'll have noticed the leading phrase "before the eggs set". I meant that. There's a layer of completely raw egg on top, which is glistening and lovely and also raw and slimy. Not my favorite texture; I tried to pick out one or two egregiously uncooked area that looked far too much like mucus. Two, this place proudly serves pure-blood Nagoya Kochin chicken, which is a good thing, but tends to be very free rangey and chewy. It's quite different to mass-farmed chicken; it's more like you're eating an animal than just eating a piece of white meat. The chewiness gets to me, and the clear separation of muscle groups.

Is this Japan's best oyakodon? I guess the best way to put this would be "Don't ask me. I'm not qualified." If you love the flavor and aren't bother by chewy chicken and raw egg, this could well be the place for you - native tongues pronounced it delicious. There're also a Kochin Curry and some other options for lunch (nothing raw, unfortunately, that's only at night), and sets will include a side dish, pickles and chicken soup for the usual price range (oyakodon Y1260 since this is luxury chix). At night, sets at various levels, quite reasonable, and a good drink selection including about 8 normal high-end sake brands.

I like to think that you could read the name as 'sankyu', but the chickens probably don't agree.

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