Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oedo, Kanda (大江戸)

Once in a while my fixation on the word 'kappou' gets me into trouble with a place that's more expensive than I'd like it to be. On the other hand, eel is an inherently expensive item (whoulda thought?), so putting the two together isn't a recipe for success, cost performance-wise. This place has nice atmosphere and eel in the top echelon of flavor, while the price is pretty much what you'd expect it to be. They have 2 stores in Aoyama as well, which tells you a little something about their aspirations, luxury-wise.

You wouldn't know that this is facing a 6-lane street topped by an elevated highway, would you? It's the prettiness of the facade that initially made me want to go here a couple months ago when I walked by on a scouting mission. Maybe the overcast day has something to do with making the colors seem richer too, but a little running water, plenty of greenery, and a fluttering noren were all nice ways to demarcate lunch from work.

It's quite a 'rich' place in many respects though. The huge flower arrangement by the door is pleasant, as are the booth seats, each separated from the outside world by a noren. If you come alone at a busy time you might be asked to sit at this table, but they gave me a booth just for me.

Being an 'eel kappou', they have a much more complete menu than you'll be used to from eel places. In fact, if you want to get a course, they start at Y6k and go quickly upward. The basic unit of measure in eel-land, however, is the unajuu, eel box, and this is the smallest size. Should you want miso soup or eel liver soup, you're going to have to get them separately.

This is what $20 of eel looks like (minus a little fillip for the rice and pickles). I know this whole post has been gearing up like a condemnation of Japan or eel eating or something, but $20 is what I'd expect to pay for this serving of top-quality eel, and this was top-quality. It's uncommon to get it grilled on charcoal as it was here; it's usually the mark of a high-end, traditionally-minded place in my experience. On the other hand, can anyone point me to a high-end eel restaurant that isn't very traditionally minded? It seems to be an old-fashioned, ingredient-driven segment, sort of like sukiyaki.

Well, with a serving as small as that (honest), I didn't have anything left to feed my new friend. But I mean no disgruntlage here - if you were to ask me where to go for eel, I'd say Izumoya, which was perhaps better in preparation. But I'd tell you to be ready to pay a little more too.

And I'm feeling more genki already! Watch out.

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