Sunday, July 18, 2010

Kyushu Otokomichi, Ebisu (九州男道)

Chain izakayas. Do you think I hate them? I don't. They fill a niche, and are fun, and the food is never bad even if it's never surprising or exciting or different. Not liking chain izakayas is, I think, unnecessary snobbery. Despite the funny name (Kyushu Men's Street?), you can sorta tell from the slickness of the sign that this is a chain izakaya.
It's more complicated than that though. Diamond Dining is a huge group, proudly proclaiming over 100 restaurants under their patronage. The thing is, there are over 50 marques in there, ranging from craft beer to regional Japanese cuisine to royal french pork to vampires (really). Usually I would say that's ridiculous, but you know, I think they just manage to create a decent, fun atmosphere every time.
The deal here is food and drink from Kyushu, so emphasis on meat and shochu. After the usual low-meat/no-meat week, it was clearly time for a big and meaty feast, and that's a big part of why we ended up here. Beef, pork, horse and guts all abound (OK, beef doesn't abound, but it does exist). But first, some vegetables.
I love miso, and I love pretty much everything I've ever had with miso. As such, I love things pickled in miso, like this cream cheese. I wanted to run right home and make it. Why didn't I?
This is a lotus root, boiled and then plugged with a mustard-heavy stuffing, then battered and fried. It's a neat preparation, with a lot of nose-clearing potential, but the outer fry was limp (as I think they intended, because it was cold).
Normal-looking salad, but strangely pleasurable since it included spicy seaweed and kimchee.Worth keeping in mind for your home-cooking adventures.
All that foolishness out of the way, we moved on to the meat course(s). So as not to bore you, here it all is together, along with the stone plate that they put atop a gas burner to get the cooking done. Interesting technique. The big plate is beef and pork; both of these were excellent quality, I mean that, delicious stuff, and in reasonable quantities for the prices. You'll also see a plate of sliced tongue; we didn't order it, but they let us keep it even after we let them know, and it was a great tongue. You'll also see a plate of raw horse; it was previously-frozen, and that disappoints me, but it was very good quality, and that delights me. You'll also see a plate of beef intestine, which features prominently in Kyushu food (often in stew); if there's one thing that worries me about going to Kyushu, which is otherwise the region of Japan I'd most like to see, it's their propensity to eat guts and drink hard liquor. Gives me the shakes just thinking about what kind of hangover you'd have after a night of rotgut and rotten guts. (haha, that was pretty funny! I crack myself up!)
The thing is, even real Kyushu people don't always love those guts. Can you tell why?
You know why.
No doubt.
These just sat on the grill stone, sizzling gently and melting away to nothing as all the fat cooked out of them. We had to ask the staff for a bowl to collect the insane amount of fat-runoff (still, as I always say, fat on the grill is fat that's not in your arteries). Strangely, we didn't take home the leftovers.
Hey look, this was just a real fun time, and the meat was excellent quality. This is a fun way to cover a bunch of bases at once - tourist friendly, meat-heavy, reasonably-priced, tasty.

1 comment:

  1. I like the lotus root dish. Thanks for sharing this really nice article. Have a nice day!