Friday, August 27, 2010

Kudan, Gakugei Daigaku (件)

There's a first for everything, and a slightly different personality to every neighborhood of Tokyo. This was my first time to visit Gakugei Daigaku, and I'd like to say its personality reflects a bit of its college roots. The few streets that I saw seemed cheaper and funkier than the average suburb, with a bit of Shimokita vibe. There wasn't much time to explore though, as I ran into Woodsworth on the platform and we went directly out the west exit to meat Poshand at Kudan (which she had picked). Should you go, you'll recognize it by the big sake banners outside.

The insides made me feel funny inside, and I've figured out why. In a country that structures things long and narrow for the most part, this place broad and shallow. There's just a row of tables and the counter, and where we sat, facing the counter, we were sort of on display to the staff but not much able to interact with them. Never mind, we were there in our own group and didn't need much input (although we did admire one older woman who came in by herself and sat at the counter to drink sake).

Why do I love picking my own chokko so much? Maybe it's the variety. Or maybe it's because it's the only style of Japanese ceramics that I don't already have too much of?

'Drink sake' is the appropriate thing to do here, but first, let's have a look at what sort of snacks are available. Being foreigners (and with Poshand's complaints evidently still ringing in the staff's ears after her first visit) we received fish (kohada?) cooked in vinegary tomato sauce and onions. Also a bit of boiled takana, which I can confirm was excellent but I'm pretty sure no one else ate; after a certain point, when they hadn't tried it, I resolved to keep it for myself. The heshiko, much as I love it, was too strong for effective consumption. And the chopped mountain potato with seaweed and shibazuke was...slimy. My bad, I got confused by the 'tataki' on the menu and thought it would be seared potato (which is good, I promise); tataki in this case is just chopped, which is what it means anyway.

And the sake...a nice list, but less informative than a lot of places. Am I the only one who's gotten to think that it's normal to have the grade of sake specified on the menu? It's odd to order a brand without knowing whether it's junmai or ginjo or what have you. Drinking tokkuri between a few people, we tore through beverages at a furious rate. This is just a sample of the pictures, starting with the central Manrei, which I ordered because it was from Saga ken, then loved because of the bold label, and finally didn't like that much because of the style (bold junmai).  I definitely liked the top-left Matsumoto a lot, and the bottom-right Yamawa even more. They would be worth seeking out.

The rest of the feed went a bit like this - lovely platter of fish, even more lovely small dish of namerou, salmon belly, hokke, wagyu tataki (see? it's seared!). This was all good stuff. The namerou in particular sticks in my memory because it was pretty, what with the flower-bulb vegetables (someone please remind me what they're called?) and chrysanthemum petals on top.

All too soon it was time for the train home - no small feat considering Gakugei's west-side location, outside the metro, and the presence of my bike at a station near the office, waiting for a near-midnight ride home. I'd say that, when in Gakuegei or points West, this would be a really cool choice.

And, like, groovy also.

1 comment:

  1. "the flow-bulb vegetables" could be edible lilly bulb or "yurine" 百合根. Actually Hokkaido is famous for its production.

    I have not seen this being sold in US. Only certain kind of lilly could be eaten and many are poisonous. So do not start eating any lilly bulbs.