Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blacows, Ebisu

Arrrr, beef, blah blah blah. Grade A5 wagyu, yadda yadda. Was it really worth trucking out to Ebisu after work to meet Roofie and have a burger? It's actually closer than I always think, so it was pretty good value, time-wise. In addition to the animals being served at Blacows, the other wildlife in Ebisu is also nice. You could feel like you're on safari to stay.

Inside the Blacows zoo, I'm not sure who are the animals and who are the keepers. The staff are a little blank and bovine, roaming around, but at least there's no shortage of them. Pleasantly, there's this big mirror on the wall for people who aren't facing the kitchen - makes for a good view. Again, I'm not sure who's watching who, but the staff makes a bit of effort to put on a show. If you blow up the picture (and you can always get bigger pictures here by clicking on them, you know that, right?), you'll see the guy on the right in the mirror doing a sort of angled prayer gesture? He's slapping a beef patty back and forth between his hands to shape it for cooking. Kinda cool! Unfortunately I learned from my mate Heston that the best way to make a burger is to compress it very little, so this is a questionable strategy from a flavor and texture perspective.

Cowz, as we call it, has a much more refined feel than your average burger place, sort of like those 'ramen dining' establishments that I don't go to, and as befits, there are various starters and finishers. Roofie and I got the ham and cheese salad - decent ham, decent cheese, some rocket leaves, all very pleasant. Tiny, mind you, but I guess ham and cheese plates aren't known for enormity. On the other hand...

Didn't realize this, but Roofie doesn't eat glutenz. Here's his burger, hold the bun, with fresh mozzarella and tomato. I'll get this part of the review out of the way first: the fries are not in my preferred style (I tend to prefer the 7mm pommes allumette size over the 10 mm pont-neuf; it usually gets a better balance of soft to crisp for my tastes). Wedges are usually too big, and thus potato-y in the middle. These wedges are small (it's a theme in this review and in fact in this country), and are fried very very well, so that I liked them. And I never like wedges.

Moving on to the meat of the matter, no, haha, did you see what I did there? It was like a joke, because hamburgers are meat! HA! I knew there was a reason we were all here. Before the meat of the matter, let me point out that the bun is brioche, comes from Kayser, and is a bit thick but squashes well. It's a hell of a bun.

Here's what Roboppy calls the 'upskirt shot' (which is a very Japanese concept for a Chinese-American girl in New York). You can see the bacon, and the cheese, and the barbeque sauce, and you can see the chopped onions with some kinda white sauce. This stuff tasted, let me pause, awesome. I could eat this over and over again. What you can't see a lot of in the picture is the patty, and that's how it tasted to me too. After loving the first couple bites, I started thinking "Clara Peller?" and making a conscious effort to taste and diagnose the meat. I just couldn't, which is a damn shame considering all that 'all Wagyu' stuff they advertize, and so I went back to just loving the overall flavor. I think every burger comes with the barbeque sauce and onion stuff, so even getting a cheeseburger or, god forbid, a burger might not solve that problem. It's a conundrum, to be sure. That's better than it being a bodhran though. Chewing those things can be murder on the jaw.

Well, it's all small, and after finishing the burger I was pummelled by unrelenting feelings of "That was awesome and I wish the keeper would bring me some more." Ordering a 2nd Y1500 burger feels awfully luxurious even when you had fruit for breakfast and brown rice for lunch, so I got the sweet potato tart off the daily specials list. In keeping with the casual-dining atmosphere, I was expecting something like a mildly upscaled sweet potato pie, which is the kind of dense, rich finish I was looking for. Instead, it was a foofy contraption with meltingly light mousse, a tough crust-puck, and some white chocolate. Thus ended my meal on a sour note, despite the fact that this was a bit sweet even for me.

Anyway, Blacows - go for the burgers, get extra fries, leave before dessert.

A final note - I've described Sunny Diner in glowing terms...oh, a few times. Big Bird recently told me he went there and thought it was 'good' or 'OK'. Superlatives were definitely not involved. I trust his tastes, so I need to go back and give it another shot. Until such time, please consider that my recommendation for best burger in Tokyo is open (I've been to Zat's and Brozas and few others but not Firehouse. Japanese burgers are too precious for me to put a lot of effort into seeking them out.).

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