Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bistro Abats, Hongo

Look, I know everyone's upset about this whole nucular meltdown thing, but last Thursday everything was peachy. So peachy, in fact, that I wandered up to Hongo to try a place that appealed on previous research but closed too early for me to sample. It's peeking out from behind the tropical foliage, down at the end of Hongo Ginza...

just like an intestine peeking out of a split cow. Maybe not just like that, but did you figure out where they got the name? That's right, 'Abats' is French for 'guts'. You might have guessed this from 'abattoir', or slaughterhouse in English.

They're right into the gut thing. The collection of magazines by the door looks innocuous, but turns out to be gut-focused. When I opened this one and saw all the descriptions of cow parts, then the lengthy glossy feature on Chinese intestinal cookery, I almost went next door for some ramen. When you look at reviews of this place, you'll see pictures of thick, rare steaks...that turn out to be things like pork heart.

The startup conversation with the waiter was fun - his opening patter was that they were out of the meat and fish, so I could choose from chicken or quiche for lunch. Ho hum. Or, he allowed quietly, they could rustle up some of their special pate...

Why yes, good sir, I would like to try your special pate! And by my enthusiasm he became emboldened, and we entered a lengthy discussion about exactly which types of house-made meat I could try. In the end, they made an assorted plate for Y2k.

I squealed with delight when I saw this. And made small grunting noises from time to time as I tucked in. My neighbors, quiche eaters all, looked sideways at me.

As did this guy walking by outside. He must have heard the grunts. Or the squeals.

What have we here? Putting aside the liver pate pictured above but cut out of this shot, you can see their incredible, dense country pate, then behind that shin ham (not my thing - very crunchy in places, and quite fatty), ham (delicious), 2-year-old lamb sausage, 18-month-old deer ham, and duck ham. The ham was really good; the pate, sausage and deer were extraordinary (in gamey, interesting ways, so be warned). I would skip the shin and get the rillette, if I had it to do over again (and I intend to).

The waiter must have pitied me, ploughing through uninterrupted meat, because he brought a small cup of salad mid-way. I also liked his attitude about the serving of (house-made, warm) bread - "Let me know if you need more. I don't think that's enough." And even more I liked the fact that another basket of warm bread showed up just as the last piece of the first basket entered my oral cavity.

"How's the taste?" he asked, possibly worried about the gaminess of it all. "Ohhh, good, especially that strong lamb sausage." He beamed and walked off.

Returning with a further serving of meat, the 18-month deer sausages. These were delicious. Delicious. Dense, maybe you could accuse them of dryness, but amazing.

I had to shake hands with the chef. He just gets random meats in and preserves them, no particular plan. And he claimed that all the dried stuff is stored on site...but then sheepishly admitted he's got some extra fridges at home. He's a good man. And that's good meat.

Gotta go back at night. Not so excited about the pork heart, but eating this stuff again is a must.


  1. lively post. you certainly do love your meat!
    thanks for the call...just makes our hearts feel ok and love you for it!!

  2. I am *so* there. Probably June.

  3. @M: 'Love your meat' jokes were supposed to go on yesterday's post. In fact, so were 'post' jokes.
    @BB: I'll save you some cesium.