Thursday, April 28, 2011

Emmado, Kanda (炎麻堂)

Another lunch, another chain store. Only this was the last day before Golden Week, and I felt festive. Really wanted ramen, but didn't find anything, and when I saw a mapo tofu specialty store, I was hooked. Spicy is almost as good as ramen, and sort of healthier if you neglect to mention the pork and oil.

I want to point out that this is not the same as the temple Emmado 閻魔堂, although the fierce countenance of the god enshrined at those could be related to spiciness in some way.

It's appealing black and somber inside. Makes you think they're serious about what they do. But it's also cramped and not especially clean (which again tends to give me a warm feeling when it comes to Chinese-derived foods).

Lots of exercise recently, so the short-stack of 3 gyoza seemed like an acceptable concession. These were excellent, seriously. I like gyoza but often feel they're not flavorful enough; in this case the chef advised that they were already flavored and shouldn't be dipped in anything. He didn't lie. He lied by omission about the little dice of lotus root in the filling, a simple touch that really adds interest to the texture.

One of the gimmicks here is that you can pick your level of spicy. Unlike the comical and meaningless 70-point system at Ethiopia, these guys really are serious in their 1-5 options. See what's in that strainer? It's all chili. Gives me the shivers just looking at it.

And the chef didn't blink at all when I asked for the top level of spicee. This was a very, very good mapo, flavorful and spicy in a complex way, thick enough to stick to the rice, good pork and beans. As expected, the Level 5 spicy was just about right, not at all overdone.

Two other stores in Akasaka and Sancha, if that helps ya.

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