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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tip top teppanyaki

The unassuming exterior of Moo teppanyaki restaurant in Tokyo
Giant clams...
...Steamed and juicy
Insanely delicious Matsusaka wagyu beef
Butter-garlic rice
Our teppanyaki table - one of 4 in the restaurant - TV on wall in corner
"Teppan" griddle
Our teppanyaki table, yellowing walls with crumbling menu specials
Installation art
Entrance to teppanyaki heaven
LOCATION: Moo Teppanyaki, Meguro, Tokyo
CATEGORY: Japanese, Teppanyaki 
DRINK: Oolong-hi and beer 
WE THINK: We recently had our best teppanyaki meal of our lives in a tiny dump of a restaurant called Moo--like the sound of a cow. On the ground floor of this unassuming two-story house in Meguro is a tiny, family-run teppanyaki restaurant which, according to our friend who has been going there regularly for 25 years, has not changed much in appearance for decades. The only change he could point out was the upgrade of the TV in the corner--now flatscreen instead of the old boxy one which is instead sitting unused in the window sill. The rotary dial telephone is the same. The current waiter/teppanyaki chef is the son of the previous chef who worked the tables into his late seventies with glacial, yet efficient and meticulously timed movements, cooking simultaneously on 4 teppan griddles in a full restaurant but never overcooking anything. There were only a few people at one other table when we were there, so we didn't get to see our chef under full pressure, but he was a bad-ass who spoke only 10 words to us while we were there so we're sure he would be just fine. The food, like the interior, is kept super simple though more care goes into the food than the interior (which is good). We had some stir-fried beensprouts, asparagus and enoki mushrooms (not pictured), steamed giant clams in their shells, some delicious juicy burgers (not pictured) and one of the best pieces of beef we've ever had. Everything cooked to perfection with little to no seasoning but packed with flavour.  No flaming desserts, onion volcanos or jumping squids, no juggling, shouting or other teppanyaki chef tricks. Very oldschool. It was therefore to our great surprise that we were handed a glossy digital "Moo loyalty card" with a chip in it for our future visits. Oh Japan.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Late night ramen in Tokyo

The vending machine where you order and pay for the ramen
Ticket and change
Ca. US$10 for a bowl of ramen
Afuri yuzu shio ramen with grilled chasu pork, egg, seaweed and mizuna
Afuri yuzu ramen with chili
View from our seat at the counter
View from outside
LOCATION: Afuri ramen, 117 Bldg. 1F, 1-1-7 Ebisu-Minami Sibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan
CATEGORY: Ramen noodles, Japanese
DRINK: nothing
WE THINK: We might have found the perfect place to eat after a night out in Tokyo! Not only is Afuri ramen in Ebisu open till 4am, it also serves some of our favourite ramen. A new-ish spot in Tokyo with branches in several locations, Afuri is already well-known for their shio ramen to which they add fresh yuzu, one of our most beloved flavours of all flavours--and it does wonders in Afuri's chicken-based stock with fish, konbu and fatty grilled chashu pork. What a good idea. We went recently, just before closing, delirious from a few too many Oolong-hi and Tantakatan. We ate our ramen in joyful silence, our ears still ringing from the night, while watching surf videos on the tv in the corner. Our enthusiasm for Afuri ramen was definitely amplified in our inebriated state, but we are pretty sure we'd be very excited sober as well.