Washoku and Bib Gourmand
One of my favorite things about Tokyo is that high quality dining can be done for prices that are actually affordable. You can get Michelin starred ramen for under 10 USD in Tokyo. While this is the land of hundred dollar grapes it is also the land of fresh produce being sold at the dollar store. If you want to spend 100 USD on the most perfectly formed grapes you’ve ever seen, you have the option. It is not your only option though. So don’t let absurd trip advisor reviews let you think Tokyo is expensive. Expensive is available but so is cheap.
There is also the Michelin Bib Gourmand.
Michelin Stars for Days
Washoku in Araki Cho
White Wine Wa
Washoku Course for the Wa Win
Next up is our soup. It’s a simple soup of matsutake mushrooms with Golden Snapper fish in a dashi broth with a slice of Kabosu (citrus) on top. My guess is this is meant to serve as a palette cleanser for the next round.
Sashimi round is always my favorite round of any Washoku meal. Tonight we had maguro (fatty tuna). The white one on the left is tai (sea bream) and then on the right is saba sashimi (mackerel).
Next up we have anago, salt water eel. I promise you it was delicious but at this point the Chablis must have been getting to me. Just look at that crap photo. The salt water ell comes to us grilled and covered in a tare sauce. Eel has the softest texture of any seafood I can think of.
Things are getting serious now. Wagyu, barely grilled, then battered and deep fried. Look how rare that is. Eaten with some horseradish and a bit of soy sauce. This was one of the highlights of the meal for me.
I thought things were slowing down once they brought out the chicken fried steak but I was wrong. Next up a bubbling cauldron of molten soup was brought to the table. Not just one either, one cauldron for each of us. It was covered in green onions and had an aroma of dashi and ginger. It smelled incredible and yielded quite the surprise as well.
This soup is called Suppon. If you haven’t identified that lump of meat and collagen yet dont be surprised. Turtle doesn’t usually end up on your plate. This is a Softshell Turtle Soup. Softshells are common in Japan, they linger around rivers and rice paddies. While it was odd looking it tasted amazing. Very soft meat with a consistency similar to slow cooked pork. The soup is a simple mix of dashi, soy sauce, sake and ginger. It was a big first for me. I think the strangest part was the odd shaped bones.
Next up was 2 slices of karasumi. The white strips are thinly shaved daikon radish. Karasumi is made by salting the eggs of a fish called the Flathead Grey Mullet and then drying them in the sun. If you are a fan of fish eggs and caviar you’ll love this. If you aren’t or haven’t ever tried fish eggs before…maybe don’t start with karasumi.
Next up was another cauldron. Before the cauldron came we got served a tiny plate of pickles and miso soup which meant that rice was approaching.
Inside our cauldron was rice topped with a layer of whitebait fish and what appeared to be tiny dinosaur eggs. On closer inspection they were a type of baby potato. I also just now realized that whitebait is basically baby sardines. A theme perhaps?
It was time to serve up some rice and eat it with our pickles and miso soup. We also polished off what was left of the sake. While this meal was delicious the most exciting part for me was the non stop parade of things I had never eaten before. I’ve been in Japan 10 years now and every time I go out for Washoku I am exposed to something new.
Seriously, turtle bones are odd looking.
Now all that’s left is to figure out where to go drinking after your meal. You’re in Araki Cho and its a maze of bars and tiny restaurants.
Make the most of it.
Nearby Stations: Yostuaya San Chome, Akebonobashi