So we did not have a formal shabu shabu meal in Japan, but when I was researching shabu shabu with Matsuzaka beef, we had an option to have this same beef cooked tepanyaki style, which the concierge highly recommended and internet research showed this to be one of the few places in Tokyo with this kind of meat. So we reserved the 8th floor, which is tepanyaki only. Very elegant lunch, sat next to an old Japanese businessman wearing tortoise shell glasses, with his young and accomodating female companion.
Started with a plate of figs and super peanutty sesame sauce.
This was followed by the oddest thing we saw in Japan so far. The chef throws a half shell of fresh abalone on the grill, at first we didn’t get it, then he says ‘it’s still alive’. We stare at this thing until it starts to bubble, then it starts moving, slowly the pulsating writhing mass starts pushing away from it’s shell as it looks like the blob coming out of the blue lagoon. as it escapes it’s shell, it meets it’s fate on the grill, as the chef cuts it out, cuts out it’s liver, and puts it’s own shell over it to steam it. It’s important to remember to always torture your food before you eat it.
Then we had an amuse bouche of potato soup covered with a decorative Wasabi leaf. So damn creamy. Then we had the grilled/steamed abalone with some yamazaki hibiki 21 year old whiskey, highly recommended. Headed to the actual distillery in Kyoto in several days, will definitely get a bottle of this.
To cleanse our palate, some of the tastiest salad with cherry tomatoes unlike any other we’ve had, with a sesame ginger dressing.
Followed by an intermezzo of grilled sweet fish. We came to knew this little fish everywhere with its oxy moron name by the super contrasting bitterness. With lime, it cut the bitterness amazingly, and oddly enough almost had a sweet aftertaste.
Then the star of the show, Matsuzaka beef, sirloin cut by hand, not machine cut. This is the cut you usually see at shabu shabu restaurants, but it was grilled tepanyaki style. He also gave us tenderloin pieces to grill for contrasting flavors. Look at those slices cooked rare in the photo. OMG! Looking forward to see how this type of meat compares to Kobe beef, which we will have in Kobe next week at two star Aragawa.
The shabu cut was also grilled rare, with grilled lotus root, totally like fresh cut roasted starchy potato flavor, toasted garlic chips, grilled baby bok choy and bean sprouts, along with chopped Japanese green onion and ponzu sauce, as well as pureed fermented radish sauce which was to die for, all wrapped inside the Matsuzaka like a inverted meat burrito. I was crying eating this, eyes closed, with my right eyebrow twitching uncontrollably. Writing this several days later the buttery pata negra fat flavor memory is still fresh in my mind.
He serves all this meat atop a plate of sliced bread, which sops all the juice. He then later cuts and grills this bread with burnt sugar to make these ridiculous French toast sticks with caramelized sugar and Matsuzaka fat stains. This was served with one of the juiciest Japanese cantaloupe/honey dew ever, with mango for Erika.
To kill us softly, he made a special rice grilled, with burnt crispy edges. I got the garlic rice and Erika got the Japanese pickle rice. We are ruined with good rice now, nothing can compare to this, like tadik amplified by ten.