January 8, 2018
The next two dishes were skewers of (1) king trumpet mushrooms wrapped in bacon and (2) shishito peppers which I forgot to photograph by themselves. Both of these offerings were fine, but as I mentioned earlier, I wish they'd been seared a tad more to give us that grilled, barbecued flavor.
King trumpet mushrooms in bacon & shishito peppers:
Next up was a trio of raw spot prawns. These were delish! I hadn't sucked on raw prawn or shrimp heads in a couple of years, so that was a nice treat. The wasabi helped make the protein totally vibrant.
Spot prawns w/wasabi:
Last (by about 30 seconds) came the main courses. They were all good, but none of them brought the house down. I had three skewers of regular meat, and one skewer each of gizzard, liver and heart. The gizzard was super tough! But, maybe that's normal. I requested the liver, as per the waiter's suggestion, to be cooked in their house marinade, and that was very good. The hearts were pretty good, a little tough by nature. Again, because of a lack of good sear, I can only give two Licks.
Various chicken skewers:
The first of my two dinner stops tonight was at a yakitori (grilled chicken) joint near my hotel. Most everything on yakitori menus is small plates...so I went to town! Overall, the place was good, and the servers were quite friendly. But compared to other yakitori places I've tried, I feel this joint needed to cook their proteins maybe at a higher temperature so that the outside caramelizes more; some skewers were lacking that nice sear that you get from a grill. And like so many other restaurants on this trip, the dishes came out in rapid succession; many of the cooked dishes turned cool before I could dig into them.
The first two dishes served were pickled beech mushrooms with what seemed to be a daikon (or other root) mash and a cucumber salad with garlic, saffron & sesame seeds. Both of these chilled apps were very good, though I don't know if the saffron added anything to the cucumber.
Beech mushrooms w/daikon mash & cucumber salad:
Pork belly rice:
My second dinner stop, like my first, was a place I wanted to try the night before but was closed. Kitakaya Ramen Bannai is in the Shiodome City Center; I think bannai ramen is specifically the variety served with chashu (pork belly) that's been marinated in soy. In other words, the meat ends up quite salted, too much so for my tastes. If that style is for you, then this place is perfect. There were some pluses and minuses, though. One plus is that they serve you an incredible amount of the pork belly. I ordered a small bowl and there must've been 10 slices of pork. On the down side is that not much else was in the soup: no egg, no dried seaweed, no bamboo shoots, etc. And though I found the meat too salty for my liking, it was very tender, and surprisingly, the broth didn't taste too much so.
The gyoza I ordered arrived after the soup, haha! I'm really getting used to this arbitrary style of service. The dumplings were very good; I'm also getting used to all the veggie filling in these things with the minced pork interspersed at most. But I never get tired of those pan seared wrappings!
I also put in for a small bowl of pork belly with steamed rice. This pork belly is how I would've preferred the taste of the ramen pork: barbecued, sweet, tangy.
Kitakaya Ramen Bannai: