Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Tag Archives: chicken

Tokyo, Japan 2011-12: Toritsune Shizendou – The Holy Grail of Oyakodons

 

There are worse things in life than a writer’s block – physical pain, for instance.

But while I am sure that physically throwing myself at a wall (repeatedly) would feel infinitely more excruciating than the mental equivalent of encountering the dreaded writer’s block, life sucks anyway.

Clearly I’m not going to be able to spit out a beatific ode to Dario Cecchini, butcher extraodinaire, and the gorgeous Italian meats we had in Chianti anytime soon, so I better kick start my other posts lest I crumble in self-pity and shrivel up in a corner.

Where were we? Right, Japan.

I know that it has been about eight months, but let’s rewind to the start of the year, the fourth of January in Tokyo, where shops and restaurants still threatened to remain closed from the New Year festivities. It was a time of great uncertainty, and the fear that Toritsune Shizendou would be closed was very, very real.

Their Oyakodon was highly praised by The Dirty Stall, and he had all but ordered me to find it because it was that good. He also ordered me to traipse all over Tokyo in search of other things, like Toriki, but I suppose it should suffice that I even managed to find Toritsune Shizendou.

The girls and I did find it, going around buildings in the morning chill, slipping through a deserted alley and stopping outside its shuttered door. Amidst worrying about the possibility of it opening, a Japanese businessman calmly strode up to the door, and stood with his hands in his pockets, staring straight ahead at the wooden sliding door, unmoving, and resolute in stance. That was as good an indication as we could get. We also, obviously, got sniped from being the first customers.

While we were the second customers through the door on the dot at 11am, the restaurant very quickly filled up, first with the locals, and then with a handful of other tourists, walking in bleary eyed and having to wait in line.

The menu is entirely in Japanese, but we knew that we wanted the Tokujo Oyakodon (¥1,600), a large bowl of rice topped with an omelette with chicken strips and the runniest eggs of a blinding, vibrant orange. I am not adept at Japanese, unfortunately, so for a better description of the other dishes, this blogger does a thorough job of it. By ‘thorough’, I really mean Eaten-Every-Single-Thing-On-The-Menu-Because-I-Can.

We weren’t seated at the counter, but the tiny table in our quiet corner yielded an excellent view of the chef at work, effortlessly handling at least three individual pans of omelette at a time on high flame, cracking eggs and lightly whipping them up before sliding it deftly into a bowlful of rice and serving.

What you get from the moment your bowl is set down in front of you is a moist omelette of chicken, scallions, sweet dashi, soy sauce, and gorgeous eggs with their yolks literally running all over the place, soaking into the rice, staining it a bright, oozy orange. It took about five seconds of revered silence on my part as I watched the yolks trickle out before face-diving in all my glory.

The eggs are what make this dish. I’m not sure what chickens they came from, but I’m guessing they must have been very happy chickens. Those eggs are a wonder of nature. To be reasonable, I don’t doubt that there is someplace else with oyakodon so sublime that will top this. I’m not certain, but all I’m saying is that there may be. In the spectrum of things, there are such leeways, but whatever the case, this is the best oyakodon – a shining example of a humble dish done well – I’ve ever had.

Take my advice and googlemap/googleman the address, just so it’s easier to find.

 Address:

鳥つね自然洞 (Toritsune Shizendou)
5-5-2, Soto-Kanda, Chiyoda-ku

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Sofra Turkish Cafe & Restaurant

Sofra Turkish Cafe & Restaurant

Turkish cuisine remained much of a mystery for the better part of my awareness, since I must admit that I carelessly bunch Turkish, Moroccan, Tunisian and Lebanese all under the gigantic umbrella of Middle Eastern cuisine. I’m horrid, I know. It’s like how Chinese food is no different from Japanese, Korean or Thai to plenty of people. But I have an excuse, and you must grant me this at least: I have never had Turkish cuisine in my entire life, because if I had, I would have been making pita bread all my life had I known that homemade, freshly made flatbreads were just so darn good.

Doner Kebabs roasting on vertical spits.

We have some pretty good Middle Eastern restaurants scattered over the island, most of which I’ve heard are congregated in Haji Lane and Arab Street, some in East Coast, and a couple others on Bussorah Street. And I’ve never been to a single one. I know! What’s wrong with me?!

Well, Sofra is located in the unobtrusive and dowdy-looking Shaw Towers along Beach Road. It’s a reasonable, 8-minute walk from Raffles City, or cut through Bras Basah complex to shave of a couple of minutes. Here, I’m telling you that it’s just 8 minutes to exotic and affordable food (‘exotic’ because anything and everything else is shiny and new outside of Koufu and Kopitiam).

Chefs.

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Brotzeit (Vivocity)

Brotzeit

As I’m punching out this post, I’m reminded and wrecked with guilt over the remaining 18 days of my Europe trip that happened about half a year ago that I have yet to write about. That will probably be done next year around this time if all goes well. And that’s me being optimistic.

Anyway, Frankfurt’s pork knuckles can wait (ETA 6 months from now). Brotzeit’s can’t.

It was with a fair bit of hesitation that I led the family into Brotzeit (pronounced broht-zye-eet), but I reasoned that since our last meal of wursts or brots or German-anything has been a good while ago, they wouldn’t turn green at the sight of potatoes anymore. And so they didn’t. But our Europe-seasoned habit of ordering three dishes for four to share remained even though I was ready to conquer the Schweinshaxe (Pork knuckle) all on my own when it eventually descended onto our table.

Pork Knuckle ($36)

This was one burnished crown of blisteringly, crackly, hunk-o-barbaric-looking, MEAT.

Just Meat in all its glory. Look at that. No, really, look at that. What higher power orchestrated such a perfect union of unctuous, smokey meat and golden, crisp skin? Read more of this post

Europe Day 2 – Switzerland (Thun)

Breakfast!

The entire day before, I was silently anticipating breakfast the next morning, right from the moment Angela placed that very loaf of bread in the grocery cart and told me that was her favourite. I knew I would love it. Regardless, nothing beats the sweet smell of toasted bread in the morning – a rather frigid morning might I add, because all I’m really used to the moment I wake up is humidity a slight chill (that is if I am alive and kicking before 7am).

Hell-good bread. Industrial toaster.

I wandered into the kitchen naturally, and seeing the Weizenbrot Hell (which I thought was very aptly named because it was hell-good) all wrapped up in plastic and sitting demurely atop the kitchen counter, I knew I’d be making short work of the loaf in no time. So while Angela kindly brewed me some of her mighty espresso, I cut me up some slices and stared in wonderment at the…machine…next to the cutting board. Read more of this post

Bakerzin (United Square)

Bread Basket

The first time I went to Bakerzin was about three years ago, perhaps four. 

Now if I had known that they had a bread basket, and that helping yourself to copious amounts of ciabatta, whole grain and rye breads, and slotting them into an adorable roller-toaster of sorts was completely unlimited (provided you order a set meal of $13.80+), I’d have frequented them sooner – and perhaps would have made a huge dent in their revenue. 

Come on. It’s bread. Fresh bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil to go with. Now we’re talking carbohydrates. 

I would admit though, that the main reason we ended up consuming about five to six plates of bread could really be blamed on my over-enthusiastic delight of dropping the slices into the toaster, watching them roll across the red-hot grill and waiting on bated breath for them to plonkplonkplonk and slide merrily down the little metal slope to a stop before my eager plate. It’s kind of like a grown-up version of how I used to slot every single coin I could find when I was a little tyke of 3 or 4 years-old into the air-conditioning vents of the family car, to the point where my parents had to practically yank them out and exhume the damn pipes before they could sell the vehicle off. I’ve always been a rascal, except that I’ve grown more practical and responsible over the years (I don’t pee in convenient stores and break toilet bowls anymore) – I made sure to finish every single slice. 

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