This is a guest post from my husband, Michael, who travels the world and promised me a story about one of his many culinary experiences. Future posts will have photos from his trips.
We ventured across the world's busiest intersection, the rush hour crowd absorbing us as if we weren't there.
"Where are we going?" I asked.
A mustached smile gleamed back at me, "A Mongolian barbecue where we can eat and drink all we want for 4000 yen (about $28)."
I shook my head in disbelief.
My friend chuckled after reading my expression. "Oh yeah, and we've got to finish in ninety minutes."
Eight of us weaved through the packs of businessmen, young professionals, and school girls down one of the dozen or so side streets. We turned a corner and stepped down to a pair of wooden doors with metal handles shaped like a snowman. We entered and sat on stools arranged on either side of a short wooden table with metal holes in which concrete urns containing white hot blocks of charcoal were placed. The server laid curved grills on top, and provided bowls of mixed vegetables which included bean spouts, sliced pumpkin, green pepper, thin shavings of carrots, and broccoli. Next to this were nuggets of thinly sliced lamb and cubes of fat which we placed on top of the grill to coat it.
They provided our first drinks, our choices were iced liter mugs of beer, sake, or wine. The table split into factions of each. The server showed us the clock and we were off. The beers went down quickly, the sake less so—the heavy, sweet liquid almost daring you to consume it.
The vegetables and lamb sizzled and popped for a couple of minutes over the heat before we picked it off. The meat was delicate not like the lamb we have back in the states. The beers and drinks were replenished swiftly along with the food as we worked through our feast. After ninety minutes we had had our fill. We each passed in our 4000 yen, collected our group and returned to the busy streets, stopping down the road at a shop for purple sweet potato ice cream to top off our evening before making our way back to the hotel.
Tokyo is a wonderful city, and if you ever get a chance to visit make a point of stopping in for a 90 minute feast of your own. According to the expats I was with these are popular throughout the city. I recommend the place we ate, www.kita-yukidaruma.com. (Yukidaruma translates as "snowman" in English, hence the snowmen handles on the front doors.) The service was excellent and the beer ice cold, but beware of the sake, otherwise you might not remember the experience unless your friends can fill in the gaps.