Every now and then I go to dinner with my boss and another female professor. We use it as an opportunity to try new restaurants or, more often, introduce me to a new style of Japanese cuisine. After being here over a year now, I have tried just about everything, but one thing that I never managed to cross off the list was Sukiyaki. With a little research, my boss tracked down a very traditional, old restaurant right by campus and last Friday the three of us went.Echikatsu, has apparently been around for as long as the University: 140 years!
With tall apartment buildings on either side, it is this small chunk of old world charm in the middle of Bunkyo-ku. After walking through the front garden, we made our way to the proprietor, who was waiting for us. We dropped off our shoes and were led down this old hall way - one side is glass looking out to the garden, the other side is full of paper screen doors - to our private tatami room.
Sukiyaki is very similar to nabe, or stew, that we often have during the winter. However, with sukiyaki, you typically use much higher quality beef, and a lot of it. So that you don't lose track of your high quality beef (in this case, Matsuzaka beef), you use much less broth, just about a half inch or so. A handful of vegetables and some tofu are simmered in there as well, but really this dish is all about the beef. The other thing that separates sukiyaki from other dishes is that you dip everything into a beaten raw egg before eating it. Our association with raw eggs is probably why this dish hasn't really become popular in the States. It's a pity, because it really was amazing. I can't remember eating more meat in one sitting before.