GRAZING CRABBILY AT ‘KANI-DORAKU’ IN JAPAN
‘Kani-Doraku’, Akihabara district, Tokyo.
There is no doubting the specialisation at this restaurant; one of at least four similar outlets in Tokyo alone. Akihabara is better known to tourists and a local alike as ‘Electric Town’, as here is where they go for electrical gadgets and equipment.
‘Kani’ means crab. ‘Doraku’ is a little more difficult to translate and the closest is ‘enjoy as you like it’. Hmm… “Crab Enjoy As You Like It”.
We squeezed into a shoji partitioned room and ordered the top ‘set course’ almost like a ‘crab kaiseki’ meal. Every course except dessert had crab in it. There is a standard order of presentation viz. marinated, boiled, raw, grilled, tempura, etc.
Additional wooden tool supplied with chopsticks for digging out crabmeat.
The ‘amuse bouche’ was marinated vegetables and crab bits.
Huge mugs of Asahi draft beer – “dai-jokki” and some pretty sub-standard red wine.
These seemed like a litre of beer. I love big jugs!
Sake: ‘Nama-Genshu’ from Kyoto and the more flavoursome ‘Yume-mizu’ daiginjou-grade.
‘Kani-miso’ euphemistically called ‘crab miso’. Miso is the fermented soybean paste used as flavouring when making stocks and soups. Actually the grey paste is the roe and other sludgy bits of crab – very tasty despite the colour.
Egg ‘tofu’ with crab sauce.
We had the choice of letting the kitchen cook the crab or doing it ourselves at the table. We took the first option. Alas, there is no photo but essentially it looked like the previous dish but with browned edges. The smell and taste was very different, of course. There is something about ‘burnt chitin’ of seafood shells.
Sushi crab, real miso soup and pickled vegetables on the side.
Green tea ice-cream.
Green tea and complimentary crab-flavoured rice cracker (sembei).
Various ‘crab-related’ products were available for sale in the restaurant shop, including these crackers, key chains and medicines. Apparently ailments like arthritis, muscular pain and acne can be treated with crab shell extract.
Our little friends.
There were two species – King Crab and Hairy Crab. No prizes for guessing which is which.
A Japanese friend recommended this restaurant and it lived up to its reputation. This is, by no means, an upmarket establishment but one could not imagine that spending more would give much increment in gourmand enjoyment. As the freshest produce was used, an expensive establishment would only score more for ambience, décor and a better choice of wines.
This is a little off the beaten path but very convenient after a hard day’s trudging around ‘Electric Town’ looking for THAT latest gizmo. Just ask your hotel concierge to find you a Net-downloadable map to show the taxi driver.
Photos and Text Copyright Melvyn Teillol-Foo, 2004.