Wednesday, June 16, 2010


One of our best days in Tokyo was when we had finally arrived. Properly. The first few days of a long haul are always pretty wierd. Everything is exciting and new and you feel like jumping in the deep end, and yet exhaustion dominates. That is, until about the third day and then everything begins to settle into place. We started the day with a trip around Tsukiji Fish Market. I never knew tuna was so massive, varied and most of all, expensive! And it's not just the tuna. There's a million kinds of prawn, clam, octopus and every other fish on view here. Knee deep in fish water, we waded around, marveled at what we saw and salivated at our potential sushi breakfast. The atmosphere in this market is electric, not half because everywhere you stand or walk you are in the way. The market workers all career around on little gas fueled tanks that they stand in. And they go at quite a speed between the overflowing stalls, shouting and tooting as they go. They whiz, wiggle and do quick 360 turns with an urgent abandon and it feels more like Mario Kart!

So the day had started brilliantly. I can't really remember what we did after that, but all I do know is we were quite drunk by sun down. We found a lovely bar in the Shibuya district and felt suddenly very at home in Tokyo. The climax of the evening was finding this wicked and quite down at heel 'pub'. This is where things got messy. It wasn't any old bar, it was Dancho's Inards bar. Most of the stuff that he served was from the inside of pigs, cows and chickens. THIS is why I went to Japan. As you can see, we made friends quickly, they ordered for us (as all the signage was in Japanese) and I peered over the bar to see the handiwork and got more and more excited as the dishes got sent out. Behind the bar, Dancho smoked, as did the bar maid and everyone seemed pretty drunk and most of all to be really enjoying the food. Our friends ordered sake and dishes for us and explained this it was 'labour food', as in, simple food for worker, I suppose. And finally I saw what I'd been looking for... raw cows heart and liver, sliced like sashimi with a sesame oil and salt dipper. It was so exciting. I can't claim that I loved it, but it made me feel fantastic, like a rush of blood to the head. I think adrenaline was at full pelt by this point. More sake. And then the finale. Most good sushi places you get a leaf of Perilla or Ohba with your fish. It's a leaf that looks like a knettle, but has a fine and aromatic flavour, a little kick, somewhere between mint and basil. Dancho didn't just serve up the sea bream with perilla, he lay over it the perilla flowers. I have never been more excited in my whole life. Honestly. And he was so cool and nice and dishy. If I ever go back to Tokyo, I don't even know whether I'd know how to find this place but it is simply the best. And I think it might have been the cheapest meal we ate out there

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