Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics
One of the most well known whale restaurants in Shinjuku, and indeed all of Tokyo is Taruichi
. Often featured in western coverage of the whaling issue in Japan, I had the distinct pleasure of having a meal at Taruichi
recently, and didn't miss the opportunity to snap some mobile phone photos for a blog entry.
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First, some photos of the exterior.
There's some more when you arrive on the 5th floor:
And above the entrance is this big sign board:
I couldn't stand far away enough to get the "ichi" of "Taruichi" into the picture, but more interesting on the left is the picture of a whale and some Japanese text, which I will translate as something like...
Food is not logical
Food is human existence itself
And, it is each people's culture
Inside, one finds that Taruichi is larger than one expects from it's exterior, and at least on the Saturday night that I went the place was pretty much packed. We hadn't bothered to ring and book a table in advance (there are other whale restaurants nearby which you can fall back on), and so we found ourselves limited to about 2 hours until just before 9 p.m. when another reservation had been made.
Taruichi is apparently a 2nd generation restaurant now, and the interior is true enough to this. There are several tatami mat rooms available, and also lots of whale related decoration. Take the lamp displayed to the right. Maybe the whale attached as the base of the lamp will catch your eye first, but take another look at the lampshade - that's baleen that it's made out of.
There are also whale illustrations on the walls and door, as you see in the picture below, so you can enjoy some whale watching as well as enjoy your whale meal.
Moving along to the actual food. Japanese whale cuisine culture proponents love to illustrate that with whales, every part you can imagine is used for something (as also seen with the baleen lampshade). Here's a page from the menu pointing out the names of different parts of whale, all of which are available on the menu. Below it is the menu from one section of the wall in the room we were in.
The array of dishes on offer here is rather overwhelming. Even though other restaurants also have a variety of different meats available, Taruichi
seems to have the greatest range that I have seen. Whale parts available on the menu include the normal meat you can find in any whale restaurant (red meat, bacon), and additional choices include whale heart, whale brain, and whale phallus.
Below is a picture of one set of dishes we ordered. There's "kujira tatsuta-age
" (fried red meat) at the back left, a salad (can't remember if there was any whale in it, but there may have been), and "kohhaku ozohri
" (a dish of whale sashimi including both red and white meats). The whale bacon (the white slices with the pink tinge) had more oil in it than any whale bacon I've ever had before.
Again if you take a close look at the sashimi plate, you can see a piece of baleen used for decoration, more easily identified in the "after" shot below.
As I mentioned above, there were various dishes using various whale parts on the menu. I'll leave it to your imagination as to what these two items below were.
One other thing that caught my attention was a sticker on the wall, which for some reason is partially
damaged. What we can make out from the remains is:
...ve the Tongans
...ed Them Whales!
But I digress.
Overall, although our time at Taruichi
was unfortunately limited, we were able to sample 8 different types of whale dish, and if you happen to have any non-whale eaters with you there is also more typical fare on the menu, such as plain old fried chicken.Taruichi
's dishes generally have a traditional look to them, and it gave me a sense that the menu items there are true to the restaurant's history. Other newer restaurants, such as neighbouring Akanedoki
a few minutes walk away that started serving whale items and courses 2 or 3 years ago, appear as if they have put effort into producing dishes for the 21st century whale diner, rather than sticking with older traditional style dishes. But when it comes to items such as whale sashimi there is essentially not a great deal of difference. It's the other dishes such as steaks with sauces that provides the distinguishment.
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Official homepage: www.taruichi.co.jp
Address: 5F, Daiichi Asakawa Bldg., 1-17-12 Kabuki-cho Shinjuku-ku TokyoGoogle Maps link
When to go: Any day except Sunday and Holidays
Labels: Taruichi, whale gourmet