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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



Whale dish serving Izakaya - Hananomai

Long time readers will possibly recall some older coverage I did of Hananomai, a typical Japanese izakaya restaurant, which put whale dishes on it's permanent menu a few years back.

Unlike other whale specialty shops I've introduced here from time to time, Hananomai is a chain restaurant, and can seemingly be found in various places around Tokyo, and probably other centres as well.

We had some visitors come and stay with us earlier this year, and as you do we tried to show them some things unique to Japan, including a morning visit to watch a Sumo wrestlers training session (at Musashigawa-beya), and following along with the Sumo theme we also took them to Ryogoku (where the National Sumo Stadium is located) that evening for dinner.

There is a Hananomai restaurant there at the train station with a big Sumo wrestling ring in the middle of place, encircled by tables for diners. I'm pretty sure it's not a regular thing they do, but at least on the evening that we went an ex-Sumo wrestler was up in the ring - singing (pictured).

Anyway this was my first time to actually dine at Hananomai, and of course I was curious to see these upgraded whale dishes that were supposedly to be found.

"Kujira", the Chinese character for whale emblazons this section of the menu, consisting of two choices. "Our popular tatsuta-age", says the subtitle next to the Fried Whale offering (714 yen including consumption tax). "Goes great with Shochu", says the one next to the similarly priced Whale Bacon option, encouraging customers to also order a drink of Japanese spirits. At Hananomai the amount of kilocalories per dish is also clearly labeled.

We didn't order these for our non-Japanese speaking foreign guests. They were already suffering from a bit of culture shock after finding an unexpected crunch in the fried chicken cartilage that we had put in front of them, so I resisted the urge to order whale on this occasion.

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