Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics
A new restaurant in Tokyo's downtown Akasaka district that opened late last year serving whale gained some attention in local media in February, when it fully kicked into business.
Here's an article (in Japanese) from the Akasaka Keizai Newspaper
. Magonotei is apparently run by the same operator as the Akanedoki restaurant in Shinjuku, which opened 3 years ago.
After Magonotei opened, they started by doing some test marketing for three months to study the preferences of Akasaka diners. At the end of this period they fixed their grand menu and kicked off on February 17.
From their experience at Akanedoki they were able to secure a supplier of high quality whale meat, and much knowledge of whale recipes. And so it was that they decided to branch out to Akasaka. A representative for the operator is quoted saying "Although Akasaka is in the center of Tokyo, we are the only ones who can offer such high quality whale meat at reasonable prices".
"I'm of the last generation that had whale cuisine served in school lunches", the quote in the article continues. "These days there are many younger people who've never eaten whale. For Japan's ancient traditional food to disappear, even though I know the wonderful taste, would be unfortunate. I want younger people especially to eat cheap, good quality whale meat and get a surprise about how delicious it is." His PR pitch continues, "Whale meat is low in calories compared to cow meat and pig meat, and low in cholesterol. And on top of that it's rich in protein, so I expect women will be pleased."
Included on the Grand Menu is sashimi
(780 yen), tatsuta-age
(fried whale - 720 yen), kujira cutlets (1,080 yen), kujira hot plate steak (1,180 yen), sarashi
kujira (480), and other peculiarities such as whale tongue (720 yen). Apparently all items use fresh minke whale, according to the article, although one imagines it must have been frozen first.
"Especially now, the whaling issue is being taken up in the news and I feel that interest in it is heightening. We've had more customers here debating about whaling over their drinks", the quotes note.
Magonotei is open from 11:30 to 14:30 on weekdays (catering to the Akasaka lunch market), and is open for dinner from 17:00 to 23:30 Monday to Thursday, until 04:00 on Fridays and days before holidays, and from 16:00 to 23:00 on Weekends and holidays.
* * *Food Stadium (Tokyo Food News Online)
also has a similar article. In this one it notes the restaurant is "aiming to become an izakaya
where every item on the menu is delicious, and customers want to come here everyday". They also have specially selected foods besides whales selected, included domestically produced vegetables and so on.
The article also mentions the restaurant interior, which has a nostalgic atmosphere of an old folk house in the countryside.
"There are many people who have a bad image of whale, but its a foodstuff that is healthy and rich in nutrition so I really hope to have women and younger people it. I'm sure once you eat it you will recognise its appeal." The article wraps up saying that whale is worth checking as 2010's "health and beauty food".
* * *
And so, the pictures! I went twice in March. If you go, be sure to check for the menu coupon in Hot Pepper etc, you can choose either a free plate of 5 whale items or others such as drinks discounts etc. (Check Gurunabi here: http://r.gnavi.co.jp/a636504/
, Hot Pepper here: http://www.hotpepper.jp/strJ000760684/
). We went for the free plate of whale, picture included below.
First here's the menu. The section on the bottom right (enlarged) is espousing the nutritional value of whale.
And some of the wall decoration, a piece of baleen:
And a variety of dishes we had:
This one below is the free one we got for having the coupon:
Whoops, looks like we had half eaten this one before I snapped the photo.
They don't skimp on the whale here (or they just treated us good - it was my second visit there plus I've been to Akanedoki several times), check out how thick they cut the pieces (from above):
This one below is a hot plate of whale steak and fried potato. Looks delicious, even with the poor photo quality of my mobile phone camera.
Another type of sashimi:
Whale, Carpaccio style:
And finally kujira cutlets:
Magonotei, like Akanedoki, is a great restaurant, and as noted in the articles they serve items besides whale too, if whale ain't your thing. But if you are reading this blog, I guess it is :)
Labels: Magonotei, whale gourmet