What with all of the focus on the higher end dining in Tokyo, I thought it might be nice to take in something a little more simple like, say, tempura. Of course, not just any tempura but the high quality offerings served at Fukamachi in Kyobashi where I lunched with two other people: my fellow foodie and traveler Stefan, and fellow Canadian (teaching English in Japan), Miriam.
Fukamachi is a small place by North American standards, but positively spacious in comparison to some of the other counter restaurants I’ve frequented in Tokyo.
Each item came crisp, hot, and perfectly fried. No doubt the best tempura meal I’ve ever had. Still, I have to admit that tempura is not high on my list of favored menu items. It falls roughly somewhere in the middle. Having said that, if you like tempura, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better.
Okay, you see a lot of crazy things in Japan, but this was a first for me. I witnessed the arrest of a cartoon character…
We strolled through the temple area after about an hour of walking around, looking for that damn knife shop. We finally found it. It was the size of your bathroom. We walked in and found the owner sitting on the floor, sharpening knives. He didn’t so much as look up at us or even acknowledge our presence (a simple grunt would’ve been nice). Needless to say, Stefan didn’t pick anything up. Nor did he find his ninja shoes.
For dinner, I headed off to La Bombance in Nishi-Azabu. It’s a small, basement level restaurant comprised of a large room with one long table, and a recessed area capable of seating four. I was early and took a seat, waiting for our spots to open up. While I was waiting, a beautiful Japanese girl in her mid-twenties stepped into view, smiled and apologized for keeping me waiting, and proceeding to put on her coat, chatting with her O.S. (that’s film-speak for Off Screen) companion the whole time. I wondered “Girl’s night out?”. Not quite. Her companion turned out to be a silver-haired gentlemen easily in his late sixties. Anyway, I thought it was really nice of this guy to take out his grand-daughter on what was, no doubt, some special occasion. You don’t see enough of that in North America.
I was seated and, eventually, MY dining companions showed: Stefan once again, and Jon, a Chicago native who has been living in Toyo for five years. Jon arrived a little late because his boss decided to call an impromptu 6:30 p.m. meeting, right before quitting time. We had a great time discussing office work in Japan. Apparently, Jon gets into the office at 8:15 a.m. and works until 7:00 p.m., demonstrating a seriously wanting work ethic when compared to his boss who usually stays until 11:00 p.m.
“Check out the menu,”I told Stefan. “Let me know if there’s anything you don’t like.”
As it turned out, he had no objections – mainly because our menu was written in kanji.
Unfortunately, the lighting in the room was poor so many of the pics didn’t turn out so what follows are the highlights. Our first dish was comprised of mizuna (?) greens, tofu, crab, and, fugu. Again with the fugu! Jon informed us that the chances were infintesmally small, but we were at greater risk of being poisoned by fugu at a high-end restaurant than one of the many cheaper fugu eateries in town because the cheaper places make use of farmed fugu that has had the poison bred out of them. Something to think about the next time I’m hankering for some fugu.
…some grilled meat, fish, and what I initially took to be lotus roots that turned out to be some other root vegetable I’d never heard of before.
We followed up with some nice grilled chicken, served with chestnut and pressed roe.
For dessert, a black sesame sherbert that proved far too granular, and a far more successful white coffee pudding-ish offering that, mercifully, contained no fugu.
After we had completed our meal, Chef/Owner Makoto Okamoto (who’d been serving us throughout the night), poured us each a glass of liqueur. I’m not a huge drinker but managed to finish mine first – which resulted in Makoto-san refilling my glass.
We talked food with Makoto-san and, after chatting about that mystery root vegetable, he gifted each of us with a bagged sample.
Apparently, La Bombance will be moving in January of 2010, just a few blocks up the street. As we were discussing the move, Jon asked the chef if he had a map. The chef disappeared into the back and then returned to continue the discussion. Some fifteen minutes went by at which point Makoto-san assured us that he had dispatched the waitress to fulfill Jon’s request. “He sent the poor girl out to find me a map,”said Jon.
Well, we waited and waited. And we didn’t get a map. But, we were served this…
And suddenly, it dawned on Jon and I at the same time. I turned and asked him: “Did you ask for chizu (a map) or chiizu (cheese)?” By way of a response, we never did get that map.
Chef Makoto-san was a wonderful host and saw us out and the three of us trekked back to Roppogni station, by some poor guy trying to corral his staggering, inebriated girlfriend, and this interesting establishment…
Another memorable day and I am now officially past the halfway mark of my Tokyo trip. Besides the many restaurants, there’s still much ground to be covered like the giant gundam in Shinjuku, maid cafes, and, of course, Ice Cream City.