Last night, Randy’s HR department took us out to dinner as a sort of belated “Welcome-to-Tokyo” gesture. They brought us to this fancy restaurant near Azabu-Juban called Gai-Gai. I didn’t know what to expect since their website is only in Japanese, but when I read the English menu at the table I was relieved to see that they had all of my favorite comfort foods: chicken, green vegetables, pork, and soba.
However upon further exploration we learned that they had the words “sashimi” next to them. “Hmmm?,” I thought. I’m used to that word being associated with fish, not poultry. Surely it doesn’t mean it’s going to prepared the same way as sushi, right? I mean, you can’t serve raw chicken, right?
All of their featured chicken items are served raw. And it wasn’t just chicken breasts…raw chicken liver, raw chicken heart, raw chicken gizzards, raw chicken neck (apparently, a specialty). I should have suspected something was up when the first thing they brought to the table (the way a waiter brings bread at the beginning of a meal in the US) was a fish head – scales, eyes and all. How exactly does one eat such a thing.
So, here’s a breakdown of our meal:
This would be raw chicken breast, served with ginger and/or wasabi. After the fish head thing (which I neglected to photograph), this was the first food item brought to us. You just grab the raw chicken with your chopsticks, dip it into soy sauce, then chew.
The next item was more chicken, this time VERY lightly seared so that outside layer is white, but the inside remains raw. The rear pieces are served with plum, the front pieces are served with wasabi.
Now is also the time that the “green vegetables” we ordered arrived. The serving consisted of a single layer of lettuce (green) over a mashed up mess of white vegetables (no green to be found), all coated in a slimy fishy liquid. Somehow, I neglected to photograph this.
Next we had some fully cooked chicken. There were three selections of chicken from three different regions of Japan. I thought all chicken was the same, but there was a distinct difference between each chicken. The first we tasted was tender, the second was fattier and chewy, the third was terribly chewy. But at least it was cooked.
These were quite tasty…small tomatoes wrapped in Iberico pig.
And then is started getting strange again. Now we’re served soft-boiled quail eggs and chicken liver. Randy chickened out on the liver, but I ate it. He says it was cooked (how he’d know since he didn’t eat any is beyond me). All I know is that it was cold and disgusting.
But that was quickly followed by this incredibly tasty (cooked) Iberico pig with ginko nuts. I could have had multiple plates full of this item.
Finally, they served this mystery ground meat served with raw egg. We never did get a proper description of what it was, but it was warm and tasty.
And there you have it…documentation of a real adventure in gastronomy! I’ve had others (horse, for example), but the raw chicken was, by far, the most unsettling.
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