As a frequent traveler to Japan, when it comes to “challenging” food items I’ve come across (think fish eye collagen, fermented squid intestine, slimy natto soybeans) I own up to my limits and know when to wave the white flag and admit defeat. Raised on the standard American diet, sometimes my palate just goes on strike when faced with an exotic Japanese delicacy worthy of Fear Factor.
As I learned on a recent visit to Takashi Yakiniku Restaurant for an outstanding Tedorigawa Sake event, I don’t have to travel all the way to Japan to have my gastronomical limits tested. The event was hosted by World Sake Imports and featured special guest Yasuyuki Yoshida, the 6th Genergation Kuramoto from Yoshida Sake Brewery, makers of Tedorigawa brand sake.
Sakes served at this event:
- Tedorigawa “Kokoshu” Daiginjo (Surprise Sake!)
The event description for this evening promised “four fantastic sakes plus a special surprise sake”. Now, when a sake brewer says he’s bringing a “special surprise sake”, you pretty much have to go. (Spoiler Alert: I kinda fell in love with the special surprise sake.)
Yoshida-san did a sake brewing internship at Dewazakura Sake Brewery, so he included the delicious Dewazakura Tobiroku Sparkling Gingo in his sake selection. It was a genius choice – the clean and dry sparkle and bubble tasted great with the steak!
The highlight of this group of really, really good sake was the surprise Tedorigawa “Kokoshu” Daiginjo. Aged for 3 years at very cold temperatures, this Koshu/aged sake was a dream. The body of this sake was ultra smooth and the palate had a ‘loft’ to it that was truly remarkable… it was akin to drinking clouds, if they were made of sake, of course. Needless to day, I heart Tedorigawa “Kokoshu” Daiginjo! From start to finish, all the sake was flawless and flowed generously!
Shock and Eeeew
On to the food. I stumbled a bit with a few of the “Horumon” dishes served at Takashi. Horumon literally means “discarded goods” and refers to serving organs, guts and offal. (I PROMISE no offal/awful jokes!!!).
The first dish that caused me pause was Nama-Senmai: Flash boiled cow third stomach with spciy miso sauce. This didn’t get better when I was presented Takashi’s Testicargot: Cow testicles served escargot style. The final stumbling block was the Horumon Moriawase: Chef’s selection of offal including cow first stomach, cow fourth stomach, heart, sweetbreads (thymus gland), and liver, all to be grilled at the table yakiniku style. I didn’t touch any of the above with a ten foot pole. But did I go hungry? Not on your life!
Where Takashi really shines for me is in the standard cuts of beef, dressed in delicious marinades and grilled right in front of you at the table. These cuts included beef belly, kobe short rib, harami skirt steak and thinly sliced beef tongue. Followed by a nori wrapped rice ball and some fantastic salty caramel soft serve, I was set!
Hands Across the River
As the event was winding down, Yoshida-san thanked all the guests for coming and said a few parting remarks. He explained the meaning of his brand name “Te-Dori-Gawa” which roughly translates to “Hands bridging across the river”. This is a reference to they way people used to cross the river before a bridge was there – people would join hands and form a human chain to span the water.
Then suddenly, without prompting, all the guests at Takashi spontaneously clasped hands down the length of the restaurant and cheered for Te-dori-gawa! Ladies and Gentlemen, that is sake magic at work!
This was a delightful, really fun and gastronomically adventurous event, even if I skipped the really scary stuff. And, seriously, you can’t beat that delicious Tedorigawa Sake. I’d stare down a whole corral of Testicargot for just one more sip of Kokoshu!