Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tokyo Day 1 - Ganso Kujiraya 元祖 くじら屋

Disclaimer: If eating whale bothers you, or if you have strong feelings against eating such animals and can't keep your thoughts to yousrself , don't read this post.

I was doing research into what to do in Tokyo, when I came across this website. Ganso Kujiraya is located at Shibuya, around a 5 min walk from the Hachiko exit. It's a posh restaurant, with many private rooms. I'm not sure what the usual price of whale meat is like so I can't say if it's expensive or not. Ganso Kujiraya's menu is really very comprehensive, from the whale heart, jaw, tongue, skin, caudal fin done in a myriad of ways - raw, smoked, roasted, fried, baked, stewed etc. It's supposed to be one of the better places to have whale meat. A platter of sliced raw whale meat and skin costs 2100 yen including taxes (about SGD $30plus).
The sliced raw meat (the one on the left) has a dark red hue and looks a bit like lean beef. It's like a cross between beef and tuna, and tasted more like tuna than beef to me. The texture was somewhat like normal grade tuna (maguro) just that it was bloodier. The whale skin sashimi (the white one) has a very interesting texture. It's slightly broader than a piece of Wriggly's chewing gum and is of about the same thickness. The slices are all uniform in size and thickness. It does not have much smell or any distinctive taste. It has an intensely oily and fatty taste once you start chewing. I also tried the whale steak, which came with deep fried garlic and a salty miso/teriyaki sauce. The steak was pretty tough, and it had a texture exactly like beef but didn't really have much taste (perhaps the taste was masked by all the sauce and garlic) which was such a pity. I think that one can get a tastier, juicier and softer piece of steak with the same amount of money (though I don't eat beef...)
Personally, I don't feel that whale meat tastes incredibly delicious or is a must try dish. It just tastes rather ordinary. But then again, it's part of Japan's (and Iceland's and Norway's) culture as much as sushi is. I won't ever go out of my way again to try whale meat cos it's not a pwahr kind of feeling you get when you eat something delicious.

Ganso Kujiraya 元祖 くじら屋
Tel: 03.3461.9145 2-29-22
Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Dinner approximately JPY3,000 - JPY6,000 per person (I ordered very little so it came to about 2000 yen per person for the 2 dishes we tried)
Open every day
Hours: 11.30-22.30 (-23.30 on Fridays and Saturdays)
Number of seatings: table 96, no counter seats
From this site(since I'm directionally challenged): If you'd like to try whale when you go to Tokyo, you can find this whale restaurant not far from Shibuya train station. Take the Hachiko exit and look for building 109. Walk up the street that is on the right side of building 109 and after about a block you should see it on your left.

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