Sometimes work truly does have benefits and pay-backs. Not only did I get to know more about my client that we were dining, namely Noel Kelaita, but that we go to do that over some absolutely incredible authentic Japanese food, courtesy of Fu-Ru-Ken.
I can’t tell you where as the business card is all written in Japanese, but pop along to;
It was just so very good. Up a side street off the main drag in one of Tokyo’s busting suburbs. Walk up a slight incline and you’ll see a small sign of a red box and some Japanese writing. Very small and unassuming though, perhaps not even A4 in size. Up to the first floor, shoes off (whoops I forgot
about my rather gaudy socks), private room, low seats, peaceful, nothing flash at all, it just felt so very good. Hideki-san and Hiroko-san are my work colleagues, and Noel-san I mentioned before, all sat, chatting, laughing, drinking and of course eating.
As you know me from previous blogs, fish and I are not best friends when it comes to consuming them. As you know I have no issue cooking them, but chewing them after is not my favourite taste in the world. Now I’ll eat them raw, but will draw a line at anything oily – like mackerel. I just do not dig the taste of that at all, so very bloody fishy. So the funny thing was is that Fu-Ru-Ken is about 80% fish, and is banquet style with many many course – oh shit!!! What to do as Noel-san had recommended this joint, chew on bravely or be honest and cough up? I did the latter.
They were all fine with my situation, in fact the waitress then suggested how about we get one meat and one fish style banquet. Now that sounds cool thought I, and the rest of our dinner colleagues all agreed it was a great idea. Phew thought I, saved at the last minute. Now what she didn’t say was that of the 11 meat courses only one is meat, one is vegetable and the other NINE are fish, ha ha ha ha. Blimey this’ll be a test – yep I’ll have another beer and a large Saki please sweetheart, I may need some help swallowing. But what transpired dish after dish after dish was that I gave them all a go, some were exquisite and some I could just not consume.
One by one I’ll step you though that now. Apologies in advance for the photo quality. I only had iPhone with me, and the room was quite low lit.
And first up is eel. Wow they’re giving me an easy start, NOT. Deep fried eel in a light batter, served with ponzu jelly, and some vegetables. I have to say this was bloody good. The eel is not really fishy at all, and surprisingly not earthy either – it was just nice and smoky in flavour and then off-set by the citrus jelly. Hey not bad, like it!!!
And #2. Hey that looks OK, some sort of broth, some cheeses, a rice cracker. Not bad not bad at all. Wait a minute she’s explaining something. OK mash it all together so the cheeses mix with the fish and abalone – hold on. So using my spoon lets moves some of that cheese aside, yep there’s all the fishy bits. Let’s go. Another beer and Saki please. Again actually this turned out really nice. I could not eat the fish, but the abalone with the cheese was damned good. Chalk up two, and chalk up two rather nice dishes.
Here comes #3, yep more fish ha ha. This time sashimi. This is cool, I like sashimi. Uni, or sea urchin roe, some squid, 2 types of tuna, some other firm white fish, a little mustard squirted around the plate and a blob on the bottom left. Looks a bit rough does’t it? Any ideas what the hell that is? Well my friends that is sour plum with seaweed, and I can tell you now that little nugget is absolutely delicious. This was a lovely dish.
Stop the bus – first non-fish dish hits the table. And what a cracker this was. A sweetcorn fritter, so all nicely fried batter with sweetcorn. Yum. But then add another subtle twist by adding truffle salt, or truffle oil. Yes they did. On man I loved this dish. Seriously good.
Wey hey its a meat course. Sorry rather THE meat course. I think this was a balsamic dressing, with whole grain mustard, with some snake beans. To be absolutely honest I preferred some of the fish courses to the meat. It was nice, but that ponzu jelly with eel was a belter.
And now to the one I could not eat. One bite was enough of this one, cooked tuna, well breaded and deep fried tuna. Sad to say I cannot stand cooked tuna. The sashimi earlier was scummy, this not so. I had to leave this one sadly. Many apologies chef. Its just not my bag!
Without doubt the very best miso soup I have ever had. Again sadly I am not a huge lover of Miso because of the seaweed and tuna flakes that are used to make the broth before adding the miso paste. But this one, this one was a belter. I don’t know what they added, but my goodness. It was almost like a smoked paprika, tomato miso. It was just knock out. I could eat this by the gallon. Just the best ever!
Ah goodie here comes the rice. Phew some nice plain rice. Tastes a little fishy though, that’s weird. Then up pops… oysters. OMG it’s oyster rice, not plain rice. Now I can eat one or two fresh oysters, but again cooked is not my bag. Sadly this one did not consumer too greatly by yours truly.
And saving the best to last ha ha. WTF. Some snail with cannabis leaves? Is this going to try to crawl off my plate or eat the leaves? Who knows. Its a big bugger. This gorgeous looking creature is called Sazae, or horned turban sea snail. I doubt this owl db first on my list to order again. But hey I ate it and it wasn’t actually that bad apart from the arse bit (not so nice). So turn off those eyes and dig in – it was truly OK.
So to the serious bit I suppose.
Another major thank you to Noel-san, Hideki-san and Hitoko-san for such a wonderful evening and experience. I did indeed need a few beers afterwards ha ha. It was great.
Beautiful restaurant with truly amazing food. I would just encourage us all to have a go, and turn of those ‘I can’t eat it attitudes’. Seriously at least try and if you don’t like then hey that’s fine, but at least you tried. I think UK should adopt a more Japanese and Spanish style of eating – tapas rocks as you can try many dishes and if one does not take your fancy, hey you got another 10 dishes coming.
So please try. And if you happen to be in Tokyo pop along to Fu-Ru-Ken – bloody brilliant!!!
Location: Tokyo, Minato-ku, Nishi-Azabu 2-25-12 Nishi-Azabu Eitobiru 2F