A couple of weeks ago someone stopped me in the street and asked “Hey, aren’t you the NAGMAG burger guy?” After making a quick risk assessment as to whether or not he wanted to smack ‘the NAGMAG burger guy’ in the face, I admitted that yes, I was indeed he. “You’re lucky, getting to eat all those burgers,” he said. “It must be tough keeping the weight off,” and then he glanced down at my waistline and let loose an involuntary wince that unambiguously read ‘oooooh, sorry!’
Yes, fame has come, but at a price. Regular readers of my missives will know of my sporadic attempted battles to contain the corpulence, so it should come as to no surprise that when I was asked to visit Odaidokoro Furari in Sakae I accepted with a sense of relief and not a little hope.
A sister restaurant to Furari Sushi in Fushimi, Odaidokoro Furari opened as recently as June and specializes in inexpensive, healthy ‘teishoku’, a Japanese set meal traditionally served with rice, miso soup and a main dish decorated by the chef’s inspiration. Needless to say I was quite excited.
I arrived at what I presumed would be a quiet time following the lunch rush, but they were still surprisingly busy, a positive testament to the popularity of what is still a pretty new eatery. I was shown to a table in the stylish but unpretentious restaurant – a mix of traditional Japanese wood with a hint of 1960s Italian jazz chic – and given a menu. And what a menu it was. For a start it was written in English, and obviously by a native speaker: there was no amusing/confusing Japangrish here, and it was absolutely packed to the rafters with amazing stuff. There were 7 (Seven) types of sashimi dish that included one of my favourites, the sashimi donburi rice bowl. Another set that caught my eye thanks to my predilection towards rare meat, was the rare tuna cutlet with oroshi ponzu sauce. The Pacific cod was another dish over which I agonized thanks to its brightly coloured array of fresh vegetables, but just as I was about to order, a tray was carried past my table and I was smitten.
“What’s that?” I begged of my waiter. Moments later the Kyoto-style grilled black cod arrived at my table and I was sure that I had made the right choice. My one problem was that, as is so often the case with teishoku meal sets, everything looked so good I didn’t quite know where to begin. My chopsticks hovered over the tray for a seeming eternity until finally, of all places, they landed in the bowl of rice, I scooped some up and shoved it into my mouth.
Now this sounds ridiculous, because rice is just rice, right? But my first thought was ‘this rice is fantastic’. Honestly. I immediately picked up my notebook and scribbled “really good rice!” I later discovered that Odaidokoro Furari’s rice is cooked in the traditional way using a ‘kama’, so it’s no wonder that it was ‘really good’.
Greatly encouraged by the rice I delved in to the rest, starting with the grilled cod. It was light, fluffy, fell apart with the slightest touch of a chopstick and dressed in a delicate citrus sauce. The tempura that accompanied it – prawn, asparagus, shiso, renkon and pumpkin – was so subtle as to be almost elegant, and the chawanmushi egg custard was as tender as it was delicious.
Now, I’m going to let you in to a little secret: despite living in Nagoya, the miso heartland, I’m no fan of miso soup. There, I’ve said it. But even though I was really full, everything else had been so good I thought to myself ‘what the hell’ and went for the plunge. And do you know what? I really enjoyed that too, and I was sat there with a completely empty teishoku tray in front of me. That’s never happened to me before.
The thing is though, it’s not even that I was still hungry. In fact, I was ‘full as a gun’, as my grandmother used to say, but everything was so fresh, so well balanced, and each dish accompanied the other so perfectly, that I found myself compelled to continue until only the empty dishes on my table stood as evidence that there had once been a meal there.
And so, that evening, feeling good about the beginning of my new healthy lifestyle, with plans to return to Odaidokoro Furari at my soonest convenience, I went for a run around Meijo Koen, following an hour’s workout, ready to become a healthier, slimmer, better me. And anyone who tells you that they saw me that night on the piss in Hub is a rogue, a scoundrel and a damned liar.
Unizo Inn Nagoya Sakae Higashi 1F
3-2 Shinsakaemachi, Naka-ku
Tel: (052) 951-2325