The Gyuu No Tataki at Nihonbashi, which I can’t even look at directly without drooling.
Sushi, typically raw fish on rice, doesn’t surprise me anymore, but the idea of raw beef on rice does. Yet it is insanely delicious. I’m thinking more things should be eaten raw, with the exception, I suppose of salmonella prone chicken. Raw food contains less calories than cooked food and it also seems to be effective birth control for people on a 100% raw diet (Discover Magazine). That’s a joke though. No one should eat everything raw, but fish and beef for pleasure? Definitely. Nihonbashi is the best place in Colombo, if you’re gnawsome.
Here’s from Shru’s review of the ODEL outlet:
My favourite dish is the gyuu no tataki – this is seared raw beef served with spring onions in a delicious and tangy soy-like sauce (not sure what it is). It’s one of best things I’ve eaten, ever. And it’s an all-consuming experience – there’s a scene in Ratatouille that describes how I feel – it’s like seeing and tasting fireworks in your brain. You really need to try it, it’s divine. (YAMU | Nihonbashi)
My own review is similar. It’s just one of those things were you close your eyes and feel both an animal and a divine joy.
The Guu No Tataki Temar at Nihonbashi, raw beef on rice.
They also have a counterpoint to what is essentially the beef sashimi up top, the beef sushi pictured here. I include both in the broader term ‘sushi’, which isn’t quite canonical, but how gaijin use the word. Anyways, it’s also tasty. Not as mentally orgasmic as the raw beef alone, but I feel the same way about sashimi vs. sushi. Still excellent. Oh goodness, this is hard to write about.
Many Sri Lankans avoid beef for good reasons (cows are cool) but I’ve started eating it more often just because beef is tasty. I mean, no beef with the cows in my neighborhood, but beef is good. It’s funny how religions have proscriptions on the tastiest meats – beef (Hindus, many Buddhists), pork (Muslims, Jews) and shellfish (Orthodox Jews) – but pretty much everyone eats chicken. The unholy and lowly descendent of the dinosaurs. But I digress.
On that note, here are some more digressions. These are fun facts from an old book review in the New York Times, on The Zen Of Fish.
1. The original sushi was preserved fish, not raw.
“The Japanese tradition of eating fresh raw fish has nothing to do with sushi,” Corson tells us. “Sushi began as a way of preserving old fish.” Rice farmers in Southeast Asia would pack fish in jars with cooked rice to preserve it. The fermented result tasted more like stinky cheese than like fresh hamachi; the Japanese, in adopting the strategy, gradually shortened the fermentation time, developing a fresher style of sushi that still relied on fermented rice for its distinctive sour taste. This fish, usually carp, was salted and pressed in rice under a stone. (NYTimes)
2. The original sushi was street food.
What we now think of as sushi — Edo-mae nigiri — was invented as fast food for laborers, served by outdoor vendors from small carts. Soy sauce was offered, probably to mimic the fermented fish taste of the earlier style. (NYTimes)
3. Modern sushi transport times match the traditional burial times.
Meantime, a Japan Airlines employee named Akira Okazaki was trying to find a way to fill the empty cargo holds of returning JAL flights, planes that had flown to North America full of Japanese manufactured and electronic goods.. By summer of 1974, 91 percent of outgoing cargo on JAL flights from Canada was bluefin bound for Tokyo.
“Sushi had started as a form of preservation,” Issenberg says, “but it was becoming precisely the opposite: a way of using the infrastructure of modernity to chaperone a delicate dish around the world.” By the mid-’70s, according to Issenberg, a bluefin caught in the Atlantic on Sunday could be eaten for lunch in Tokyo on Wednesday. Which, conveniently enough, is about the exact amount of time it takes bluefin to develop optimal flavor and texture. “The Japanese have a nickname for bluefin — shibi,” Corson writes. “It means ‘four days.’ In the age before refrigeration, when someone caught a bluefin, he buried it in the ground for four days before eating it.” (ibid)
But, of course, I digress. Sushi is a fascinating thing, though it’s growing popularity, linked to rising incomes, is a threat to global tuna and other fish stocks around the world. In Sri Lanka almost all of the good tuna from our shores is shipped out tout suite to Japan for the lucrative auctions there. Thankfully Darshan at Nihonbashi keeps some supply here for local nomnom, as he does with crab at Ministry Of Crab.
While sushi may not be as novel as it used to be, beef sushi is, at least to me. The only other place to get such tingly raw tastiness would be the beef carpaccio at Chesa Swiss, but simply popping in at having it as a bite at the ODEL Nihonbashi is a bit cheaper at Rs. 460. Though it is mouth-watering and will make you more hungry, blurring the other prices on the menu.