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Sakura mystery meat (SD)

Josh Apr 18, 2007 11:33 AM

So last night I dined at Sakura and ordered the Oden. Atop the bowl, on a skewer, were two rubbery meat bits. They tasted kind of bitter, and the texture seemed inedible. What the heck was this stuff? Anyone know?

  1. cgfan Apr 18, 2007 12:45 PM

    Of course it would be best if you had a photo, but barring that I'm almost positive that what you had was a "cake" formed out of devil's root tongue flour called konyaku. It's very common to see in oden, and it's a very interesting and unique product which I believe originated out of vegetarian temple cuisine. It's known in Japan as being very healthy, as it is low in calories but very high in fiber.

    The bitter taste may be due to the use of limewater as part of it's production.

    It's normally a mottled brownish to greyish cake, but it also comes in white. In the stores it is sold in many different shapes and sizes, from the standard rectangular cake form to triangular, noodle, or ball shapes as well.

    My bet is that this is what you had, though I'm puzzled why it would be on a skewer...

    On the other hand as kare_raisu suggests it could also be beef tendon (niku suji), but usually it is cooked long enough to be somewhat soft but with a very pronounced bite. Konyaku doesn't seem to soften up like niku suji does, and niku suji never has a bitter taste. While konyaku does absorb some flavors from the broth it is cooked in, niku suji takes on a broth's flavor to a much greater degree, so would tend to taste savory if cooked in a savory broth such as an oden broth...

    If you're not sure which perhaps the shape would be very telling. Konyaku tends to take on very geometric shapes due to how it is produced or cut from the cake. Niku suji tends to look, on the other hand, somewhat amorphous/organic looking. They both tend to take on a somewhat uniform texture, but niku suji somewhat less so, especially if it is cut across multiple tendon structures. Konyaku, on the other hand, is absolutely uniform in texture.

    Josh, hope this help to narrow it down...

    6 Replies
    1. re: cgfan
      Josh Apr 18, 2007 01:07 PM

      Sounds like it must have been the beef tendon. Only one of the bites of it was bitter, the rest kind of bland. Not one of the favorite food items I've evperienced.

      1. re: Josh
        carln Apr 18, 2007 02:22 PM

        it might also be eel liver. That would show up on a skewer.

        1. re: carln
          Josh Apr 18, 2007 03:10 PM

          I looked up some pix of beef tendon, that's definitely what it was.

          1. re: Josh
            cgfan Apr 18, 2007 03:13 PM

            FYI for those of you who have not seen konyaku if you click on the link from kare_raisu's post above (http://flickr.com/photos/coconutto/35... ) you will see a triangular (and scored) piece of konyaku in the front of the bowl...

            1. re: cgfan
              amyzan Apr 19, 2007 10:34 AM

              When I've had konnyaku in the oden at Sakura, it's a thin piece (less than 1/4") sliced from a block shape with rounded sides. Then they sliced a center slit, and fold it in through the slit to make a decorative rounded rectangular piece with rotini-like curves. Very chewy, but not unpleasant.

              1. re: amyzan
                cgfan Apr 19, 2007 11:07 AM

                What you saw was a very traditional presentation technique used with konyaku. I'm sure it even has a name to the form...

    2. kare_raisu Apr 18, 2007 12:24 PM

      I am almost compeletely positive that its beef tendon Josh. I really want to try this - I love oden but havent had that yet....!

      1 Reply
      1. re: kare_raisu
        kare_raisu Apr 18, 2007 12:30 PM

        http://flickr.com/photos/coconutto/35...

      2. Pablo Apr 18, 2007 11:40 AM

        Unagi kimo? Kinda chewy, faint liver taste?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Pablo
          Josh Apr 18, 2007 11:44 AM

          To my eye, they looked like cartilage of some kind.

          1. re: Josh
            k
            KirkK Apr 18, 2007 12:23 PM

            I've had the Oden at Sakura, and it was served with Gyusuji - Beef Tendon on a skewer. I don't recall it being bitter, but it was on the hard and tough side.

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