Tokyo, Shinjuku - Tatsukichi [Kushiage]
(apologies to Uncle Yabai, who mentioned in a previous thread that this is one of his secret favourite places; but since it's already mentioned before on the boards (albeit not really on the "radar" of most), and in the spirit of the boards, here goes:)
Tatsukichi [2012.03.23 | Dinner]
Located in Shinjuku, behind the now-defunct Mitsukoshi Alcott shopping centre, Tatsukichi is not exactly difficult to find, if you have managed to look up its location on google maps before you head out. However, there are no English signs, so you do have to know how to read the shop sign in Kanji in order to find it.
Efficient, but expect to be in a queue, as no reservations are taken. Counter seating only. No written menu (as far as I know), no English spoken; the chef will start to place fried sticks in front of you after explaining the various condiments; you tell him to stop when you are full.
Depending on the season, you will get sticks with different ingredients. My dining partners and I had:
Prawn wrapped in shiso
Asparagus with bacon, tartar(?) sauce
White fish (?) with seaweed (?)
Kazunoko (herring roe) with konbu
Wagyu with grained mustard
Kogomi (a type of mountain vegetable)
Salmon and cheese
Butterbur with bacon
White fish (?) with mountain vegetables (?), topped with chopped onions
White fish (?) wrapped in shiso
(Notice that there are many question marks in the list. Without the benefit of a menu, I can only rely on my hazy memory, as well as the various photographs I've taken of the food, to come up with the above list. If anyone can identify / correct my list, please do feel free to do so!)
With each stick, the chef will make a suggestion as to which condiment to use.
All the sticks are expertly fried (the ingredients still taste fresh and juicy, not greasy). The batter could be a bit thinner, but that's really nit-picking on my part (i.e. it's probably going to be a lot better than most fried foods you'd have tried outside Japan).
We also got a jellyfish in ponzu as a palette cleanser after the 10th stick, and tea after the last stick.
Even with the sticks being not quite greasy, and the palette cleanser, my dining partners and I could only manage 14 sticks each. There is a board outside the restaurant showing the top eaters based on number of sticks consumed, and the first guy on it managed a whopping 170 sticks! How he managed to complete the feat, I will never know.
Approximately 5000 yen with drinks. Interesting experience; I'd return again!
〒160-0022 東京都 新宿区 新宿3-34-16 池田プラザビル 4F
+81 3 3341 9322
Given this word of mouth, I am thinking of trying it in my upcoming trip. I wonder how does Tatsukichi compare with Rokukaku-tei (apart from R being much more expensive)? I have been to Rokukaku-tei a couple of times (in tokyo and in osaka) but was not that impressed. I notice that Rokukaku-tei even has a higher score in tabelog. Of the Kushiage shops I tried, Abon (Kobe) really stood out (in the choice of ingredients, their combination and in the skills with which the chef dispatch the frying process).
Was the number one eater Kobayashi? Cause 170 sticks is insane.
Kobayashi came to my uncle's sushi shop one time and ate like 70+ plates of sushi (two pieces per plate) in like 28 minutes or something. I think he was practicing for a contest cause he later went on to beat that record.
re: Robb S
guess i should have asked if there's a menu. i knew that they list down the specials on the website, but not the whole menu.
i also saw people ordering ala carte, but they did so with reference to what they had (i.e. "another stick of the xxx"), rather than off a menu.
oh well. there's always the next trip!