Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Walking and Eating with All Star Osaka Walk Part 2 : Wagyu at Yakiniku M

Tourists who travel to both Tokyo and Osaka will realise that when it comes to eating,  Osaka is not just a second city to Tokyo.  While Tokyo may have more 3 star Michelin restaurants, I am fonder
of the casual, laid back and dare I say it -- "proletarian" food and atmosphere that you can find in Osaka.
After enjoying our introduction to osechi ryori at Tsuruhashi Market (see previous post) we set off
with Minako san on the next half of our walking and eating tour.

This is Ebisubashi, one of the most famous shopping places that you can find in Osaka.  Together with Shinsaibashi, which it connects to, this covered arcade is lined with shops, boutiques, restaurants and stretches nearly 2 kilometres long.

Foodies (I hate that word) know that the longer the line, the better the food.   My inner hog is tempted to stop and join the queue but I have to move on.

We leave Ebisubashi and walk over one of the many bridges that cross Dotonbori canal.

The main event for today is a wagyu lunch.  A short walk from the bridge is Yakiniku M, a very popular restaurant in a side street off Dotonbori that had quite a line when we got there. If you are intimidated by the price of wagyu, you will be pleasantly surprised (as I was) that Yakiniku M has
reasonably priced wagyu set courses.

Yakiniku M serves Matsusaka beef or matsusakagyu.   Kobe beef may sound more familiar but matsusakagyu is just as respected and held in high esteem.  Some Japanese gourmets even  call it 
the best wagyu.   The beef  comes from Japanese black cows raised in Matsuzaka in Mie Prefecture 
in the Kansai region.  

The waitress leads us up a narrow staircase to the second floor where diners can eat in their own private rooms.  Surprisingly, Yakiniku M is not a big restaurant, there are some tables on the 
ground floor and just a few rooms on the second floor.  This explains why there are lines 
during lunchtime and why reservations are absolutely essential.

We stayed in a dropped floor dining area good for 6 people but for bigger groups, there are "connecting" rooms where you can open the sliding screens.

We were first given bowls of warm soup which looked insipid and cloudy, reminding me of 
dishwater.  My first sip dispelled all fears --  it tasted of the deep umami essence of beef bones, 
boiled and simmered for hours.

Our matsusakagyu was presented to us on a tray with the different cuts conveniently identified.  There was rib eye, lean beef or sirloin and of course the fatty marbled cut that distinguishes wagyu from other types of beef and makes it particularly prized.

Two small globs of beef fat or suet are on the table.   I hear faint cries -- but it's just my arteries,  screaming in horror.

We put the beef fat on the hot grill and it melts into what I am sure is a delicious-high-cholesterol- artery-clogging oil that will cook our matsusakayagyu.

I start off with slices of rib eye.  It doesn't take too long to cook the meat -- just a few seconds 
of fragrant, mouthwatering sizzling and it's good to eat.  
My first bite dissolves like butter on my tongue.  A thousand voices burst into the Hallelujah 
chorus in my mouth -- effectively drowning out the shrieks and wails from my ventricles.  
What can I say -- tongue beats out brain and heart every single time!

We are given kimchi and a cabbage slaw but today, at this very moment frozen in time and 
saturated fat,  vegetables  are nothing but a distraction.   
I just want to indulge in the melt-in-your mouth goodness of wagyu.  It is truly tokubetsu na (special). 

Sadly, all good things must come to an end.  After that remarkable lunch,  we say good bye,   
the taste of wagyu lingering  in our tastebuds.  I would gladly "kuidaore"  at Yakiniku M any time ... eating myself to ruin (and bankruptcy) with matsusakagyu,  the best beef  in Japan!


For those who want to share the taste of wagyu with their four-legged best friends, 
Yakiniku M sells homemade dog treats made from ... yes, scraps and ends of real Japanese beef.    Aptly called "Slow Dog"  these gourmet treats are packed in colourful take out boxes and contain three kinds of dog treats -- beef jerky,  beef cookies and vege bone sticks.   It's 1,500 yen for each pack and I take a couple home to my labradors,  Nero and Travis.

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