Yakiniku Kotatsu (焼肉 虎龍), Osaka, Japan
Earlier on in the trip, the boys and I had a serious craving for beef and luckily stumbled across this glamorous yakiniku (grill) restaurant called Kotatsu. The girls went back to the awesome tempura place from the first night, but I was determined to get some beef.
The interior is as sophisticated and sleek as the building’s facade, and I later learn (thanks to the trusty Google translator), that the restaurant buys the finest Japanese beef whole, by the head. This allows their menu to feature a wide variety of dishes from classic grilled meats to rare offal cuts that they claim to even satisfy connoisseurs.
As there is no English menu, we take our chances and and opt for one of the banquet courses, 龍コース, the “long course” which is 4800円 per person (about AU$58.60).
I’m a little anxious when I see that the first course is an assorted sashimi of three beef organs. The chef uses his own body as a diagram when we ask him what each item is. There’s liver, lung and tripe (sanmai, third stomach). Who knew you could eat these raw?
Expecting it to taste awful, I pick up a slice of liver and throw it down my throat, only chewing the slightest amount.
You know what… It looks freaky, but all three actually taste pretty amazing! The delicious marinades and sauces definitely hide the gross factor.
The liver is like a crisp jelly, slightly milky and sweet with a clean aftertaste. The lung is deep red in colour and is probably the hardest to swallow as there is a slight chew, but it isn’t unpleasant. The sanmai is an ugly grey and white; crunchy in texture and actually reminds me of its cooked version.
Next course is much easier to handle – a simple but addictive cabbage salad.
Some assorted pickled vegetables, kimchi and sesame leaves are next, served with three different cuts of beef (forgot what they were!). We are guided to DIY, grilling the meats, topping it with the garlic and oil mixture and wrapping them within the sesame leaves as hand rolls before dipping into a selection of sauces. Delicious!
Then we have skewers of seasonal vegetables – onion, potato, pumpkin and capsicum – and a plate of four offal cuts, all for the grill. Most are unrecognisable but I spot the horumon which is the small intestine. These diced tubular cuts are chewy and plump and satisfying in the same way I’d enjoy duck fat.
Second last course is a choice between cold noodles or bibimbap – we all go for the cold noodles as a refresher.
And finish off the only way we know how in Japan, with matcha ice cream.