Burying the Hatchet

November 18, 2014 frvtravel

In Tokyo there is a restaurant that serves a cut of meat known simply as the Tomahawk: a 1.6 kilogram slab of cow so huge and unruly, so vast and juicy, so overpowering in its shape, smell and presence that it is too big for just one person to eat or even describe. This is Oak Door, in Grand Hyatt Tokyo, and it’s a meat lover’s night in paradise. By Thomas Jones

Much ado is made about Japanese beef in the West without really understanding the intricacies of the raising of the meat, or indeed the fact that there is life beyond the boundaries of Kobe. The Tomahawk is not from Kobe, it is F1, a product that comes from crossing a breed of Tajima Wagyu bull (a beef breed) and a Holstein cow (a dairy breed), which, according to experts, brings together the best of animal husbandry to produce an exceptional cut of meat and an even better looking dinner.

Seeing the $400, rib-eye-on-the-bone Tomahawk in the restaurant’s meat locker in its raw form is humbling in the extreme. Named for its shape, not for its power to kill with a single stroke, though if you ate a whole one you may very well suffer one. Prudence suggests that it’s best eaten by 2 – 4 diners; or one fat man if TV shows like ‘Man versus Food’ are anything to go by. Happily there are no T-shirts or accolades to be won by doing that so in our party of three we thought it would be a cinch. We were wrong.

Click to view slideshow.

Seeing the $400, rib-eye-on-the-bone Tomahawk in the restaurant’s meat locker in its raw form is humbling in the extreme.

Unfortunately for us by the time this weapon of mass appetite destruction came out from the kitchen my dining companions and I already had already been assaulted by vast swathes of all the major food groups (see the photo immediately left); lamb, pork, chicken and assorted small goods, and copious amounts of red and white wine and ales. We were, to say the least, feeling a bit beyond capacity. But persevere and succeed we did, taking that beautiful thing down to the bone faster than a pack of polite wolves, savouring each delicious and exquisitely juicy mouthful as if it were our last. If we were still living in caves we would have fought bitterly over the bone scraps but Oak Door is a classy place so we thought better of it and instead drank more wine and ordered dessert.

As rarefied as Japanese beef’s back story and fame may be Oak Door isn’t consumed by nationalism, and in addition to all grades of superior local beef they also offer prime cuts from Australia and the USA – for let’s face it, they certainly know a few things about beef production as well – albeit much leaner. They also have a good selection of seafood including lobsters from Maine and New Zealand, scallops from Hokkaido, Tasmanian salmon and fish from across the seven seas.

And of course, there’s freshly baked bread and loads of vegetables. Not the ones made for non-meat eaters but those heavily roasted and tossed in herbs, oils and dripping, the kinds that look naked without a big slice of meat lying next to them. This is not a place for the shrinking violets of vegetarianism: this is a place where meat lovers go to thrive.

The Oak Door
Grand Hyatt Tokyo
Roppongi, Tokyo


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