Nov 27, 2016
Tell a local in Japan that you're going somewhere for a trip and there's the best chance that the first thing they'll say is you must try the insert regional food here. They really know the geography of their food. A part of this is probably because it's rammed down their throats by every prefecture, city, and hamlet across the country, desperate to establish an identity, either through food or some kind of anime style character.
So it is that when I went to Sendai recently, had I not tried a serving of gyūtan, I might well have hurt someone's feelings.
Gyūtan; lit. beef tongue, the idea for the grilling and eating of which, is apparently claimed by Sendai, at least as far as Japan is concerned.
Our gyūtan was the focus of a lunch set for around 1,600 yen. The name of the restaurant I can't recall. A shame really, as this was a fine lunch set; simple, tasty, and well balanced. In traditional 'Sendai style', four cuts of gyūtan are served with rice, soup, and a pretty substantial amount of pickles (as far as servings of pickles usually go). The tongue itself is served with a slice of lemon and a sprig of parsley. You grill it at the table yourself. Four cuts might sound a poor return for 1,600 yen. I've no idea. To date, this was my first and last gyūtan lunch set in Sendai. As I said though, it was really good. High quality grilled beef in Japan is usually half grease (like Kobe beef), and leaves me largely disappointed (and slight sickly). This being tongue though, we can expect things to be more lean.
If you're after a fancy bit of beef, this is a solid way to go.