After eating at "Roxanne", we got in the mood for some more authentic Yoshoku (shortened from Seiyoshoku, literally Western cuisine) and therefore decided to visit the next day the Yoshokuya (Yoshoku restaurant) "Kitchen West" in business since 1962, that is a little bit before the Tokyo Olympics. It is located next to the wonderful Ramen joint "Ichiryu", so in case you'd still be a little hungry after your lunch or dinner there, you know where to go...
A quick recap for anyone not familiar with Yoshoku. This Japanese remix of so-called western cuisine is said to have appeared during the Meiji Period, when Japan opened to and started to embrace the European civilization as a mean to develop the country. Though most of the dishes are European recipes adapted to the Japanese palate and available local ingredients, some dishes like Omu-Raisu (ketchup flavored rice stuffed omelette) or Chicken Rice (not to mix up with the Hainanese Chicken Rice or the Arroz Con Pollo in Latin America) are somehow "originals".
I have been a big fan of Yoshoku since I was a kid, and everytime I think about that cuisine, I can not but help thinking with amusement about the fake plastic food samples in the displays, most notably the gravity-defying"fork and spaghetti".
The relativelay small "Kitchen West" doesn't have any of those amazing displays but on the otherhand, its dyed-blond chef and the old lady serving customers have a pretty nice menu to sample from. I actually recommend their ¥700 A Set which comprises a Soseiji, a Kisu Furai and a Hanbaagu (sausage, deep-fried sillago and Japanese-style hamburger steak) or the ¥850 B set with its Hanbaagu, Pooku Katsuletsu and Ebi Furai (hamburger, deep-fried pork cutlet and deep-fried prawn) as those combos allow you to try several of the most popular Yoshoku items in one go. Both set come with a plate of rice.
The flavorful demi-glace glaze covered hamburger steak is super tender and makes you want to order a refill for your plate of rice. God, those two combine marvelously.
The pork cutlet is a fat-free piece of fillet that is thinly breaded and goes very well with the Worcestershire-style sauce they add on top. Another killer with the rice.
The prawn is good, but not as memorable as the hamburger or the pork. I just wished the breadcrumbs were crunchier and that they did not taste so much like oil. It's actually probably better to eat the shrimp first while it's still freshly fried as it prevents it from feeling a little "tired" and humid from its own heat.
The salligo is not fishy at all, perfectly deep-fried, allowing you to enjoy the nicely cooked batter and the tender and fresh savory white meat. A Yoshoku classic that you shouldn't miss. Add some sauce on top for an added taste kick.
The sausage actually tastes like what a pork sausage should taste like, which is a good thing, as you will often be served some weird fish or mixed meat sausages that after so many years in Japan I still haven't got accustomed to.
It would be a sin if I did not hit the spotlight on the supporting role played by the spaghetti on the side, so let me allocate one or two sentences about them. They are probably boiled and then quickly sauteed with curry powder, and though it may taste and seem a little strange at first, they somehow get more and more addictive as you work on them. One other thing I like about them, and I know it's not how pastas should be, but spaghetti at Yoshokuya are often doughy and lukewarm and that's great: the perfect supporting role. Too bad they're only second-bananas in "Kitchen West" as I could actually devour a whole plate of them.
One other usual favorite is the Kani Kuriimu Korokke (Japanese-style crab flavored savory croquettes), a real calorie bomb. We ordered this one to complete our dinner though frankly you can get pretty full with the set only. Alike the deep-fried prawn, be sure to attack it while it's still burning hot as it will allow you to fully enjoy the "umami" of the savory bechamel sauce, and the brown glaze on top won't have enough time to soften up the crumbs. The crab flavor is delicate and probably less strong than the average. Beware though: it's really hot.
I recommend this place to anyone interested in Yoshoku. It's tiny and you might get out of the joint smelling like food from a mile away, but the food is cheap and good, and the service satisfactory.
Kitchen West is closed on Fridays, and open the rest of the week from noon to 21:30pm.
Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa 2-13-11
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