Strange Meats

Last Wednesday my family and I returned to Austin from our (so far) annual trip to Japan to see Ryoko’s family. Since Ryoko’s mother passed away last year, this year is one of the important anniversaries of her death where a special memorial service needs to be held. So we went to Ryoko’s home for two weeks to attend the ceremony and then to spend some time with her family.

The afternoon after the ceremony (held in the morning), all of Ryoko’s family was gathered together and chatting, and the subject turned to exotic foods. When asked for my two cents, I said that I’m always willing to try something at least once, and that I like new culinary experiences. Then Ryoko’s cousin Akihiro chimed in: “I know a place not far from here where you can eat deer meat and wild boar! I’ll take you there this evening!

So that’s how I ended up going here to eat:
wild boar restaurant!
That’s Ryoko’s father and older sister about to go inside. It’s a tiny little place that I can most easily describe as ‘seedy’. The outside looks a little run-down, and inside a little more so. Here’s the front of the restaurant:
front sign
Basically the large white sign says, “All natural: Wild boar stew, game fowl dishes, wild deer dishes.”
I didn’t bother taking any pictures of the interior of the restaurant, but it isn’t hard to describe: low light and dingy, old faded posters of actresses and Enka (basically, Japanese country music) stars. There was even a calendar with a nude woman on it hanging on the wall. (I took it down, rolled it up and set it behind the old dusty karaoke machine when the cook was back in the kitchen. He never noticed.)

The first dish was some wild fowl fried with some onions. I didn’t even take a picture of it because at the time I didn’t realize it was anything but ordinary chicken. Neither the taste nor texture disabused me of that notion. It was pretty good though.

The second dish was grilled deer meat with onions:
deer meat
It had a slightly gamy flavor to it, but it was pretty heavily salted and peppered so it didn’t stand out much. It wasn’t very tough, and I thought it was quite tasty!

The third dish was none other than roasted wild boar with salad:
wild boar!!!!!
This meat was really, really tough. It was hard to chew, and there was tons of fat on every cut. The flavor wasn’t too bad though. Sort of a cross between pork and something really really gamy. I don’t mind gamy flavor so once I could chew it until it was soft enough I had no trouble eating it, but someone without a high tolerance for gamy tastes might have trouble getting it down.

Overall it wasn’t too bad, but the atmosphere definitely left a lot to be desired.

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3 Responses to Strange Meats

  1. Muninn says:

    I am reminded of the chapter on wild game food in the “Omnivore’s dilemma” – to see it served thus in Japan is interesting.

  2. Spencer says:

    How did it compare to the sashimi grade horse meat?

  3. admin says:

    Well, I’ve had both horse and beef sashimi, and they were much higher quality cuts than what I had at this restaurant. The horse sashimi was at a high-class resort hotel, and everything there, including the raw horse, was exquisite. The raw beef sashimi I had at someone’s house, but it was expensive veal and was also very excellent (it was more like eating really rare steak).

    The deer and wild boar though, were wild animals that someone had hunted, and then sold the meat to this little restaurant. Not quite the same quality standards, and as you would expect the meat was a lot tougher (especially the wild boar).

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