In Japanese they're called kobukuro (コブクロ). "Little bags," or as I prefer "baby bags." They've been calling out to me for some time, but a certain squeamishness would take hold every time I had the opportunity to order them. Last night the Ajimi team was in need of a low budget celebration, so we went to our favorite moderne retro izakaya in Kichijoji, Tecchan.
Tecchan (pronounced tay-chan) is a place that can't and shouldn't be missed. North of Kichijoji station is a small honeycomb of small covered alleys called Harmonica Yokocho. Dozens of little watering holes, noodle shops, a handful of boutiques and more fill this last reminder of the black market shanty towns that sprang up around stations throughout Tokyo in the immediate post-war years.
In the heart of Harmonica Yokocho, you will find Tecchan, a medium sized yakitori-ya, with ever-billowing smoke and an ever-full bubbling cauldron of motsu (innard stew). A funky counter snakes around the theatrical serving and preparation area. Two charcoal grills seem to never be empty as busy workers fan the flames with singed red fans. The best tsukune on the west side can be found here, in addition to mune, momo, negima, lamb, buta bara, miscellaneous innards and various vegetables.
All of this and a great selection of nihonshus and shochus. This is the place where the Ajimi team's love affair with Kumesen, a favorite awamori, began.
But back the the "baby bags." For some time, I had watched enthusiastic revelers chowing down on what looked like caducei of some unidentifiable organ meat. It intrigued me. It was finally revealed that these strange little curlicue meats were none other than pig uteri. I didn't jump immediately at the chance to scarf them down. But for some reason - maybe it was the moon, maybe my looming mortality - I decided, by way of special celebration, that it was time to partake of this delicacy.
At 100 yen a stick, a true deal. And raw, to boot! Slightly gray and of trembling flesh - not me, the kobukuro - in a pool of ponzu and sprinkled liberally with chives, they beckoned. The first bite revealed a mild meatiness, with a slight tooth and good give. They were a fine accompaniment to the tall glass of amakuchi nihonshu that we were sampling. With the enthusiasm of a new discovery, I offered a taste to the more demure member of the Ajimi team. She politely passed.
Map to and pics of Tecchan are available at http://www.good24.jp/shop/f104.html