‘Best Darn Steak in Tokyo…’

Food & Drink - June 7th, 2002
tokyoweekender_Oyster Bar

by Charles J. Waggon

“Some a them Geesha Girls, Charlie Jake, now where we go for that?”

Lester was wondering out loud, while I was won­dering to myself why it is that visiting firemen and big shots from headquar­ters go right into heat the minute they fly over the International Date Line on their way to Tokyo.

“How ’bout we go to Shee-Boo-Ya? I heard the place is crawlin’ with young hotties,” suggested Billy. Least he knows what year this is. Yup, I’ve seen ’em myself. Young girls about 18 dressing up like state­side hookers, walking up and down the street looking for tight skirts, loose socks and a warm place to shop.

Anyhow, they’re NOT looking for middle age Texans with big bellies.

Still, I had to give it to Billy. He proba­bly gets the lowdown on Tokyo from the Internet, not like Lester who got all he knows about Tokyo from some coot on a rocking chair who was here with MacArthur and old man Ridgeway right after WWII.

There was about six of us, standing at the corner of Almond and High Touch Town Roppongi, wondering what to do after our Japanese partner had graciously treated us to a meal what cost more per man than any of these guys’ monthly car payment. Since I was the Japan Hand, they were all over me about where to go for a good time.

Sure as shooting, we were prime targets for one of those guys what try to lasso you into a strip joint. And sure as day, this Nigerian fella comes up and starts sweet talking Lester and them, handing out flyers with pictures of half-naked ladies. I suppose them places are called “Gentlemen’s Clubs” since “clip joint for men who always got boobs on the brain since they were bottle fed as babies and naturally wanted mama ‘stead of some rubber thing” is too long to fit on the sign.

I avoid them places like cancer cause, maybe I’m old fashioned, but I believe there’s two things in this world what oughta be private—getting naked and sitting on the John. I ain’t no Bible banger, but I feel a woman oughta keep her clothes on in front of strangers.

The light turns green and our group mosies across the street and before I know it we’re standing in front of the place, all lit up. Should’ve called it One Eyed Trouser Snake if you ask me. I sure wasn’t going in.

“Boys, I’d love to join you, but Doc Shane tells me I gotta watch out for the ol’ ticker here, and I’m not sure I can handle all that excite­ment,” I tell them. I guess the thought of Charlie Jake getting a heart attack at the feet of some leggy 22 year old from Russia or Columbia got ’em spooked, so they excused me from the rest of their Big Night In Tokyo.

I make a clean break of them, but by that time I’d gotten a powerful hankering for a ‘burger and was ready to jump into the closest place serving beef. I didn’t walk but ten paces when I see the ghost of Alfred Hitchcock holding out a menu to me. Turned out to be one a them statues from some wax museum, but my eyes were on the page, scouting for ‘burgers.

Swank joint, no ‘burgers. But what we got here? Soon as I read “Aged New York Cut Sirloin Prime U.S. One Pound,” I was down the stairs faster than a pecan rollin’ off a hen house roof.

Perfect steamed vegetables

Welcome to Hisio Fine Dining & Charcoal Grill. I ended up going for the half-pound version of that steak, and took the other half in steamed vegetables since Doc Shane’s likely to be reading this right now. Waiter said the meat’s from Kansas City. For your steak you want that U.S. beef, while your Japanese beef is better for sukiya-ki or shabu shabu.

Crispy brown on all surfaces, like it was charcoal grilled in mid-air. Then a perfectly even pink inside all the way to the center. More than an inch thick. At ¥4,500, this masterpiece is a bargain. Turned out to be the best I ever ate in Tokyo. Ditto for the vegetables, a fine mess of them, must’ve been six kinds, all cooked perfect in beauti­ful colors. Sure liked the whole baby okra—they’re talking my language here. Plus they made me a great Martini, just the way I asked for.

A pair of Rockefellers and a pair of Hokkaidos from the Hisio Oyster Bar

Went back a few weeks later with my secretary Kumiko for a real sit-down, and found they’d put in an oyster bar. I ain’t used to eating oysters in places what don’t got pitchers of beer on the bar and sawdust on the floor. But we ordered a few anyway, two raw Hokkaido (¥550 each)—huge, fat and round like golf balls, with hardly no mantle—and two cooked Rockefeller (¥450 each)—rich, and garlicky.

Kumiko had the house-smoked duck with buckwheat crepes (¥2,200) which is like a new take on Peking Duck, served with two sauces and shoestring vegetables. I get a scallop and clam salad (¥2400) that’s got so much shellfish it’s a meal in itself. And a side of those steamed vegetables (¥800) again. Plus we both get stuffed on their fresh-baked bread, several kinds, served with little pots of anchovy butter and basil butter. Charlie Jake sez two thumbs up.

Roll the duck and vegetables in the buckwheat tortillas and you got some Tacos Hisios

Kumiko went bonkers over the wine, saying she’d never seen such a great list that also includes the really good California wines like Silver Oak, Stag’s Leap S.L.V. and Opus One. Since we’d both been on sepa­rate benders the night before, we each just had a glass of the house red (¥1,200) which turned out to be a mighty fine French Bordeaux. You get the picture.

Fusion Bldg. B1, 7-13-8 Roppongi Minato-ku, Tokyo