A new sushi shop has recently opened in a fashionable back alley of Ebisu, but don’t go expecting choice cuts of fatty tuna. Kato Meat Sushi caters exclusively to carnivores, with platters of horse meat, chicken, beef and pork, with much of it being served raw.
Raw horse meat, you say? It’s long been considered a delicacy in Japan and the concept of serving it as sashimi (basashi, or sakuraniku) has been around for awhile. It’s not too unusual to find at izakaya, especially the ones that specialize in regional cuisine. At Kato Meat Sushi, however, it’s the star of the menu. Customers can choose the grade of raw horse, just as if they would with tuna: lean, medium or fatty. The more fatty the meat, the higher the price: It’s ¥160 for a couple of pieces of lean, while medium fatty costs ¥280.
The beef on the menu is premium Japanese beef (wagyu), which is also often enjoyed raw, though usually not served as sushi. Unluckily for the owners, the store opened just as reports of a foot and mouth outbreak in Miyazaki were hitting the front pages, meaning that the ongoing cattle cull could make this item harder to come by.
Japanese consumption of meat has been on the rise for decades and while veggie restaurants have been taking off recently, plenty of restauranteurs are still appealing to the nation’s more carnivorous nature. Last year we saw the opening of a theme park dedicated to meat in Tokyo. Visitors to Meatrea can indulge their predilection for animal flesh in all manner of unusual forms, perhaps the most bizarre of which is a tonkatsu (pork cutlet) parfait. Those looking for more extreme sweet meat, there is raw horse meat ice cream (basashi ice) made by Ice Tengoku, which specializes in novelty ice cream flavors.
If this sort of fare whets your appetite, check out Time Out Tokyo’s guide to restaurants that serve raw meat. For those who are leery of consuming meat raw, you’ll be happy to hear that Spam sushi is also enjoyed in Japan. Personally, though, I’d rather chow down on raw horse meat, which has a sweet and succulent taste that beats the processed tinned taste of Spam any day.
Horse meat photo by shrk