When I visited Nakano for my blog in 2014 I stumbled upon a little Australian bar and cafe called Meatoco (Facebook page here).
I went in and had a beer that night with good friend Mikey who lives in the area. I met Yasuhito the owner (who is a very friendly nice guy) and he told me that he had studied at university in Melbourne, Australia in the late 90's. He developed a love of Australia and a number of years later decided to open Meatoco. He has a selection of Australian beers such as Coopers, Carlton Draught, XXXX (no, don't get excited, it is the name of an Australian beer.....), VB and Fosters and a few Australian wines. He also said that on the 29th of each month he serves up various, hard to find meats such as crocodile, ostrich and kangaroo. A lot of people ask about the significance of the 29th. Well in Japanese the number 2 is pronounce ni and the number 9 is kyu. Putting them together sounds a lot like the Japanese word for meat, nikku! Now I have tried crocodile and ostrich before, but as an Australian I was particularly excited about kangaroo as I do like myself some kangaroo from time to time. I mentioned the Meatoco to a few friends and pretty soon we had banded together a group of 6 who were interested. Myself, Tetsuya, Atra, Ken, Tom and Norico. None of the others had tried kangaroo before and were all very interested.
We met at Nakano station (north exit) and weaved our way through the back alleys of Nakano before arriving at our destination. We had, however, neglected to make a reservation and upon arriving we found the place full (when coming to Meatoco on the 29th I highly recommend making a booking.....). Rather than turning us away, Yasuhito set up a table and some chairs outside in the alley and pretty soon we were sitting down Al Fresco style enjoying our first beers.
Soon our first Aussie delicacy arrived, Vegemite.
For those who have not had the pleasure of eating Vegemite, do not let it's similarity to chocolate fool you (many others have famously made this mistake in the past with hilarious consequences). Australian kids grow up on Vegemite, eating it spread on toast for breakfast or having Vegemite sandwiches for an easy after-school snack. We were enjoying it with cabbage and crackers.
Next up was some lightly seared ostrich.
This meat had a very neutral flavour to it with the texture typical of a good lean meat. The next dish that came out was some crocodile tail done tempura style. I almost forgot to take a photo we were all so keen to eat, but I did get a shot of the last piece!
The flavour and texture of this one was all chicken! Very similar! The capsicum (peppers) gave it a nice crisp, clean contrast. The next dish was also crocodile, but this one was crocodile tongue.
Everyone was completely surprised by this dish. It had a completely different taste to the crocodile tail. This one had a subtle fish taste to it and the texture was a lot more tender than we expected it to be. Very nice though! Next was what we had all been waiting for. The kangaroo arrived!
For those who have not had the pleasure of eating kangaroo, it is a very lean, healthy meat. The taste is a combination of beef and lamb. The pepper and the garlic shoots in this dish complimented the kangaroo very well. Amazing!
Pretty soon our time at Meatoco had come to an end. We thanked Yasuhito for his kind and generous hospitality and left, with everyone keen to return again in the future.
So, if you are ever in the Nakano area, wandering the back alleys as I love to do, keep an eye out for the Australian flag.
Drop in and say G'day to Yasuhito. I recommend the Coopers Sparkling Ale!
Our night was not over, however, as we made our way around the corner to the nearest karaoke bar. Walking inside we found one guy who had sung himself to sleep.....
As I mad my way to our karaoke booth, I had no idea of the mayhem that was going on behind me.....
Thank you to Atra for these photos. And if the lovely gentleman who was sleeping happens to see these photos........sorry!
Eventually we were all together again and spent a nice couple of hours doing that most Japanese of activities, karaoke!
Way too much fun!!
And that rounded off a very enjoyable evening. Everyone agreed that the kangaroo and the hospitality shown by Yasuhito at Meatoco were the highlights of the night. Plans are already being made to go along to another meaty 29th day of the month. How about you?
You may have noticed that I neglected to mention how Vegemite tastes. That was intentional. I would love for you to try it for yourself. Just remember, moderation!! No matter how much it looks like chocolate, it isn't!!
That's it for another post. Thanks again for reading. Please leave a comment below, sign up to receive email updates when I post and if you know anyone who would enjoy reading, feel free to share the blog.
See you next time!