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Browsing Posts tagged yakiniku

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Phew. Wedding week is finally over. Last week I had 3 (pairs of) friends get married/have wedding parties, meaning that in a 7-day period I had a total of 2 receptions, 3 after parties, and 2 after-after parties to attend. It was a busy and expensive week. On top of that, Ari, Seth, and NR7000 were in town so there was the 2010 A-Team reunion to add to the Earth-shattering awesome festivities.

Monday was a holiday here in Japan, so Yuri and Sho-chan had their wedding party down in Kamakura. I hadn’t been out there in probably a few years and the weather was really nice. The wedding reception was super close to the shrine where the ceremony was performed, and it was a huge formal reception afterwards. Blanchard and I sang the Kishidan wedding song which was embarrassing to say the least, especially considering that the families of the bride and groom were also there. At least we uhh… practiced a lot for that. Ha, ha. The pressure and shame were short lived though, since the third and final karaoke song performed at the reception was by the bride and groom, meaning by the time they finished everyone had hopefully forgotten about the two off-key gaijin who sang earlier.

On Wednesday Seth somehow overcame his broken leg, broken cell phone, and broken computer and arrived in Japan.  Oops!  Met up with him in Tsudanuma and I grabbed some food at Jonathan’s while Seth sat around shocked that the restaurant was 99% chicks.  Then headed into the city to meet up with Bryan and Brian for some yakiniku tabehodai.  Thursday Nick came up via shinkansen, and we went to a creepy maid cafe in Akihabara.  They’ve got a stamp card system, with the top tier “Black Card” requiring over 2000 visits.  That is not a typo.  Two.  Thousand.  According to our maid, there are about 6 or 7 potential serial killers with multiple mental disorders who have this card.  Be very afraid.  After having enough of our souls depleted at the cafe, we headed up to Namja Town for some gyoza and ice cream, followed by Lockup 2999.  Lockup had some kind of campaign for March where you get half of your bill back as coupons.  It’s actually a pretty decent incentive to come back.

Friday was the main event, Y’s.  In the daytime we hit up Saize in Makuhari and Seth made our way to IES and Kanda.  Shin-san wasn’t at IES, but we talked to Kudo-san and got to see some of the new kids.  Vest!  Crashed Hosoi-sensei’s office and caught up on old times with her.  I’m pretty sure she remember every single detail about everything ever, since she even remember Seth’s girlfriend at the time, IUSTV, and that the Musashino line was late every day.  We met up with her again later before Y’s with Bryan, and Mikey was super late for that.  Couldn’t have been a better entrance.  Hosoi-sensei knows how awesome the A-Team is.  Y’s, even without the usual counter, was epic.  Ari showed up direct from Narita and it was just like old times.  We’ve been doing this for almost 6 years!  Thanks to all the fans and supporters who came to celebrate with the A-Team at the 2010 Reunion.2010 A-Team ReunionBryan and Saori’s wedding reception and after parties were probably the highlights of wedding week, since everyone was there and also because I’ve known Bryan the longest.  It was pretty awesome, especially when the picture slideshow had so many A-Team shots.  I gave a speech which ended up being a little shorter than I had planned, but I think it was fine.  We made some new friends with (well actually just probably creeped out) Saori’s friends, ate some good food, and celebrated something that really made me feel old.  Also at the second party and karaoke there was a kid who smelled like wet garbage.

After not going to bed until about 8:30AM on Sunday, I had to get up for Isoroku’s wedding after party that night.  It was also pretty sweet, in a fancy lounge in Roppongi near the Ritz Carlton.  I was worried that I wouldn’t know anyone there, but luckily there were some Kanda people I’d met years ago and from there I was able to mingle and such.  Isoroku also gave out some pretty classy party gifts.  I have no idea what I’m going to do with Ultraman Tenga.



I’m going to postpone writing anything about the AEON interview, Chicago pizza, traffic jams, or anything, because there is something much more important and relevant to discuss. Right now I am in pain. My stomach hurts, I feel like I can’t move, and there is a burn blister inside of my mouth. And I could not be any happier. You may recall (or have even been to) a nice little place in Japan called “Top Run Yakiniku Viking,” a sweet Korean BBQ all-you-can-eat restaurant that was like 1500 yen (around $15 bucks). The A-Team became regulars there, among the busloads of Chinese tourists. It truly was one of the hot spots to eat a ridiculous amount of food for a relatively cheap price. It was so good that in my farewell speech on the Spring/Summer IES Sayonara Party video, I made reference to it. Yes, it was that good, and you could eat a lot of meat.

Flash forward to modern day. That is, around 8PM this evening after Mitsuwa closed up here in Chicago (well, a suburb of it). Me and Bryan were shopping there at Mitsuwa, looking around, cursing the many prominent images of Pe Yonjun, making up stories to go along with the Boss Coffee cans, missing boots and skirts, and making fun of the cloudy liquor labeled “Jizake.” Afterwards, we decided to drive down the nearby Gulf Road because Bryan knew of some Japanese and Korean restaurants. About 70% of these Korean places actually ended up being either hair salons or acupuncturists, but we finally drove into one plaza and spotted a restaurant called Shin Jung. Boring sounding name, right? However, there was a large yet subtle sign on the window that immediately drew our attention, so much that it was able to actually get us to stop and enter the facilities. It was those golden words that we had dreamed of, but did not actually expect to see. Those simple words that can draw true carnivore to a screeching halt. That’s right… BBQ BUFFET. And only 19.95!?!?!?! Oh my god I didn’t know such treasures were available here in Chicago.

There was also more explanation inside, as illustrated here:

So me and Bryan walk in, and it’s like heaven. The tables all have the fancy grill in the middle (an actual Korean one, not just the grate that most places in Japan had), and of course the giant hood above the tables to suck up the exhaust from the delicious cooking meat. And the actual buffet? Yes, like Top Run, it had a buffet of raw meat (and side dishes like potato salad). However, since we ARE in America, the slices of meat were actually a lot bigger. Yes, it was amazing.
Heaven on Earth

I could probably write for hours about the intricacies of Yakiniku, and of Shin Jung. However, for time’s sake (and because I’m in a hotel for the night with horrible wireless), I will not elaborate completely on the adventures. Awesome story, however, was when Bryan and I were up at the buffet getting more raw meat to grill, we were looking over at the sushi area (only Cali rolls, but they were really good), and I think the owner of the restaurant, this old Korean lady, thought we were confused. She came up and asked if we needed anything, and then if this was our first time here. It was, so we told her that, and she completely shifted into Professor Bulgogi and gave us a tutorial on how to cook and eat the perfect Yakiniku (Korean BBQ/Bulgogi, in English and Korean, respectively). Apparently we’ve been doing it wrong (or just the Japanese way) by cooking each piece individually on the grill. The way the owner lady showed us was much more similar to Derek’s “mountain of meat” technique. You throw a huge pile of meat onto the grill, and keep moving it around with the metal tongs. This gives you piles of meat (kind of like on top of gyuudon) rather than just individual slices. Then you take your cooked BBQ meat, and place it inside a piece of lettuce. Inside this lettuce you can also put your own mix and match variety of chili paste, green onions, grilled garlic, and sesame oil. The owner lady actually showed us how to do this at our table, and even cooked out meat for us, wrapped a lettuce piece full of meat for each of us, and made sure that we got the gist of it. We officially got the doctorate tutorial on Bulgogi, and it was awesome. And delicious. The owner lady also got one of the other workers to come over with tongs and a pair of scissors to slice up some calbi ribs (prime rib), which ended up being some of the best meat in the whole place.

<img src="/blog/shinjung3.jpg" alt="
Bryan + Yakiniku = a happy man” align=”right”>Comparing Shin Jung to Top Run, I really would have to say that Shin Jung takes the cake. It was only $20 (not including tip or beers, which were ridiculously expensive), had bigger pieces, of meat, better grills, and the service was a lot better. I mean, COME ON! The owner of the lady came over and cooked at our table for us! The only area that Top Run wins in I think is desserts, since we searched high and low at Shin Jung and found no ice cream or waffle maker. Oh god I love waffles.

Brian and I each had 2 huge plates of food, not even including the ridiculous amounts of lettuce and assorted side dishes we also ate. I think this might prove a theorem: whenever 2 or more A-Team members get together, greatness will occur. Everyone, next time you’re in Chicago, go to Shin Jung and experience this for yourself. You will not be disappointed, unless you don’t eat meat, in which was what is wrong with you? This was awesome. I’ll bet it could convert some vegetarians even.

I’m going to check out Mitsuwa in the morning and head back to Indiana in the afternoon. Yay for another boring ride through Indiana countryside. I’ll write more tomorrow or in a few days about what else I did in Chicago. The AEON interview went well; I should find out within 3 weeks. I think I did really well, but of course I don’t like to count my chickens before they hatch and terrorize the village.

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I put up new pictures last night. Spent yesterday at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. Did you know they made a 14 minute short movie about the Cat Bus from Totoro? Like a special episode or something. Got to see a baby Catbus, the whole family (including a CatTrain), and the old grandpa Catbus who was like a space shuttle. Awesome.

Ate Yakiniku for dinner. Mii’s mom took us all out. Oh man I must have eaten half a cow. I might write more about yesterday, but right now I have to get going to SALC to start ediitng. I’m late the the time I reserved the editing room; hopefully I can still use it some this morning.


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Well my today seemed like a really busy day, but in actuality, it was not. Woke up around 7 or 8, got ready to head out to Kanda U campus. Oh but today is Wednesday, and there is no class. So what did I get to go out there for? A TEST. Yep. Kanji Placement Test, so that I can take a kanji elective class. Note: For those who don’t study Japanese, kanji = “Chinese characters.” Japanese uses these characters in addition to their two phonetic writing systems. Mainly for names, verbs, nouns, and pretty much anything. There are something like 2000000000 kanji. (OK not really, but there might as well be).

Finally got to campus, after riding 20 minutes of trains and walking about 20 minutes in mind-blistering heat and humidity. Get to building #2 and who is there to greet us students? Why it’s Ichikawa! But we heard through the rumor mill last night that he was fired. And yes, we got an e-mail this afternoon confirming he is no longer with IES. What was he doing at Kanda today? None of us know. Maybe he doesn’t want to admit that he’s been canned. Or he’s going crazy…

On to the test. There were 4 levels. Once you take the first, you can move on to the next. First exam was easy. Second was kind of tough, but I think I did OK. Got the third one…. it seriously looked like Chinese to me (written entirely in kanji, and I had no idea what it said). I flipped through it, gave it back to the proctor with a “akiramemasu” (I give up), and left. That was that. I’ll probably be in Kanji level 2 or 3. Fine with me, I need to learn this stuff.

After the kanji massacre, bummed at the IES Center for about 3 or 4 hours. Nothing like wasting time with everyone there. Finally got a group together to go to Tokyo. It was me, Derek, Seth, Dan, Bryan, Adam, and Mii. Met up with Yuuji, Ari, Mike, Annie, and Merry along the way. We went to Ikebukuro for a Yakiniku Tabehoudai, which means All-you-can-eat Korean BBQ. Man it was good. About 2400 yen for 2 hours of all the food you want. You get plates of raw meat, vegetables, etc, and cook it on your table (has a little gas grill built in). I was so full.

Wandered about Ikebukuro for a while afterwards, nothing really going on. Came back home, and now I have to write another fun 600 character report for tomorrow morning’s class. Plus at 4PM tomorrow in Tokyo I have my “interview” at the high school where my field placement is at. I’ll be helping the English teacher there I believe. I don’t really need an interview as I already have the position, but I guess it’s just procedure. Time to get writing this report…

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