Fresh crab feast buffet style
By Derrick on 16 Apr 2018
If you are in Tokyo and are looking to experience an incredible crab feast like no other, you may wish to visit a Sakaiminato crab specialty restaurant. This group of restaurants specializes in seafood barbeque all-you-can-eat. Diners can start by helping themselves to a buffet of ready-made dishes while feasting to their hearts’ content on an unlimited supply of huge, fresh crabs. Let me, on behalf of loveinnjapan, give you our recommendation.
I visited the main branch of the Sakaiminato crab specialty restaurants, Gottsuo (formerly known as Izumo Kanigoen). Located in Ginza, the restaurant is on the 8th floor of the EXITMELSA building. Upon entering the restaurant, one will find a warm, neighborly atmosphere. The rustic interior is decorated in a seaside fishing harbor theme, adorned with large ukiyo-e (Japanese woodblock prints), traditional Japanese fisherman flags and a huge model crab in the corner. These elements all come together to make a “Home of the Sea” in the middle of the metropolis. With lively music playing in the background, diners gather together, drinking merrily while grilling seafood. The factor which gives Sakaiminato its popularity, however, is the freshness of the ingredients. Achieving this level of freshness is no easy feat. Their crabs are mainly brought in fresh directly from Tottori harbor, through a dedicated network of fishermen and a specialized distribution chain. These daily direct-from-harbor shipments guarantee the freshness of their sea products. Here at the Sakaiminato crab specialty restaurant, customers do all the grilling themselves. However, first-timers need not fear, as the menu includes a wealth of information on how to use the utensils, to cooking instructions, all described with concrete examples and great attention to detail. While regular customers will be able to handle the grilling with ease, those new to the experience might need some help from the servers. One must note, however, that the servers here are usually busy taking orders, serving tables, and attending to a large number of diners. They are happy to give a pointer or two to less-experienced diners, but they will not be able to devote a lot of attention to every customer. Thus, some self-reliance is necessary!
Every customer at this restaurant will be amazed by the size and quantity of the crabs. Crabs are the “must-eat” signature dish here. You will see that the soft crab meat rivals that of the crabs’ carapaces in size. The crabs are simply too large and need to be cut into quarters to facilitate cooking and consumption. One advantage of doing the cooking yourself is that one can witness close-up the slow beginning of the eating experience. Watch as the meat shrinks slightly as it heats up and begins to cook, as the juices exude from the shells, and listen to the bubbling sounds with which the juices evaporate. Gaze at the soft and elastic crab meat as the trembles slightly with the steam. As the seductive scents waft out slowly from the grill, one will be overcome by the sight and by how delicious everything looks. One would become unable to resist the urge to pull out one’s smartphone and to spread the food envy. The silent anticipation seems to make the final tasting experience all the more moving. The natural, fresh flavors do not require heavy seasoning. By simply tasting the freshly-grilled food, one is able to fully enjoy the best flavors that nature can provide to humanity. Both the processes of grilling and eating are wonderful experiences. The feast of crabs that I experienced here is most probably the best that I have ever had. Here, you will be introduced to a different way of consuming crab, one which you might never have imagined. The crab’s limbs, body, and top shell are to be grilled separately, with the top shell to be grilled last. When the time comes to grill the top shell, the servers will bring each customer a small bowl of rice. Using the shell as a bowl, the rice is placed into the shell and mixed with the crab roe and the juices from the crab. The mixture is then grilled, and within minutes, the fragrance of this “crab rice” will permeate the surroundings. In addition, the Japanese may also use the shell as a sake (Japanese rice wine) cup. I had the opportunity to try this “crab shell sake”. I asked the server for a flask of Japanese sake, which I poured into the top shell while it was still on the grill. After heating it up slightly for a few dozen seconds, it was ready to be consumed. The taste of “crab shell sake” is truly one-of-a-kind!
Aside from the grill, the buffet spread at Sakaiminato is a collection of delectable dishes that cannot be missed. The spread consists mainly of ready-to-eat dishes, allowing one to feast on delicious food without having to lift a finger. It can be called the “lazy person’s buffet bar of delicacies”. The spread includes a number of dishes which I would like to especially recommend, the first of which is my favorite, clam miso soup.
The clam miso soup served here is packed with clams. The flavor of the clams intermingles perfectly with the sweetness of the miso soup. It is so appetizing, I can down a few bowls in an instant. Another notable dish is the chawanmushi (Japanese steamed egg custard). The delicately tender egg custard is topped with a large piece of crab meat and drizzled with seafood juices. It should be noted that the chawanmushi is in high demand, and is often snatched up by diners almost as soon as it is replenished.
We reached the time limit of two hours for the all-you-can-eat dining before my friends and I could satisfy our cravings. The time seemed to fly right by. However, we have already made plans for our next visit, where we will attempt to beat the buffet. If you, too, are a fan of seafood, this restaurant cannot be missed!
Address: EXITMELSA 8F 5-7-10 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo.
Phone number: 03-6264-5011
Business hours: Monday – Sunday, Public holiday : 11:00 - 15:00; 17:00 - 23:00
Derrick has live in Japan for nearly five years. He is an ideal person to ask where to eat and where to visit in Japan based on his experience. He always likes to go to some places where not many people will go, because he believes that only the place he can find and understand the essence of Japan culture. He is also obsessed with looking for amazing food in all over Japan, and definitely, he can get you the best food experience by following his lead.