Tokyo Attractions

Akihabara - The otaku freak capital of Japan!
Harajuku - Tokyo Extreme Street Style
Hon Komagome - Old Tokyo Temple Town
Morishita in Tokyo, home of metropolitan museums, and plenty of temples and old homes
Charming old Edo Period district of Nezu, in Tokyo
Roppongi and Roppongi Hills
Shibuya Streets
Ueno -- Homeless Heart of Tokyo

Rest of Japan

Jomon Japan
Jomon Japan
Kyoto, the most beautiful city in Japan
Matsumoto Castle, one of the highlights of central Japan
Yokohama City -- The City By The Bay

Best of the World

Australia Guide

Egypt in the 1990s
Iceland, North Atlantic

Mumbai City Guide



Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gaboh (Asakusa)

FINALLY, THIS WAS IT. After months of false starts, broken promises, and misguided hopes, now I had the chance to eat in a quality Japanese restaurant, and blog about it. With plenty of nice photographs, to post right here. Backdrop: after eight years of living in Japan, my parents had decided to deign me a visit, a Royal visit no less. Kind of surprising because they had never shown any interest in visiting me before, but I guess they have their reasons. Largely to nag me into leaving Japan, so I figured (and I was largely right.) They were to be in Japan for three weeks, two of which they planned to spend with me at my apartment in Shinozaki. They would rail around Japan for one week with their pass, and on either side of that, stay for two weeks with me at my pod in east Tokyo. So it was up to me to entertain them for the duration of their stay in the Eastern Capital, and take them to all the places I have come to love over the past eight years. I turned to my Asakusa contact Mrs Sasaki for help. Since she aspires to be a guide for tourists in Japan, this was a golden opportunity for her. She rose to the challenge. Deciding things to do and places to go in Asakusa was a no brainer; determining where to eat proved a little more tedious. Like many of her people, Mrs Sasaki is convinced that foreigners cannot eat real Japanese food. By real Japanese food I mean raw fish, tsukuemono pickled vegetables, and seaweed. All of these are present in abundance at Gabou, a restaurant on Kokusai Dori ("International Street"), right next to the drum museum near Tawaramachi Station. Which is why I was surprised that in the end this was the place that Mrs Sasaki made a booking at. (To be honest, my parents said they didn't care where they ate, and I told Mrs Sasaki that. She didn't seem convinced.) I was expecting Sasaki-san to book my folks into some yaki niku joint instead, something more gaijin friendly, someplace used to tourists. Some restaurant with steaks and spaghetti on the menu. But in the end, she chose to represent old school Japan. The Gaboh homepage doesn't even have an English menu, let alone an English language option on their homepage. The restaurant's name roughly translates as "Our Room" -- that is a very rough translation, but gives you an indication where they are coming from! This is old school Japanese ryouri, that is for sure!

The shopfront of Gaboh Restaurant on Kokusai Dori in Asakusa

We had originally planned to lunch at Gaboh on Friday, April 17. Unfortunately, a death in the family prevented my folks from making it to Japan until the following weekend. After weeks of looking forward to the holiday, news of the delay disappointed me profoundly. Not to be discouraged, Mrs Sasaki and I held our reservation, if only to give the restaurant a dry run before my parents arrived, to see if they could really stomach it. Interestingly, our meal coincided with the funeral held for my grandfather Herb, who passed away on the NSW Central Coast north of Sydney, at age 90. Perhaps I could feel his spirit passing, as I ate. When I turned up at Gaboh on the dark and wintry Friday noontime, I was pleased to see Mrs Sasaki's daughter Fumino sitting opposite my allotted space at the table. It had been a long time. I thanked her for all the birthday cards she had given me over the years, all of them interesting and well thought out. The food was great as expected, a real summary of Japanese cuisine (on the light tip). I reassured Mrs Sasaki that my parents would be able to stomach it, when they ever got to Tokyo. If they ever got to Tokyo! Among all the usual favorites there were some things I had never seen before (or never seen before in a traditional Japanese restaurant), such as this potato dish. Mrs Sasaki told me it was called shin jagaimo, or "New Potato". Perhaps she meant baby potatoes. They were served with some dark vegetable like matter -- perhaps gobou (burdock).

Shinjagaimo, New Potatoes, served with some kind of vegetable, possibly gobou (burdock)

A match made in heaven: raw fish, soy sauce, and wasabi. I could eat this stuff all day long!

Sashimi and soy.

A dish fit for Roland Barthes: the freshness of vegetable and shellfish encapsulated in batter (tempura.)


All capped off with a dessert to die for: ice cream, sweet potato, and a deep mug of bitter green tea.

Ice cream, sweet potato and green tea

My parents were supposed to be here, but they were delayed a week, by the death of my grandfather Herb, who passed away at the age of 90. May he rest in peace. It was a gray day in the heart of Spring, in the sometimes grey old downtown district of Tokyo. We tried to enjoy ourselves in spite of our grief, Mrs Sasaki and I (and her daughter.) There were plenty of goodies there to distract us. Everyone laughed and had a good time. There was just one thing missing, one thing not in its place:

Mum and Dad one week later at Asakusa Station, on their way to Gaboh

Six days later, they were there! It was time for Round Two!

Gaboh is at 2-1-12 West Asakusa, Taito Ward, Tokyo -- the phone number is 03 (3845) 8853. Lunch sets cost about 1500 per person.



arizona kitchen | asakusa food directory | ef gallery | gaboh | mugitoro

  • Between 2000 and 2012 I blogged the food on the streets and alleys and high end towers and 5 star restaurants of Tokyo, Japan. Search the archives below...


Japanese Food and Cooking Blogs

Blue Lotus
Blue Lotus
Pig Out Diary
Pig Out Diary
Torihei Yakitori Restaurant
Torihei -- Grilled Chicken in Asakusa