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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Look At That Caveman Restaurant Go

Nikunotoriko ain’t your usual restaurant.

Even by Japanese standards of weirdness, this yakiniku restaurant (grilled meat cuisine) is a cut above the rest, in that it’s not weird, so much as it’s pretty stylish… just not in the typical manner.

Even the name Nikunotoriko translates to “under the spell of meat”… 

An example of yakiniku-style grilling. Photo via Wikipedia, public domain.
Designed by Tokyo architect Iedokoro Ryoji (surname first), Nikunotoriko was themed to represent the locale of the primitive human hunter, with gatherings around a fire in a forest, or huddled in a claustrophobic cave.

The two-level restaurant, constructed in the Roppongi district of Tokyo (where I’m pretty sure I got drunk once or 47 times and went dancing… heck, Ashley and I met and hung out together in that area on our second day in Japan), offers a forest domain and a cave system, each about 65 square meters (700 square feet), and each comfortably seating 20 diners.

The lover level is the simulated cave area, with walls and ceilings molded by hand with mortar, and a large . A large mirror creates a feeling of infinity as if the cave goes on infinitely.

Within the cave is a bespoke long glass table, with chairs on each side… and I suppose this would be a wonderful place to go for offices celebrating something or another… which in my experience is at least once a month.

Be warned! Don’t try and play footsie under the table with that female secretary you’ve had your eye on since she arrived fresh out of high school last week. Well… come to think of it… it’s smoked glass… you’re in a cave discovering your inner caveman, and everyone is drunk…

Still… “dame” means “dame” (dah-may = No way!)

The table is 6.5 meters (21 feet) long, and is made of smoked, but still see-through glass… but what is most cool, however, is that under the table is a riverbed manufactured of recycled-glass gravel with the water created from over 1,000 glass tiles in a flowing pattern. So you are eating in a cave with creek flowing through it…

It’s not real, of course, so no whizzing in it… but I am curious to know if the glass tiles have been smoothed down to avoid the possibility of any drunken gaijin accidentally falling under the table.

The other floor is the forest area, which was designed to be a hillside environment with laser-cut contoured floors.

To be honest, you would have to watch your step in some areas, as the steps aren’t equidistance apart - and even more difficult to navigate should you be drunk, though fortunately that never happens at Japanese get-togethers. (heavy sarcasm).

The tables in the forest are contain a large opening in the middle, where I can only assume a fire or heating element is placed in order to grill the meat… which I’m pretty sure you don’t have to track and kill yourself, though I suppose you could, what with the concrete jungles of the city.  It may be the easiest way to move ahead in the business world.

Sorry… caveman thoughts were leaking out of my caveman brain.

Still… I’d kill for a bloody steak right about now.

Andrew Joseph
PS: Images Credit: Satoshi Umetsu, except where excepted
PPS: Do you ever wonder just how much it costs to have a restaurant like this designed and built? Considering also how quickly restaurants—should they even survive and gain popularity—fall out of favor? Consider as well that Japan—while it loves tradition and is loathe to change—also likes to be amused with the newest and greatest things.. and so, while a restaurant with such a anthropological theme as Nikunotoriko might be the latest rave place, what happens when something newer comes along?
PPPS: I’m not commenting about the cuisine, because 1) I haven’t tried it; 2) I’m sure it’s good; 3) I’m sure it’s pricey; 4) It’s still just grilled meat; 5) It’s the ambiance; 6) It’s the booze… perhaps they should have lower food prices and increase the alcohol prices… but whatever, I’m no expert in such matters.
PPPPS: Should ANYONE ever visit Nikunotoriko, please drop us a line (proverbial “us”) and describe your overall experience.
PPPPPS: Headline mostly provided by a line from the 1960 goofy great song Alley Oop, by The Hollywood Argyles. Alley Oop was a very popular newspaper comic strip that began on December 5, 1932 and is still running in newspapers today. It’s humor, adventure and science-fiction, and I’ll be honest I haven’t read it in well over 45 years. But… I bet I could write some good stuff for that strip.

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