It took me three phone calls to get a table at Imanas Tei. In the first two calls, I was told that we could only reserve seats on a central community table, which I am familiar with from many walk-in experiences, but was calling three weeks ahead specifically to avoid. On the second call, I became a little frustrated & was a little snappy, for which I am sorry, but I think I was PMSing. The third call was basically just for kicks & it took the reservationist a few repeats to get me to believe I had actually gotten a table.
Normally I do not call a restaurant three times to ask for the same date, same time. I’m not sure what I was thinking. But… it worked, huh?
Imanas Tei has been around for several years & it is always hard to get a table. When they first opened, my ex & I went there for hamachi kama & to see his friend Manabu. Now, I smile vaguely at Manabu, who doesn’t remember me, & invite friends there to try the chanko nabe. It’s not shabu shabu, but unlike me, my friends seem to like variety. One makes concessions.
I ordered mozuku again, among other things. It was very good, although I left my heart at Hakone. Lisa tried it, & said she could eat that stuff all day. She ended up ordering Ika Natto, which looked really good.
However, shortly afterward the chanko nabe arrived.
Ono Kine Grindz has a really good description of Imanas Tei’s chanko nabe, so I won’t go into too much detail. The aroma of the broth reminded me of Tokyo-Tokyo, & was indeed a little sweet for my taste, although still very delicious.
This plate of nabe ingredients is two orders of chanko nabe. Two orders are sufficient for a party of four, & ridiculous for two people to attempt, although Staci says that we once, some time ago, did very well between the two of us. I don’t know; I find it hard to imagine now.
Staci, Lisa & Ernie didn’t readily believe me when I said that our server would be taking care of the cooking; I think we’re all too well trained from shabu shabu outings. However, we watched in awe as mouth-watering ingredients were methodically & artfully added to the boiling pot.
At left our server is scooping minced pork out of a bamboo mold; these scoopings cook into yummy little meatballs that Lisa likened to the inside of a pork hash. Everything was added in an order that made sense. It smelled gorgeous. It was torture.
In the end, everything fit into the pot… just barely. We were worried about it boiling over, & stood at attention ready to relieve the pot of some of its burden immediately should the need arise. Ernie took the lead & mixed the pot just a little, & then we dug in.
I think it was my parents who first told me about chanko nabe. Tonight was actually the first time I heard it was “sumo food,” although chances are I was told before but wasn’t listening. All I know is I am in love with the little slices of mochi. Not sure if I prefer them to the manly slabs at Hakone, though.
We were gratified to discover an attractively handled mesh skimmer, although the nabe hardly called for it. In shabu shabu, cooking beef slices creates surface scum, but there wasn’t much in this nabe. So Staci didn’t have much work to do. Oh well.
We questioned one of the servers about the mesh skimmer (Staci wished to purchase it.), who explained it was purchased as part of a set. We’re going to have to go hunt this item down now, since good old Iida’s is gone from Ala Moana Shopping Center. Lisa suggested the Dillingham Marukai store. Sounds like a great trip even if no mesh skimmers are ultimately to be had.
Our tab came out to $79.06. That’s right, 80 bucks. It seemed almost wrong for dinner for four, but I’m not complaining. I just wish more restaurants would serve Dave’s green tea ice cream. The Bubbies version is ok, but Dave’s is awesome. I’m sure servers won’t like me for saying that because Dave’s version is damn hard to scoop. You could probably kill a man with a scoop of Dave’s green tea ice cream; it’s that hard. But so good.
This is starting to sound inappropriate.