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Shibamatsu in Tokyo

Do you know CHANKO, a Sumo wrestler's traditional dish?

As you know, sumo is a traditional Japanese sport and one of the global representatives of Japanese culture. For sumo wrestlers, eating is one of their important jobs in order to be healthy, big and strong while training. Do you know what kind of food sumo wrestlers traditionally eat? It is a dish called Chankonabe; a well-balanced one-pot dish that includes vegetables, tofu and meat or fish in some soup broth. Basically, Sumo wrestlers live at a sumo stable (heya in Japanese) together and they cook their meals by themselves in rotation. Chankonabe can be cooked easily and in large quantity, and sharing food from one pot creates a sense of unity among the wrestlers. For this reason, they often eat Chankonabe .

Let me introduce a restaurant to you which serves Chankonabe, “Shibamatsu (芝松)” in Meguro ward, Tokyo. It takes 1 minute from Midorigaoka station on the Tokyu Oimachi-line. My husband and I went to Shibamatsu around 6 o’clock on a Saturday evening and expected that the place would not be very crowded, but there were many customers already, enjoying drinking and eating. Shibamatsu serves not only foods but also beer, sake and distilled spirits. This Izakaya- like restaurant has a tables-and-chairs section and an ozashiki, a tatami-mat room. I like tatami mats because I feel like I am at home, but if you are not used to sitting down on tatami mats for a long time it might be better to sit at a table.

We ordered cucumber sticks with Rikishi-miso (their special miso paste), fried Tofu, thinly sliced raw squid and Chankonabe with Miso soup. I selected misofrom a choice of miso, salt, soy sauce, and kimchi. A friend of mine advised me beforehand that Chankonabe for one person at Shibamatsu is enough for two people, so we ordered it for one person. Soon I found my friend was right! I guessed that the Chankonabe was for one Sumo wrestler. We had planned to add rice or noodles into the Chankonabe after we ate the vegetables and meat in the soup, but we were too full to order it.

The other dishes were also delicious, and the cucumber sticks with Rikishi-miso was especially simple and tasty. If you do not want to eat warm Chankonabe with a portable gas stove in summer (even though the restaurant is air conditioned) you can enjoy other tasty dishes. Actually, I wanted to order more dishes, but we were stuffed, unfortunately. I decided to come back to this place in a bigger group the next time and order Kani (crab) cream croquettes!

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