Sorry folks. I guess it's time for me to finish up this post. I have been quite busy lately, but it's no excuse. Please accept my apologies.
Here are the details of my latest visit to Imanas Tei. I've been here off and on over the last couple of years and have yet to be disappointed. Imanas Tei is located in the same spot that was occupied by Apple Motoring so many years ago. If you don't know where it is, you might just pass right by it -- it's not easily seen from South King Street as it's set a good 50 yards back from the street.
Inside Imanas Tei, you'll find a sushi bar to the left of the entrance. At the front of the main dining area you'll find screened off section with seating on the floor (tatami mats) at low tables. I believe two parties of four can sit there.
The main dining area consists of a curved table in the middle of the room surrounded by several tables for four. The light wood furnishings and dim lighting make for a relaxed atmosphere.
Since I was in the mood for some chanko nabe, I decided to invite a couple of friends. Luckily, when we arrived at 9:30 pm, there was only a five minute wait for a table. After placing our order for the chanko nabe (US$18.50 per order, minimum two orders) we sat back and waited.
About five minutes later, our waitress returned with a hot plate, a huge pot, a pitcher of dashi (broth) and a huge platter of ingredients for the chanko nabe. She started by pouring the dashi into the pot. After the dashi started to bubble, she slowing started preparing "meatballs" by scraping some a ground pork mixture from a bamboo tube into the hot dashi. The meatballs were made with ground pork, ginger and green onions among other things.
After she had finished with the meatballs, she expertly placed all the remaining ingredients into the pot. How she fit it all in there is beyond me. The ingredients included salmon, king crab, clams, scallops and shrimp; won bok (Chinese cabbage), watercress, green onions, gobo (burdock root) and mushrooms; long rice, tofu, aburage (fried tofu) and sliced mochi; sliced beef and pieces of chicken. I hope I didn't forget anything.
As the aroma of the simmering food started to rise from the pot, we got anxious, even though we knew we had to wait.
Finally, after 15 minutes, everything was cooked perfectly and it was time to eat!
The dashi was lightly flavored with bonito and shoyu. It had a slightly sweet, savory flavor that combined wonderfully with the all additions to the pot, soaking up the flavors of the meat and seafood. This hearty "stew" was at once warming and comforting, with the freshness of the ingredients playing a big part in my overall satisfaction with this.
After we had finished eating everything that was in the pot, our waitress came back and asked if we wanted to finish off the dashi with either rice or udon. We chose to have this made into zosui (rice porridge). First, she skimmed the broth to make sure we had eaten everything. Then she added a little more dashi and a large bowl of rice to the pot and started stirring things around.
Add a bowl of whisked eggs, stir a bit more and it's done.
Ladle the zosui into individual bowls, top with some kizami nori and eat!
Zosui is a Japanese-style rice porridge, with the rice being similar in texture to jook (Chinese rice soup), and with a flavor that is reminiscent of risotto. The rice soaked up all of the flavorful dashi that was in the pot making this a tasty end to a wonderfully filling meal. This was so good, that I ended up eating two bowls!
Since the three of us split two portions of chanko nabe for dinner, we each had a bowl of green tea ice cream (US$2.50) for dessert.
Cool, sweet and refreshing, this was a tasty end to a great meal.
2626 South King Street