8 Recommended Chankonabe You Should Try in Japan!

8 Recommended Chankonabe You Should Try in Japan!

To begin with, I want to explain that nabe (pron. nabbeh) is simply a kind of cooking pot, wider than a western saucepan and typically less deep, perhaps something like a casserole. The terms nabemono, nabe ryori or, simply nabe, refer, therefore, to a variety of dishes cooked in such a pot over an open heat source. Sukiyaki and shabu-shabu are both well known types of nabe ryori. In general, nabe cooking is not haute cuisine but family dining, common to most Japanese homes at one time or another, often for family get together, or at nabe restaurants that cater for groups.

There are no fixed recipes to nabe cooking, but the heart of any nabe is in its broth, which may be a dashi (出汁) or chicken stock base with sake and mirin added for flavor. Typically cooked at the table centre over a charcoal, gas or electric brazier, fresh ingredients are arranged in the broth in such a way as to ensure they will all be fully cooked at the same time. Most cooks will use whatever is seasonally available, which can include chicken, or other meats like thinly sliced beef, fish cakes, tofu, white shimeji mushrooms, leek, leaf vegetables, daikon or… well, anything to hand! As the nabe cooks, the base broth becomes enriched with all the flavors of the ingredients. Chankonabe, on the other hand, is pretty much the same thing except that it includes a much higher protein content, typically quartered chicken, skin and all, and eaten in huge quantities by sumo wrestlers as part of their weight gaining efforts. Beer and sake are also consumed with chankonabe to increase calorie intake.Most chankonabe restaurants are owned or operated by former sumo wrestlers and many such establishments can be found clustered around the environs of sumo stables. In Tokyo, the absolute Mecca for sumo is the Ryogoku neighborhood of Sumida ward. Close to the National Sumo Stadium and dotted with sumo stables, the area has a large number of chankonabe restaurants for the visitor to try. Here is my personal selection of eight of the better known ones.



 

8 Recommended Chankonabe You Should Try in Japan!

 

1. Chanko Kawasaki

8 Recommended Chankonabe You Should Try in Japan!_kawasaki

According to legend, this was the very first chankonabe restaurant, opened in 1937, and it enjoys a reputation for its simple and traditional chanko food and atmosphere. Reservation is required, and cash only.

 

2. Edosawa

8 Recommended Chankonabe You Should Try in Japan!_edosawa

This is essentially an izakaya, or Japanese style pub, so it has a wider menu of dishes to choose from as well as traditional chankonabe. It is also one of the more reasonably priced establishments and accepts major credit cards.

 

3. Ami Ryogoku Sohonten

With a wide range of nabe, chanko and izakaya style dishes at reasonable prices, Ami has become a great favorite with Tokyoites and tourists alike.

 

4. Chanko Kirishima Ryogokuhonten

8 Recommended Chankonabe You Should Try in Japan!_kirishima

Kirishima serves a more traditional style chankonabe and is very popular with foreign visitors. They are open every day, have English speaking staff and accept all major credit cards. Prices are slightly above average, but the food is very good.

 

5. Kappoyoshiba

Located in Tsukiji fish market, this restaurant prides itself on its fresh fish as well as traditional chankonabe. Occupying the original building of the Miyagino sumo stable, complete with sumo ring (dohyo), the restaurant also has special live events. Children welcome, English menu and all major credit cards accepted.

 

6. Tomoegata

Reasonable prices and good food has made this traditional chankonabe restaurant very popular with locals and visitors. Open every day, they accept all major credit cards.

 

7. Fukunotori

This restaurant has the lowest prices of any Ryogoku chanko shops I know. Serving traditional chankonabe, yakitori (skewered grilled chicken) and izakaya style dishes, it is open all year round, has an English menu, an all you can drink menu and accepts major credit cards. Excellent value!

 

8. Kappokariya

This is a very traditional style Japanese restaurant specialising in fugu (puffer fish) as well as chankonabe. The average price per person is the highest in this list, but the food and presentation are excellent. Open every day, Kappokariya accepts all major credit cards.

 

Conclusion

Wherever your Japan travels take you, if there is an area where sumo stables proliferate, you will find chankonabe shops to try. As a dish, it is quite healthy, if a little heavier on the protein than most other nabe ryori, so don’t be afraid to try it. Happy eating!

 

8 Recommended Chankonabe You Should Try in Japan!

1. Chanko Kawasaki
2. Edosawa
3. Ami Ryogoku Sohonten
4. Chanko Kirishima Ryogokuhonten
5. Kappoyoshiba
6. Tomoegata
7. Fukunotori
8. Kappokariya