Good Eats

Hitsuji 8ban @ Akasaka

They are known as “Genghis Khan” Specialty Shops (ジンギスカン(成吉思汗)専門店) in Japan. These restaurants specialise in lamb or mutton grilled over a helmet-like cast iron grill.

What is the Jingisukan “Genghis Khan”?

In Japan, it does not refer to the legendary Mongolian warlord that conquered and dominated the Central Asian steppes, and once ruled over parts of Europe, Middle East and most part of Asia. If he has a navy, he would have conquered Americas.

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Excellent compliment to Mongolian grill

“Genghis Khan” refers to the Mongolian mutton bbq using a helmet-like cast iron grill. Legend has it that Genghis’ calvary was so efficient because they could bring along their food store and cook as and where they were, thus eliminating a long supply line in a war campaign. Because of the nomadic nature of the calvary, they mainly depended on sheep and lambs for meat which travelled with them. Cooking was grilling on their helmets – hence Mongolian BBQ was born.

The restaurant

Genghis Khan specialty store “HITSUJI 8BAN” (meaning “8 Sheeps”) specialises in providing the ultimate freshness to enjoy the original taste of mutton and lamb.

The lamb (mutton) used in “HITSUJI 8BAN” is purchased from Australia, New Zealand and France in a chilled (unfrozen) state, cut out and provided after ordering. In particular, French lamb is a rare and high-quality lamb whose import was lifted in 2017.

The dinner

Lamb was rarely eaten in Japan, except in Hokkaido where the Japanese government established and maintained sheep farms at the turn of the 20th century. But lamb is a really good meat – it has many essential amino acids and vitamin; healthy with unsaturated fatty acids; recommended for stamina and beauty! No kidding, lamb is regarded to help slow aging.

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Mary has a little lamb

Three homemade pickles

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Three homemade pickles

Homemade pickles served on a bed of ice. It kept the crunch and helped to soothe the hot, greasy and savoury BBQ meat. Consisted of pickled radish in two ways and beetroot.

Soft-boiled eggs with sea urchin and salmon roe

This appetiser is so wonderful! A soft-boiled eggs stewed in soy sauce, topped with sea urchin and salmon roe. The tasty egg white, the molten yolk and umami from uni and ikura – perfectly balanced in each portion.

New Zealand lamb chuck roast

The first piece was served almost rare. Only the surface was grilled, the inside is still blue. However, the lamb was soft almost like beef. I was taken away but how it could taste. Then the rest were served medium, like I wanted it to be. There were three type of sauce that were presented – salt, sweet sauce with garlic, Japanese herb sauce (their own blend of spring onions and olive oil).

The lamb chunk went best with sweet garlic soy sauce in the middle.

Mutton Sausages

All sheep and goat meat are called mutton. I was told lamb are mutton under 12 months old, hoggets are between 12-24 months. Very juicy and crunchy, the mutton sausage was made from meat from sheep over 24 months old.

It has a nice rosemary and thyme fragrance, with a peppery taste. There was enough bite to the casing, and it retained the moisture of the sausages. I like them slightly crispy and burnt, very smoky and flavourful.

Australian Lamb Chop

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When you order lamb chops, the chef will grilled it for you. The quality of the meat was tip-top and the grilling was executed perfectly. There was a nice char and crust, and the fats have rendered well. The lamb remained tender and moist, but I felt that the lamb chops were over seasoned, a bit too salty.

Nagano Hogget

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In addition, domestic sheep meat, which is only 1% of the market share, arrives irregularly from several farms, so it is valued for its high rarity and exquisite taste. Japanese mutton are mainly grain-fed with some very rare grass-fed still available in Hokkaido. But they do not have that gamey flavours associated with grain-fed lamb.

Nagano is second biggest prefecture that has the most Jingisukan restaurants after Hokkaido because of their sheep breeding in Toyama. The hogget was like the pork belly of mutton. The fats made the grill crackled with smoke and fire. In an instance the whole place was filled with the fragrance of BBQ meat.

As for the taste, I like the tenderness and full flavour of Japanese mutton. Too bad they were not exported for all to enjoy like wagyu.

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Front of the shop

In addition to Jingisukan that you can enjoy cooking at your leisure, there are also many cooked dishes. Especially recommended is the “Ramberg”, a lamb hamburger made with 100% ground Australian ground loin, which is made right in front of you.

They have various kinds of alcohol that can be offered as an all-you-can-drink so that you can enjoy the fresh lamb bbq slowly. While the restaurant has a wine cellar, do not expect a comprehensive selection – there are about 20 kinds of wines on hand, mostly table wines.

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None of the staff spoke English. While they have an English and Chinese menu, it would be difficult to understand their instructions. So come with a Japanese friend to get familiar with the dining concept of Jingisukan, then you can come on your own.

赤坂ジンギスカン HITSUJI8BAN(ひつじ8番)
Japan, 〒107-0052 Tokyo, Minato City, Akasaka, 3 Chome−13−2 1F
Tel : +81 3-5545-2831

https://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1308/A130801/13228643/

Date Visited : Mar 2020

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