Last Friday, my department had a welcoming dinner for two new staff members. It was held at Kushi-ie, in Shibuya, and the whole experience falls into my "Only in Japan" file.
Basically, the gig works like this:
You pay 2500 yen for 90 minutes of all-you-can-eat-and-drink. The food is all bite-sized pieces of chicken, pork, shrimp, veggies, beef, hard-boiled quail eggs, and smoked cheeses, impaled on skewers (one bite-sized item per skewer). It is all raw (except for the eggs), and offered buffet style. They also have a "salad bar", which is no more than stuff like potato, macaroni, and egg salad. The customer goes through the buffet, chooses the items that look appealing, and returns to their table.
At each person's place at the table is a bowl of batter, and a dish of bread crumbs. And, built into the middle of each table is a communal deep fryer. Yup, it's deep-fry-your-own-food night in Tokyo.
The actual quality of the uncooked food is quite good. Everything seems quite fresh. If the customer is adept at this type of cooking, the finished product is quite tasty. The restaurant does offer ponzu, tonkatsu, hot chili, and orange/pear/salad oil sauces for dipping your morsels in.
And, the novelty of the experience wears off in about 3 beers. Especially for my boss and me, since we both did our requisite stints with restaurant deep-fryers as teens. I ended up being two hours late for my next engagement, due to the fact that I had to get home, and try to shower that penetrating odor of hot oil out of my hair, goatee, and skin. The pervasivness of the aroma is about the same as is experienced at a cook-your-own-okinomiyaki restaurant.
Even though the food was good, I wasn't a big fan of the place. But, judging by the line of people waiting to get in as we left, I just might be in the minority.
Oh yeah, they also have do-it-yourself soft-serve ice cream cones for dessert.