Address: Kabukicho 1-3-10, Shinjuku
Kabuki-Cho is infamous for its seedy back streets and questionable establishments, and nothing captures the black market feel of the district better than Shanghai Xiaochi.
Pushed into the far recesses of the alleyways away from public view, this hole in the wall’s ancient architecture makes it stand out against the rows of newly rebuilt high rises that flank it, assuming you know where to look. Venture from the dank streets and into its garish interior and all it takes is a cursory glance at the menu to find out why it lies far from prying eyes. Dog stew, broiled dove, steamed scorpions—But rest assured, these items are chosen for their flavor rather than their shock value.
Deep Fried Frog
Tasty though unwieldy, like chomping on a chicken nugget with a fully formed skeleton. The bones take up precious real estate, which means less meat for your dollar, though once you spit them out you can play archeologist and try to combine them into a new animal.
Curried Bull Penis
Imagine if string cheese was combined with konyaku and you’d have a good idea of what it feels like to chow down on a bull’s tallywacker. Surprisingly stringy and ambient in flavor, you’re guaranteed a mouthful of pure protein with every flaccid bite.
Soft and delectable, like tenderized marinade. The rest of the developed world needs to get on this culinary technology.
Gelatinized Duck Blood
Darker and heavier than its bone-meal supermarket brethren, blood Jell-O is a real treat, especially when served in a pool of spicy rayu sauce. The whole thing comes together like an edible visage of Phlegethon, complete with bits of fleshy cow stomach bobbing along the surface.
Silky as soft serve with the cohesive consistency of tofu, these gray folds melt in your mouth and coat the inside with a creamy film of fat. Unfortunately, the dish must be served fresh, making it a case of first-come first-serve. The economic downturn has cut further into supply, reminding us that not even brains are safe from the dreaded Lehman Shock.
For those of you looking to expand your Friday night palette beyond the standard yaki niku and curry, all you have to do is follow the sign to a world of underground delicacies. Just be sure to leave your cultural reservations at the door.