October 04, 2016
EAT

Chicken Cuisine With 100 Years Of History

著名人も愛した、100年の歴史を持つ鶏料理

Everlasting Taste In Changeable Era

Shimbashi is a city that keeps itself busy by letting its business workers work hard during the day time. At night it changes into one of the famous bar districts in Tokyo, again letting its workers turn into bar hoppers. Since its opening of Japan’s very first trains about 150 years ago, the city welcomes several hundreds of thousand people a day. It is an important part of the city that contributes into Japan’s economic system. Now the streets of Shimbashi are filled with modern buildings, where during the Meiji Era there have been horsecars running through the same streets. All the samurais have turned into workers known as “salary man” with suits and neatly tied neckties. There is a restaurant that has been seeing this change of the city, and that is Suegen, a long-established chicken cuisine restaurant, which we are going to talk about this time. Since its opening in 1909, it is guarding the land of Shimbashi for more than 100 years.

Suegen is a traditional Japanese restaurant that serves chicken pots called “Wa”. There are many of the notable regulars visiting this place since its opening. The dinner course menu can be a little pricy. However about 20 years ago they have started lunch time service, serving more reasonable lunch menus. What we’d like to introduce to you this time is their typical but yet popular lunch menu called “Kama Teishoku (Kama set meal)”.

The word Kama Teishoku is coming from Japanese word “kama”, which means “iron pot” and is used to be popular for cooking rice in the old days. The menu is originally served as lunch catering for its workers of the restaurant. What is used in this recipe is the same kind of minced chicken meat, which they will use for the dinner pot menu later. They cook the minced chicken with original stock, soy sauce and several other special ingredients, pour mixed egg at the end, and served on top of rise bowl (sort of like Oyakodon, if you know of).

The recipe is especially invented for those delivery drivers coming into the restaurant to deliver food supplies before its opening. It is a simple recipe so this can be served fast and is easy to eat, as those workers are on tight daily grind. The rumours have broke into the public crowd as this dish becomes so popular within the drivers. Suegen then officially starts to serve this dish as lunch menu from 1993. So of couse more people can enjoy this dish!

変わる時代に、変わらぬ味

昼間はビジネス街として、夜は赤提灯が灯る飲み屋街として賑わう新橋。日本最初の鉄道が開通して150年以上が経った今も、1日数十万人の人が行き交い、日本の経済を支える街だ。明治時代に鉄道馬車が通っていた道には近代的なビルが立ち並び、侍たちはスーツにネクタイを締めてサラリーマンへと変貌。そんな時代が移りゆく姿を静かに見続けてきたのは、老舗の鶏料理店『末げん』。明治42年(1909年)に店を構えて以来、100年以上に渡ってこの地を守っている。
古くから数多くの著名人が訪れている『末げん』は、「わ」と呼ばれる鶏鍋をメインに伝統と格式のある味を提供し続けてきた。夜は少々お高いコース料理だが、およそ20年前よりリーズナブルなランチ営業もスタート。今回は、その中でも代表的なメニュー“かま定食”を紹介しよう。
“かま定食”の名前の由来は、お釜の「釜」。もともとはまかない食としてふる舞われていた。鶏鍋に使われるつくねの材料・合挽き肉に割り下で味をつけ、卵で溶いてご飯に乗せたいわゆるひき肉の親子丼。開店前にお使いに来た業者や配達の運転手などに、サッと作れてサッと食べさせられるものとして編み出された一品だった。ところが、これを食べた人から思わぬ好評! 「もっと多くのお客さんにも味わってもらおうよ」ということで、平成5年より一般客にも提供されている。

It Goes Smooth Down Your Throat

Explaining how good the food tastes is always difficult by words. As we have become more aware that it is understandable that you would want to let other people know of this taste as you actually eat. Simply speaking, the minced chicken tastes much different (yes, it is a chicken cuisine restaurant so how can it not be). They mix the meat of chicken, game fowl, and duck for two times by grounding all together to make their original minced meat. Of course the recipe on what is mixed for how much is a confidential note. The reason why they ground the meat together is to make the texture more smooth. This is so you can find more smoothness when you eat the meat. Carefully minced meat allows depth in taste and unique texture. It is voluminous in amount, but is no big job to finish the whole dish as you will find it so easy to eat. Assuming our body can continue on consuming if the food is first quality. Never feel full!

The chicken served on lunch menu is the same chicken served at dinner menu (which comes in a posh course menu). It is reasonable enough that you can enjoy the same quality at lunch price. When you order the lunch set deal, they will come with chicken soup and pickles for a price of 1000 yen. Hard to imagine this can be the price to enjoy the taste of long-established restaurant.

Number of foreign customers are rising, as they get introduced of this place from their hotels. Suegen is also used for business occasions too. Foreign guests get excited about its classical Japanese zashiki seatings with shoes off, and the tasteful dinner by looking at traditional Japanese interior, such as Japanese writing hanging scrolls and classical flower arrangements. Few have been seen poking the hot pot during summer time, drinking ice cold sake, and turning their faces red as apples. In the end they have left the place saying that it is a “great food and a good Japan experience”. As a Japanese, this is a place where you can proudly introduce to people.

なめらかで、のどごしのよい親子丼

実際に食べさせていただくと、なるほど、これは人に紹介したくなる。まず、使われているひき肉の旨みが違う。割合は企業秘密だが、鶏・軍鶏・合鴨を使って2回合挽き。重ねて挽くのは粒子を細かくすることでなめらかさが増し、口にした時の“のどごしのよさ”を考えての手法だという。丁寧にミンチされているため、食感や味のしみ方も格別。ボリュームは若干多めだが、これが意外とスルスルいける。やはりいい食材は、いくら食べても入るのか。本来は夜のコースで提供される特製ひき肉を使っているのだから、ランチ価格でたっぷり堪能できるのはだいぶお得だろう。鳥スープに酢の物、漬物までついて1000円。老舗の味をいただける値段とはとても思えない。
最近は海外からのお客さまも増えているようだが、ほとんどがホテルから案内されて来るそうだ。さらにビジネス上の接待で利用されることも多く、靴を脱いで座敷に座り、床の間の軸や生け花を愛でながらのディナーに外国の方も大喜び。暑い時期に暑い鍋を囲み、冷酒で真っ赤になりながら「本当に美味しかった。ニッポンのいい体験ができた」と帰っていく姿も見られるという。日本人としても、鼻を高くして紹介できる店といってもよいだろう。

The Taste Mishima Has Loved

There is another reason why many people visit this restaurant. This restaurant is a place where Yukio Mishima, one of the famous and a representative of Japanese literature, has chosen as his last dinner of his life. To wrap up some history quickly, Mishima has visited Suegen with the members of his activists group “Shield Society” on 24th November in 1970. The person who has been in charge of Mishima’s table is the wife of Suegen’s third generation now (also know as the president of Suegen). It is in May that same year when she has married her husband now, and Mishima’s table is her first ever job to take care of. A day after on the 25th, Mishima has entered Japan’s Self-defence Force in Tokyo and has committed a suicide. Mishima has been a regular his when he is a kid, taken by his father. Suegen is a familiar restaurant for Mishima, and thus he has chosen this restaurant as a place of his last dinner. All the interior of Suegen haven’t been changed since when Mishima’s time. They are now shining in light brown color, offering nostalgic and unique feelings to the Mishima fan customers. Walking the same place as Mishima has walked. This is quite a lot to take for fans.

Suegen has been seeing the changes in city and era for more than 100 years. Within that is also some big historical changes that Japan has gone through. Not just their original taste, but also they have secured some important histories of Japan. From the Great Kanto Earthquake to its air raid in Tokyo during the World War II, Suegen’s building have survived these life threatening events, and is evidential so when you look at their black and white photograph of their opening, which is placed on the wall inside. This is a place where you can enjoy its longly established taste and feel the history what Japan has gone through.

三島が愛した、日本の味

実はこちらのお店、訪れる人が絶えない理由がもう一つある。日本を代表する作家であり、日本の文化と伝統を心より愛していた三島由紀夫が、最後の晩餐として選んだのが『末げん』なのだ。1970年11月24日、三島は同じ志を持つ仲間“楯の会”のメンバーとともに店を訪れた。当時接客を担当したのは、3代目(現社長)の奥さまでもある現女将。その年の5月にご主人と結婚した彼女にとって、初めて持つ席だったという。そして翌25日、三島は市ヶ谷駐屯地にてクーデターを起こし自決。「これが最後の食事かもしれない」と食したのが、幼い頃から祖父に連れられて馴染みの深かった『末げん』の鶏鍋だったのだ。今も玄関口でお客さまを迎える床材や竹格子は、それこそ三島が通い詰めていた頃より使われているもの。飴色に光り、独特の艶感を放つ床を踏みしめながら、「先生もここを通ったのだ……」と感慨に浸るファンも多い。
100年の時を経て、日本が大きく揺れた時代を目の当たりにしてきた『末げん』。伝統の味以上に、大事な歴史もこの店は守り続けてきた。店内に飾られた創業当初のモノクロ写真、関東大震災・東京大空襲をくぐり抜けて残された建築材など。伝統の味はもちろんのこと、日本人の想いが詰まった趣そのものを楽しむ感覚で訪れていただきたい。

SHOP INFO

Tori Kappo Suegen

Address: 2-15-7, Shimbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-3591-6214

Opening Hours
Lunch / 11:30~13:00
Dinner / 17:00~22:00 (On Saturday until 21:00)
*There is an irregular closing day on one of the Saturdays a month.

CLOSING: Sunday and National Holidays

鳥割烹 末げん

住所:東京都港区新橋2-15-7
TEL: 03-3591-6214

営業時間:
昼 / 11:30〜13:30
夜 / 17:00〜22:00(土曜日は21:00)
※土曜日は、不定期で月に1度休み

定休日:日曜・祝日

writer / EMI.N
photographer / MIREI SAKAKI

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