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Meatrea Meat Theme Park, Minami-Osawa



When we first learned of Meatrea, billed as Japan's first meat theme park, we were intrigued. Not just a collection of meat restaurants, they also boast a Meat Musuem (or "Museo de Carne" as they mysteriously call it) with an educational component. And when we heard out about their tonkatsu parfait, a dessert featuring ice cream and pork, we knew we'd have to hop on the train to inspect the place for ourselves.

Located in Minami-Osawa, a Tokyo suburb 40 minutes from Shinjuku station, Meatrea is a collection of seven restaurants representing various meat cuisines - grilled chicken, Korean-style yakiniku, pork cutlets, pork steaks, barbecued ribs - occupying the top floor of a shopping mall. It's run by Namco, the game-center company behind other food-themed complexes such as Gyoza Stadium, Dessert Forest and Ice Cream City.

Famous regional meat products are featured in most of the restaurants, so the yakiniku is made with Ohmi beef, the grilled chicken with cochin (an especially tasty breed of bird from Nagoya), and so on. We also noticed at least three regional microbrew beers to accompany the meat dishes (Dogo from Ehime, Hide from Miyazaki, and Kinshachi red miso-flavored lager from Nagoya if you're keeping track). Running at cross-purposes to the Japanese regional theme is a Spanish village design motif, with rustic faux-stonework on the walls, pictures of bullfighters, signs announcing a Carne Fiesta, and bathrooms for Senoras and Senores.

Besides sampling various meaty snacks and regional beers you can also digest a few tidbits of educational content at the aforementioned Museo de Carne. In this library-themed section of the complex where you can learn about premium branded meats like Tokyo X pork and Maezawa beef. One display case is devoted to the history of various sausages, and another one proudly shows off a 45-rpm record of the hit single "Sukiyaki."

Each of the restaurants offers inexpensive take-out items in addition to sit-down service, although several were sold out by late afternoon on the day of our visit. Below are some details of the individual shops.




Kiyomaru (Ehime Prefecture) - tonkatsu pork cutlet

Tonkatsu parfait is perhaps their most famous dish (the main shop's website URL refers to it), but Kiyomaru sells other "abnormal tonkatsu" items like pork cutlet pockets stuffed with fried rice, cheese and other ingredients. The parfait (Y580) comes in a huge ice-cream cone that holds a good-sized dollop of green-tea ice cream and bits of kiwi, pineapple, cherries, mikan and apple, with whipped cream and two strips of tasty deep-fried pork.

We hate to criticize such a bold experiment, but if you're going to take the plunge and eat an ice-cream and pork parfait you really want the pork to play a bigger role in the total taste experience, and we thought the two strips of tonkatsu were overwhelmed by the desserty elements. Perhaps the large-size parfait (Y2000 and available only in limited numbers) has a better pork to ice-cream balance, but unfortunately it was sold out.

Honpo (Miyazaki Prefecture) - nikumaki (rice ball)

This take-out shop sells nikumaki (Y300-330 each) - onigiri rice balls wrapped in roast pork and lettuce instead of seaweed, with a nice soy-sauce-flavored tare (sauce). Cheese fans though we are, we prefered the plain nikumaki to the cheese version.

Torikai (Aichi Prefecture) - chicken

The Nagoya cochin breed of chicken is the star of the menu here, with deep-fried chicken wings, oyako-donburi (chicken and egg over rice) and cochin egg custard on offer.

We enjoyed the excellent "special oyako-donburi" (Y1800), a big bowl of rice with a bright-yellow raw egg on top along with big chunks of chicken with a distinctive smoky flavor from the charcoal-grilling. It came with a spoon as well as chopsticks, as the egg creates an increasingly soupy mixture towards the bottom of the bowl. Accompanying the donburi were delicious miso-marinated takuan pickles and red-miso soup.

Hot Stuff (Aichi Prefecture) - barbecue ribs

Barbecued baby back ribs are Y3600 for a large portion served with corn and fried potatoes, or Y1200 for a small portion to go. Our take-home ribs were meaty and tender, but the sauce was fairly unexciting.



Geki (Hyogo Prefecture) - yakiniku

Korean yakiniku (beef barbecue) made with Ohmi beef is the specialty here. For take-out they sell Chinese-style nikuman buns made with Ohmi beef (Y290), although these seem to go quickly.

Tokyo Tonki (Tokyo) - pork steaks

Inexpensive pork steaks (Y800), pork burgers and garlic rice are among the dishes at this Tokyo-based shop.

Gold Rush (Tokyo) - hamburg steaks

A staple of yoshoku cuisine, hamburg steaks (Y900) here come with on an iron platter with gravy, baked potatoes, and lunchroom-style mixed vegetables - peas, diced carrots and corn. They also sell minced beef croquettes to go (Y150 each), at least until they sell out.


Tokyo Meatrea sits atop the Frente shopping mall just across from Minami-Osawa station on the Keioh Line. Shops are open daily 11am-10pm. We didn't see any English menus.

If you're making the trip you may also want to check out the nearby Mitsui Outlet Park, a sprawling mall with outlet shops for Adidas, Levi's, Lacoste, Zoff, Franc Franc and dozens of other brands.

by Robb Satterwhite

Tokyo Meatrea

Minami-Osawa 2-1-6, Hachioji, Tokyo
Frente Minami-Osawa 5F
map

Open 11am-10pm daily.
042-653-3729
http://www.keio-ekichika.com/tokyomeatrea/

Copyright (c) Robb Satterwhite.
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