Saturday, June 27, 2015

Enter Sapporo Kani-Ya in Kyoto, A Crab Heaven

You’ll think you’ve died and gone to Crab Heaven when you enter Sapporo Kani-Ya, which is located within walking distance from IZUJU. Kani-Ya means “Crab House,” and this Kyoto branch specializes in boiled crab dishes.

The Sapporo Kani-Ya restaurant occupies an entire building, and we had to remove our shoes and enter an elevator that brought us up to another level, one that was filled with private rooms. The ambience was so serene, and the service so orderly, that there was even a buzzer on the table in our private room with which to summons a waitress.

I couldn’t believe how detailed, how overwhelmingly crab the menu was. There were endless photographs of crab sets and crab dishes, even a depiction of Crab Hierarchy: the Authentic King Crab, Hairy Crab, Queen Crab. There was vinegared crab, crab miso soup, crab shumai, crab tofu, crab hot pot. There was crab au gratin and crab salad, and even grilled crab innards for the die-hards.

Other pages of the menu were divided into Fascinating Zen Sets, Incredible Kai-seki Sets, and Complete Zen Sets, followed by a “Convincing Crab Guide.” The guide, along with pictures, detailed origins and sizes of their three main crab types: the Authentic King, Queen, and Hairy Crabs.

The most expensive ensemble, known as the “Complete Zen Set,” costs about ¥5,724 (about $46), and seems to encompass it all: crab tofu, snow crab mini hot pot, whole boiled “horsehair” crab, crab shumai, crab futo maki sushi, and a broth soup. Desire a whole king crab? The menu here states you can order one for ¥22,680 (about $185)—or order half a king crab for ¥14,040. If you fancy a whole hairy crab, not only will you have to wait about 40 minutes before it’s served, but there are two sizes to choose from: the medium hairy crab will run you between ¥5,832 and ¥8,424; the larger behemoth might pinch your wallet at up to ¥15,120 each. Or, choose the Queen Crab, which requires advanced booking: the price is “dependent on daily auction rates at the port of landing.”

The array of options were dizzying, and I eventually chose the Assorted Supreme Crab Sushi for ¥1998 (or $16), though if I had more time and didn’t feel so stuffed (it was a wonder I could still continue to eat), I’d have chosen a set, a crab cornucopia that burst in all directions when it finally arrived at my table.

We sat there for quite a spell, my travel companion relishing bowls of crab miso soup; and I, still craving more, ordered a second item: the “Vinegared Pincer Meat” of King Crab, for ¥2,700 (about $22). To my delight, it came with a saucer full of extra vinegar for dipping purposes, which reminded me of the serving style at K-ZO in Culver City when you ordered the Hairy Crab there.

Although Sapporo Kani-Ya offers crab-themed escapism, a note on their website actually suggests that you can “feel free to ask for dishes without crabs.” With the exception of the vegetables and tofu, the only non-crab item I saw on the menu was shrimp tempura. Everything else was sheer crab-infused delight.

Sapporo Kani-Ya
Gion Ishidan Shita Minami
Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Japan 605-0829

1 comment :

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