If you are interested in Sumo wrestling, then you should go see some Sumo match at the Ryogoku stadium in Tokyo. As soon as you arrive at the Ryogoku train station, you will see all kinds of Sumo memorabilia and decorations. Even when there is no Sumo wrestling match, you can still enjoy the traditional Sumo wrestlers’ dish, Chanko-nabe, which is a Japanese soup with meat, veggies, rice/noodle, etc. I heard that they make a huge hot pot with everything in it, and the highest ranking Sumo wrestler gets the first dip. Then the next highest rank, to the next, to the next. About the time it gets to the lowest ranking, or new recruits, there are only broth left in the huge hot pot… It is a good motivation to want to get to higher rank wrestler if you want some meat! LOL
There are several restaurants around the Sumo wrestling stadium that offers small version of the chanko nabe, for normal size people, so that we get to experience what their favorite Sumo wrestler might be eating.
We went to one of the chain restaurant who specializes in chanko nabe, called Chanko Edosawa. When you walk in, you see some Sumo memorabilia on the wall as well by the register. The interesting part (to me) was, the restaurant was on the second floor, even though the cash register is right there at the entrance on the first floor… Anyways, we went up to the second floor via elevator, as directed.
When you get out the elevator, it is very different world, has that traditional Japanese style decoration and tatami rooms. You take your shoes off and sit on the tatami floor, and if you have a jacket, there are hangers on the wall by each table.
Their menu offering are not just hot pot, but also some traditional Japanese dishes such as grilled fish platter, and some donburi, tempura, etc.
We of course wanted to try chanko nabe, so we ordered Ojiya Udon Platter (980 yen, roughly about $10) and Pork Chanko nabe Platter (1,580 yen, roughly about $16). The Ojiya Udon Platter comes with pork, veggies, egg, over rice AND udon noodle. It also comes with some sides such as pickles, and also, Japanese style fried chicken. The fried chicken was super juicy, packed with flavor, it was really amazing! I was pleasantly surprised with that.
The Pork Chanko nabe Platter, came with a LOT more pork and veggies, egg, and some sides such as pickles and white rice. No fried chicken with this platter, but you get unlimited white rice. Since there is nothing under the pork and veggie in this hot pot (no rice nor noodle), you get much more of the meat and veggies.
Also, with each hot pot, you get to choose the broth: salt, soy sauce, or miso broth. We both chose miso broth. It seems that they take pride in their broth, so it tasted pretty great. It was not too salty or strong, it was smooth, just right amount of spice, and went great with the pork and veggies.
As soon as the hot pot is brought to your table (uncooked), they light up a fire underneath, and it cooks pretty quickly right in front of your eyes. You can cook as long or as short as you like, based on your preference. It was fun looking at the hot pot getting all bubbled up. This is how the Ojiya Udon pot looked when it was cooked and ready to eat! You can add extra flavor such wasabi and garlic, but they taste pretty darn amazing without anything else.
A fun way to experience Sumo wrestler style food, and I am pretty sure we got tastier version than what they eat, unless they have professional chef preparing this dish. We were full, happy, and completely stuffed! The staff here were friendly and polite, good service, no complaints. Since their fried chicken was another super amazing dish, I am sure all of their menu offerings other than hot pot dishes are great also. But, if you are there to have the Sumo experience, definitely go for one of their hot pot dishes! If you are not a big fan of pork, don’t worry, they have hot pot with beef and chicken also. Just don’t forget, you pay your bill on the first floor… There are some nice places nearby, such as Old Yasuda Park, where you can take a nice walk after a big meal.
Chanko Edosawa Ryogoku – 3-26-4 Ryogoku, Sumida 130-0026, Tokyo