About 95-97% of the population of Pakistan is Muslim, which means there’s not a lot of pork eaten in the country. Pakistanis do, however, eat a lot of sheep. And when they eat sheep, they eat all of the sheep — meat, heart, genitals, brains, you name it and Pakistanis have a recipe for it.
If you know where to look, you can even find Pakistani restaurants here in Japan that serve dishes using some of the more exotic parts of the animal.
One such restaurant is Maruhaba in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, which serves sheep brain curry.
We recently sent reporter Mr. Sato to Maruhaba to try the dish out; after all, he looks like he could benefit from a little more brain.
His report follows below:
Maruhaba is just a 5 minutes walk from the west exit of Ikebukuro station, located among a row of Chinese, Korean and other ethnic restaurants.
I entered the restaurant at about 14:30, a little later than when most people usually eat lunch. I was surprised to find that I was actually the only Japanese person in the shop and I almost hesitated to sit down as all the other customers looked up at me as I walked in.
Glancing over the menu, I quickly found it: sheep brain curry. And in a little blurb written below it, Maruhaba claims it is the only place you can get sheep brain curry in Japan.
The restaurant was somewhat crowded despite it being near the end of lunch hours and it took some time for the food to reach my table. Or maybe brains just take longer to prepare?
Whatever the case, I spent the interim listening to other customers chat away in Urdu and trying to figure out what the Pakistani program being shown on the TV was about. While I was nervous at first, there was an exotic mood to the restaurant that made it feel like I was really visiting Pakistan.
After about 20 minutes of waiting, I was finally presented with the dish you see in the pictures above and below. It looked like a standard ground meat curry dish and while the distinctive smell lamb is known for was present, it wasn’t strong enough to be unpleasant. If anything, the faint acidic aroma of the tomato served to whet my appetite.
The texture of the meat was soft and spongy, much like uni (sea urchin). The flavor of the meat itself was sheepish (pun intended) but detectable, somewhere in between the lightness of chicken and richness of beef.
Overall sheep brain soup was more bland than I had imagined and may not be the best dish for someone looking for something with a strong taste and texture.
I later found out that sheep brain curry is in fact on the menu of other Pakistani restaurants around the country, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble if you want to try the dish for yourself. How’s that for peace of mind?
Twitter: Food Queen Sato
▼ Sheep brain curry
▼ The little white bits scattered about are the brain
▼ Keema (minced beef) Nan
▼ The gate to Pakistan