Thanks, Obama (for lunch)!
On May 27, Barack Obama became the first acting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, the city best-known internationally as the site of the first nuclear bombing, an attack carried out by the American military shortly before the end of World War II. While the White House has carefully asserted that the visit did not constitute an official apology, many observers have said the gesture is a significant step in healing the scars of the war.
The visit seems to have struck an amicable chord with at least one Hiroshima restaurateur. To commemorate Obama’s trip to the city, En-ya, a restaurant located near Hiroshima Station, is offering something called the Obama Bowl.
En-ya is a little hard to classify. Outside, there’s a lantern touting its yakiniku, or Korean barbecue, but inside you’ll find a standing bar area and a few stylishly simple tables that give off the vibe of a fashionable cafe.
But what brought us through the door was the signboard out front advertising the Obama Bowl for 880 yen (US$8).
A notation underneath Obama Bowl explained that the dish is a roast beef bowl, but there had to be something special about it to warrant the presidential moniker. With our interest piqued and appetite stimulated, we asked our server for an Obama Bowl, and were heartbroken to find out that it’s only available at dinnertime.
Unfortunately, we had a Shinkansen to catch back to Tokyo, and wouldn’t be able to come back again that evening. After explaining our plight to the staff, they agreed to bend the rules for us, and a few minutes later, they placed our Obama Bowl on the table.
Topping the roast beef are strips of nori seaweed and a soft-boiled egg, while underneath is a bed of shredded cabbage and white rice. The flags of the U.S. and Japan aren’t the only internationalized elements of the meal, though. While Japan is extremely proud of its domestically raised cattle, the Obama Bowl is made with imported American beef, and seasoned with salt from Obama’s home state of Hawaii.
Although the strips of roast beef are exceptionally thick, they’re also amazingly tender, plus delicious. Combined with the crisp cabbage, you’ve got a variety of texture to enjoy, and overall this might be the most satisfying roast beef bowl we’ve ever eaten.
However, similar to how Obama has since had to jet off to other parts of the world, the Obama Bowl is only going to be available for a limited time. If you’re keen to try it, En-ya will be serving the special dish until the end of the month.
Address: Hiroshima-ken, Hiroshima-shi, Minami-ku, Osuka-cho 13-27
Open 11 a.m.-1 p.m., 5 p.m.-midnight
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s trying to see when he can schedule his next trip to Hiroshima.
[ Read in Japanese ]