Yeah, that sorta looks like a volcano, but it looks a lot more like something else.
We recently made our way to the city of Nagoya to visit Legoland, Japan’s newest major theme park. As much as we enjoyed seeing all the Lego displays, the size of the park was a little underwhelming. The observation tower, for example, is a mere 50 meters (164 feet) tall, making it shorter than many buildings in the Japanese urban landscape.
So as we left the park, we found ourselves wanting to see a towering, powerful shaft of some sort. This, in turn, led us to Volcano Kitchen.
Volcano Kitchen is a casual restaurant that originated in Osaka before opening its first Nagoya branch in 2016. Its name comes from the unique presentation of its signature dish of sliced roast beef and rice, which is arranged in a large, meaty shaft, which is supposed to look like a volcano.
▼ As with many casual Japanese restaurants, you buy a meal ticket from an automated machine.
At this point, you may be wondering how it’s possible for Volcano Kitchen’s chefs to present a “large, meaty shaft” without it looking like a penis. The answer, of course, is that such a thing is not, by any means, possible.
Yes, there’s no getting around the fact that Volcano Kitchen’s extra-large 1,590-yen (US$14) Fujiyama Volcano Plate will have many people thinking of a gigantic cock long before their minds make the connection to Mt. Fuji or volcanoes in general. As a matter of fact, customers have been giggling and snickering for some time as they snap and share the culinary equivalent of dick pics on social media.
▼ The rice is hidden at the base of the roast beef spire, which is solid meat in its mid-section.
In order to keep things moist and tasty, you’re given a choice between three different dipping sauces: soy butter, ginger onion, or tomato. All of the sauces contain garlic as well, ensuring that the thick rod of roast beef commands both visual and olfactory attention.
We opted for ginger onion, and once our food came, we gripped our chopsticks and felt a twinge of pity wash over ourselves as we pinched a piece of meat near the tip and pulled it off. In contrast to the shaft’s eminent erectness, the meat was tender, and the sauce complimented its natural flavors nicely.
In addition to your choice of sauce, there are also containers of mustard seeds and Tabasco on the table. With a variety of seasonings to switch back and forth between, we were happy to have so much meat to use them on. Eventually, though, we saw something protruding from the tip of the tower.
Part of the Volcano Plate’s firm appearance comes from the fact that there’s a boiled egg at the tip, which also accounts for its bulbous quality.
Since we’d already become somewhat desensitized to the initially unsettling sensation of peeling strips of meat off the top of the shaft, we mercilessly crushed the egg, sending viscous, gooey liquid running down to the base of the meat rod.
As a result, once we finally got down to the rice, it had mixed with and partially cooked the egg, reminiscent of the traditional Japanese dish called tamagokake gohan.
So in the end, the Volcano Plate succeeds in just about everything you could ask of a restaurant meal: it tastes good, fills you up, and makes for an unquestionably memorable dining experience. Really, about the only thing it doesn’t do is make you actually think of a volcano.
Volcano Kitchen (Nagoya Sakae branch) / ボルケーノキッチン 名古屋栄店
Address: Aichi-ken, Nagoya-shi, naka-ku, Sakae 3-4-5, Skyle 9th floor
Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m.