notsogenki.JPG

This object is bigger than it appears.

What: A "genton."

Where: Maekawa Bar (601 S. King St. #206, in the I.D.)

When: Monday night.

Cost:

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I Ate This: A giant fried mystery ball

Gozilla's newest foe surfaces in the I.D.

notsogenki.JPG

This object is bigger than it appears.

What: A "genton."

Where: Maekawa Bar (601 S. King St. #206, in the I.D.)

When: Monday night.

Cost: $5.50

Would I eat it again? Not without backup.

Official Tasting Notes: Every dish that arrived at our table seemed to be a rearrangement of the old one: pork, egg, cheese, fry, over and over again. That’s pretty standard for Maekawa’s izakaya menu, which stresses carbohydrate-and-fat-heavy small plates to go with heavy drinking. What wasn’t standard was the monstrosity these dishes were building up to: a titanic genton.

There’s some confusion over the name "genton." It's shorthand for a type of deep-fried pork cutlet that is “genki,” meaning energetic, enthusiastic, or healthy. Yet genton rolls off the tongue sounding like one of Godzilla’s enemies, and after eating it, I swear that’s a more accurate association. It does not make you genki. It doesn’t even look genki. As you can see, it looks like a fried football.

The meal began with a plate of kakuni, or hunks of boiled pork and a soft-boiled egg in sweet broth. The soft pork was striated with layers of melting fat, like a mille-feuille made from meat, and tasted wonderful. A rich, fishy omelet topped with mayo and spicy roe outdid any brunch omelet I’ve had in the past year, and the isobe age, or fried fish cakes, came with a helping of fishstick nostalgia. My hunger was strong when I sensed a slight gravitational pull toward the kitchen—the birth of a genton.

As it approached on the waitress’ tray, the genton seemed to bear a turbulent aura that wanted to hurl chairs and kick over tables. It was oddly without character on the plate, presenting itself as a golden, inscrutable orb. I had to work like a lumberjack with my knife to crack its crunchy rind. When I did manage to make entry, a cloud of pungent steam and orange slurry burbled upwards.

A genton, it turns out, is a slab of pork that’s been spread with cheese and garlic slices, then manhandled into a jellyroll and fried. A bowl of tangy tonkatsu sauce is its sidekick. The taste is reminiscent of one of the more calorific items on a Wendy’s menu: mild chicken with notes of salt and oil. It's the ideal stoner food—indeed, there was one red-eyed fellow at the next table who appeared to be vicariously chewing along with me—but it's so heavy that downing the whole thing wouldn’t end well even for Norville "Shaggy" Rogers. I shared it, but can still feel it oppressing my appetite like a sumo wrestler sitting on an 80-pound weakling.

This is my dining companion in the aftermath of the genton. In the standard facial-based pain chart, I'd say she's about an 8:

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