Kyojin no Stew House: Giants, Leprechauns, Tall Tales, and Authentic Irish Food
Up for a traditional Irish dish? Togoshi Ginza shopping district of south Tokyo, you’ll find the flavors of Ireland served up just right at Kyojin Stew House.
Kyojin Stew House
Tokyo is home to a world of cuisine, but some food can be hard to come by. And when you do find it, you often wonder how authentic it is. No worries with this place, the name of which means “giant.” Here, Ireland native and owner Alan Fisher brings his childhood memories straight to the table.
This is a man who loves his mother’s cooking. When she made her famous potato bread, she had to make double the normal amount, because young Alan, tub of butter in hand, would grab the bread as soon as it came off the pan and eat until he was stuffed.
Recounting that childhood experience, Fisher jokingly describes his mom’s stews as being legendary throughout the Dundalk area of Ireland. He’ll never forget coming home from school to the smell of lamb stew cooking in the big pot, thus his passion for sharing that childhood splendor with Tokyo.
Fisher’s story of how he came to Japan—as he tells its—begins when he ran into a leprechaun named Ena, who had been caught in a trap set by giants. Ena offered Fisher a new life in a foreign country if he could set him free. The only catch was that the ring Ena placed on Fisher’s finger could never be removed. If it was, Fisher would be transported back to Ireland. Fisher freed Ena from the trap and was quickly transported to Japan where he met his future wife, Ai, who claimed she had a dream about meeting him. And as they say, the rest is history.
You can choose to believe this tale born of Irish folklore, or you can assume Fisher got here the traditional way: through a job.
If you choose the latter, you won’t be surprised to learn that he worked hard for many years at a software company as he dreamed of bringing Irish cooking and culture to his newly adopted home.
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A Taste of Ireland
It would be impossible to fully understand why Fisher was so moved by that stew from his childhood without tasting it, so my wife, Miwa, and I visited Kyojin Stew House. As soon as we entered, our senses were stimulated by the sounds of pot lids clanking, the rich Irish aromas hitting our noses, and the visual delight of wonderful dishes made using fresh ingredients. Our stomachs growled in anticipation.
Beef stew simmering in the pot
There is no grill, just huge pots where he and his chefs cook up 6,076 gallons of stew annually. When he started to make his dream a reality, Fisher flew his mother over from Ireland to taste test his cooking and make sure the recipe was authentic. She gave him a thumbs-up, and the restaurant opened in February 2015.
Alan preparing to serve his stew
As you work your way down the menu, it is hard to choose a stew. Fish? Lamb? Beef? All include healthy portions of local vegetables with just the proper amount of seasoning. Enjoy the main dish with soda bread—made fresh daily—and pair your meal with an imported Guinness, Belfast Lager, Maggie’s Leap IPA, or one of the many Irish whiskeys on offer.
My wife ordered the lamb stew, and I opted for the beef stew with mash, soda bread, and a half pint of Guinness. Fisher brought extra bowls so we could share.
Lunch: Beef and lamb stews, soda bread, mash, rice, and Guinness
The first bite was sheer pleasure, and that is the absolute truth. Miwa is very critical of Western food, and her reaction was even more enthusiastic than mine. The bread was served with butter and fresh rhubarb sauce. This meal is fit for a king!
The first bite
After enjoying your meal, be sure to check out the far end of the room where there is an Irish cultural exhibit. A folder explaining each picture comes with your meal.
Fisher is very passionate about sharing his homeland because many Japanese people have misconceptions about Ireland. He is not only an excellent chef, but also a great storyteller—as evidenced by his book A Giant’s Dream (The Fay Folk Series).
All proceeds from sales of the book go directly to realizing his vision of creating a larger establishment that will include a museum of Irish culture, bakery, food imports area, bar, stage, and a library of Irish books.
This is not just a great meal, but an experience you will not soon forget. I will be going back again to try the fish stew and learn more about Ireland.
Sharing a hearty thumbs-up with Fisher
Oh, by the way, when you meet Fisher, take note of the ring on his finger. Remember the Giant’s Tale and Ena the leprechaun?
For access, opening hours, upcoming events, and to read his Giant’s Dream tale, visit www.kyojin-stewhouse.com/kyojin-homepage.
This article was written by Guy ArnoldBack