Wolf: Hot pot of champions in Toranomon
Sumo champ Chiyonofuji—58th yokuzuna—knows his onions when it comes to power foods. To that end he opened this restaurant bearing his nom de guerre, bestowed owing to his piercing stare and solitary habits. Chiyonofuji’s success stemmed from his diet rich in high-protein, low-calorie suppon (softshell turtle) and fugu (blowfish)—and these are the menu’s staples at Wolf.
Past a mural of fellow champs’ handprints, we were escorted into a minimalist space decorated with pale beech furniture and flower arrangements. A small army of attentive staff delivered our celery salad (¥500), and fugu skin and mizuna salad (¥800), which paired nicely with nama Kirin Ichiban Shibori (¥700). Both salads were light with citrus zest, and the latter tingled our tongues in anticipation of the fugu feast to come.
The chawanmushi, a warm, savory egg custard with gingko nuts (¥800), had an intriguing bitterness that proved to emanate from the boiled turtle within. The fugu karaage, (¥1,580), was outstanding. The puffer fish is surprisingly bony, making this more like fried chicken, with a finger-lickin’ coating that would have made the Colonel proud.
But the centerpiece was the yakiniku-style fugu. We had the joumi (boneless) set (¥5,400), with slices seasoned in three ways: negi and salt, garlic, and spicy miso. Our server deftly grilled the slices at our table, letting them curl before flipping to briefly sear the other side. The fish on its own had a subtle succulence, and when paired with the right dipping sauce (lemon or shoyu), the flavor burst into life.
The suppon nabe was a different story. Ceremoniously presented in a medieval-style hot pot, there were no shrieks of “Oishi so!” like those of our neighbors. The powerful ginger-and-negi aroma conjured memories of home remedies, and in the dark liquid, lumps of turtle lurked menacingly. The chewy, dry meat called for an imo shochu on the rocks (¥700). More bone and cartilage than meat, we nibbled the suppon in small bites, masticating for an inordinate amount of time—like working on the driest, chewiest stewing beef you’d ever had. Turtle is a delicacy (and its blood—not served at Wolf—is a famous genki drink for men), but this dish left us softshell-shocked. It was a relief when the broth was ladled into bowls with rice, to eat sosui style.
Lest you think it’s all obscure dishes, Wolf also does dried sardines (¥600), tuna cutlets (¥1,100) and broiled chicken (¥1,200). We finished with fresh seasonal fruits (¥500) and a creamy yuzu sorbet (¥400) to freshen our tastebuds. While the suppon might have been traumatic—if unforgettable—the real star was the deep-fried and yakiniku-style grilled fugu, which makes a visit to Wolf worthwhile.