Hungry Hinch

Outback Steakhouse Tokyo, Japan

Heart attack on a plate Photo Courtesy of:
Matters criminal have been on my mind in Tokyo recently.  I was working on an assignment for a Sunday Night story but waiting for a call to summons me back to Australia for sentencing on a contempt of court charge.

But then something criminal happened in Tokyo.

You know Japanese food is my preferred cuisine.  Shabu Shabu is a favourite dish – the only time I eat red meat – and when I was recovering from a liver transplant, the year-long ban on sashimi was one of the toughest deprivations.

The crime in Tokyo?  I was hanging out for some authentic sushi and sashimi but the camera crew were California-based.  Cameraman Leigh Hubner is an Australian based in LA and soundman Dustin Eddo is an American who lives in San Diego.

They had heard of an international chain of restaurants with an Australian flavour that started in California.  Couldn’t wait to dine at the Outback Steakhouse.

Couldn’t wait for some genuine Aussie tucker. Yeah, right.

So my first dining experience on my first visit to Tokyo was far cry from anything Japanese.

The huge basement restaurant was packed with local diners obviously keen to share the same Outback experience.

There were boomerangs and a couple of didgeridoos hanging on the walls and postcard-style pictures.  The theme was a bit corrupted because of Hallowe’en approaching. A few smiling American pumpkin faces and witches’ hats.

And that American influence flooded the menu, despite desperate --and corny –attempts to sound roolly Orstrylian.

A Bloomin’ Burger, an Outbacker Burger, A Toowoomba Topped fillet steak, and ‘Kookaburra wings with secret spices’.  Why not?  In the US they call the same spiced chicken ‘Buffalo Wings’.

I was fascinated by a picture of what was called a ‘Blooming’ onion original signature appetiser’ and described as a ‘giant, hand-carved onion deep-fried’.  And there it was, cubed mango-style, and deep-fried.  A heart attack on a plate.

There were ‘popcorn shrimp’ (not prawns) and they were spicy and tasty.  A generous proportion. And ‘baby back ribs with tangy BBQ sauce’.

What made me think this chain was started by an American?

Especially when I saw a side dish called Aussie cheese fries topped with ‘melted Monterey Jack’ cheese.  How authentically Australian can you get?

A dessert, which was huge but tasted pretty good, was called Chocolate Thunder from Down Under.  Tropology Oz. ‘Fresh-baked pecan cookie with rich vanilla ice cream and warm chocolate sauce’.  Pecan ? Cookie?

The same copywriter responsible for that probably also wrote about the ‘New South Wales sangria.  A NSW cabernet with brandy for a Caribbean sangria’.  And all that time, I thought it came from Spain.

Boy, does that camera crew owe me big time. Konichiwa.


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