From the moment you remove your shoes to walk on the tatami mats to the moment you eat your final morsel of supple crabmeat, Kitafuku is an exhilarating experience. A meal lasts at least two hours, which is the minimum time necessary for a live king crab (typically around 4-5kg) to be deshelled, systematically dismantled – leg by leg, claw by claw – and feasted upon having been prepared in various ways: boiled, charcoal-grilled and sashimi. If you’re squeamish, be warned: you’ll see your dinner alive moments before you eat it.
Kitafuku’s ceremonial crab-feasting begins with sashimi for obvious reasons; the chefs, who are sent to Hokkaido to master the art of slicing and snapping jumbo-sized crustaceans, break off the crab’s legs and place them in iced water to be served raw. The rest of the crab is boiled or charcoal grilled, its meat to be eaten at various stages of the cooking process so guests can experience the gradual adjustment of texture and flavour. The little touches at Kitafuku are wow-inducing: magnificent ceramic plates complete with crab illustrations, beautiful decorative calligraphy on the charcoal grill; a coup de théâtre that takes places when the chef introduces the most coveted piece of crab on the table – the heart. A meal at Kitafuku doesn’t come cheap – and if you’re not a big fan of crab, don’t even think about it – but it’s worth every yen for a unique and spectacular evening out.