Pulled pork with home-made barbecue sauce, washed down with a cold class of freshly-brewed beer – sound like a magical combination? Get it while you can as one of Tokyo’s budding craft meat institutions, Magical Animal, is about to be closed down due to an unforeseen land sale.
Based in the funky, outdoor dining box PopUp@Aoyama, Magical Animal’s American-style, slow-cooked and lovingly hand-made craft meats have been attracting the attention of Tokyo foodies for 3 months now but they’re about to be forced out, along with their two neighbors, as the owner sells the land to fulfill its true function as an overpriced car-park for three.
Currently, Magical Animal offers its delicious range of hotdogs, sandwiches, burgers and smoked otsumami from one of the three shipping containers that make up the tiny, urban-cool strip of food and drinks startups just around the corner from ritzy Ometesando Avenue.
Next door, there’s Irokara, selling gourmet karaage, and at the entrance you’ll find the Brimmer Beer Box which has craft beer on tap from the main Kawasaki brewery. Tables and chairs are laid out along the scaffolding built around the crates, and there’s upstairs seating from where you can spy on the shoppers below.
With a menu that will make you question the sanity of vegetarians everywhere, Magical Animal is all about making meat authentic– every sausage, patty and filling is made from scratch, beef is ground by hand and the sausages are minced from original Magical Animal recipes.
Each day, chef and owner Jeremy Wilgus, puts up a selection of different hand-made sausages which you can try in classic hot dog form or on its own. We tried the pulled pork sandwich, classic bratwurst and Italian sausage hotdogs which all came with spiced fries to catch the tears of joy from our meat-filled faces.
Jeremy has always been interested in cooking craft meats. While working as a teacher in Chiba, he started making his own bacon and bringing it to friends’ barbecues, who then encouraged him to create his own menu. Soon he was offering his brand of home-crafted meats to more and more customers at a local bar, but the turning point came when he met another entrepreneur, Scott Brimmer, brew master and director of Brimmer Brewing.
‘I was at the Yokohama Craft Beer Festival and I’d brought some smoked almonds I’d made for something to munch on. I ended up giving some out to the staff at the Brimmer Brewing stand.
Later they called me back and introduced me to Scott and we got talking. He helped me set-up at PopUp@Aoyama and the rest is history!’ Luckily for us, Magical Animal is planning to work with the people from the Beer Box to open up a craft beer and meats joint in Tokyo. They’re right now looking for a new location in Tokyo so keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates.
Meanwhile, PopUp@Aoyama will be closing down next weekend so head there before then to get your fix of Magical Animal’s awesome meats – they’ll be serving food until Saturday. Enjoy!
4 minutes from Ometesando station exit A4. Cross the big junction and head left down the street. PopUp@Aoyama is opposite Brooks Brothers. Try 3-8-34 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo in Google maps if you get lost.