Posts Tagged ‘ izakaya ’

Foodie II

This month I’m just posting food- and restaurant-related pics.  And, today, vids.  Enjoy and Itadakimasu・いただきます (roughly:  “Thanks for what I’m about to receive…”).


This is a young, restaurant (izakaya)-owning couple in Kyoto.  Yumi-san and Hiroshi-san.  I was there with a friend on a slow night back in early November 2009.  The restaurant, Dai Kichi Yakitori, is actually a franchise, a chain.  This one’s on Shirakawa Dori.  Almost across from the bus station there.  Anyway, I dropped back in a few months ago, and, alas, it was under new ownership/management.

Yumi & Hiroshi. At their Dai Kichi Yakitori place. November 2009.


When this melodrama-drenched enka blasted from the speakers I thought it would make a good soundtrack for a quick, 30 second vid tour of Yumi & Hiroshi’s place.  So here you go:


This past August I was in Japan on business for a little more than two weeks.   The next couple of short vids were shot during that trip.   In Japan (and in larger cities around the world) there’s are these sort of low-end, or family-oriented, sushi restaurants called Kaiten-zushi, or Conveyor Belt Sushi.  They’re good enough, inexpensive and, well, kind of fun.  I shot this little vid while treating my client (company president and vice president having their first trip to Japan and first Kaiten-zushi experience) to lunch (they got quite a kick out of the experience):


Gyoza‘s (餃子) some of my favorite food in Japan.  I make it pretty well myself, actually.  These are the Japanese version of Chinese dumplings or “pot stickers.”  I don’t like the Chinese kind so much, at least the ones typically served in restaurants — they’re too sweet. Gyoza shouldn’t be sweet.  In Japan you find gyoza tandem’d with ramen at small, informal “Chinese” restaurants called “Chuka” (Chooka).  Gyoza’s either seared on a griddle, or steamed, or seared with water added to semi-steam them.  Some places have gyoza steaming contraptions, like the little working-class place I ambled into one August night in Kyoto, right off of Kiyamachi-dori:


We’ll wind up today with this one, this vid that I’ve also posted in my Tsukiji (fish) Market Gallery.  These are, well, eels:


Speaking of eels, do any of you know the group “The Eels?”  A great band.  It’s Mark Everett‘s group.  Mark used to perform just as “e.”  He’s a great musician.  Anyway, Mark and I lived in the same neighborhood when we were kids in Northern Virginia.  We’re the same age and went to Spring Hill Elementary and Cooper Jr. High together.  I think we were in the same Cub Scout Den, but my memory’s kind of fuzzy on that.  My family moved to the Very Deep South when I was 13, so I lost touch with Mark.  Anyway, I’m just proud to know he’s doing so well.  My brush with music greatness.


Foodie. おいしい料理!

I’ve had, and will be having, a particularly busy November (and likely December, too).  This means I won’t be able to post any particularly in-depth pieces here on the front page.  But November is Thanksgiving Month in the U.S. and gives me the perfect excuse to post a series of very short pieces on food and food-related joys and oddities I’ve come across in Japan.


I’m sorry, but this is just. not. right. ->

Surin Thai. Crestwood Village, B'ham, Ala, November 2011.

Mind you, I’m no food snob. Mixing and matching cuisines from various cultures is a good thing.  I admire and enjoy and make many cross-cultural dishes (and will probably do an entire post on that someday) and am all for experimentation.  But “BLAT” just ain’t right.  By the way, I particularly like Surin’s chicken noodle bowl.

Over the past two-and-a-half years I’ve posted more than a few food-related pieces here at Including pieces and photo essays on Izakaya and the restaurant Okariba and, recently, the coffee shop Hanafusa.  Restaurant-hopping in Kyoto is front-and-center of my story, “A Night in Kyoto. ”  I’m going to devote this whole month, though, to Foodie Things in Japan.  Mainly just a photo here or there from this past July and August, when I was in Japan for a couple of weeks.  Along with a comment or two about where I was or what I was eating.

This is right ->

Zaru-soba. A Kyoto specialty. Ground floor, Kyoto Station. Aug 2011.

Zaru-soba (ざるそば) — cold buckwheat noodles served with a “dipping sauce” the diner spices up to taste, is a cold  — and in the painfully hot summertime, refreshing and light — Kyoto specialty.  A bonus for those living abroad, that is, not in Japan:  the noodles and sauce and little onions and radish are fairly easy to obtain in Asian/Japanese grocery stores around the world.  So one can make and enjoy a decent approximation of the real deal all over the world.

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Some Great Japan Blogs

If this one, the one you’re on and reading now, leaves you thinking there ought to more or better ones out there (although I really, really try to provide a variety of topics, subjects, issues), know that, indeed, there are.  Here are some of my favorites (also found on this site’s Blogroll, over on the right hand side of this page):

*   IN PRAISE OF IZAKAYA*  – Ramble round Tokyo, taking in cool watering holes, food, jazz.

*   BUDGET TROUBLE – Japan fests & photos (a Lonely Planet featured blogger).

*   CHOKOCHOKO –  A premier Japanese language e-zine.  Very fun.

*   FUJI MEETS THE MATTERHORNSwiss in Japan.  Commentary, insights, etc.

*   STEVE SAYS KAMPAI! – a Brit who’s (understandably) nuts about the Hanshin Tigers.

*    LOCO IN YOKOHAMA – provocative, fun, irreverent.

*   TOKYO 5 – Living in Tokyo with his wife & 3 teens.

At Daisho-in, Miyajima. Just off the coast from Hiroshima. 2008.

This list isn’t exhaustive.  Lots more over to the right side of the page, blogs and other sites.  Check them all out and feel free to send in any that you think should go on the roll.


*I’ve got to self-promote this one of mine on Izakaya.  And, of course, feel free to navigate around this site, too.


Small world.

If both you and I visit Washington, DC, even if our respective visits are two years apart, it would not be so odd for us to both have photos of the Lincoln Memorial in our photo albums or digital archives.  Same with the Spanish Steps in Rome or the Gateway of India in Mumbai.  But what about a tiny, tiny, little restaurant in sprawling Tokyo, a city of almost 13 million people (and, seemingly, about as many restaurants)?

Yesterday on one of my LinkedIn Japan-related groups I noticed that “Robert” in the UK had posted a comment saying that he and his wife would soon be traveling (back) to Tokyo and Kyoto; he asked for any suggestions on cool places to check out.  Regarding Kyoto, I responded with a laundry list of restaurants, a coffee shop, a particular temple and the National Museum of Modern Art.  As for Tokyo, my only suggestion was to visit the “gahdoshita” (gah*doh*shee*tah), little, very informal, working class restaurants under several different viaduct arches of the Yamanote train line.  Besides many kind thank yous, Robert said that he thought year or so ago when he and his wife had first visited Japan they may have passed by the “gahdoshita.”  Well, it turns out he was right at ’em, though not the particular ones that are my favorites.  Nevertheless, he sent me this photo yesterday with this message:

“Re:  the Gahdoshita restaurants.  I think we may have walked past them last time we were in Tokyo on the way home one evening.  I took a photo, is this the place?”

Robert's photo from 2009.


This was a photo I took, just a snapshot really, in October 2007:

My photo from 2007.

O.K., it’s not the exact same place, but it’s the same little franchise and within a block or two of one another.  But one had caught my eye, then two years later, Robert’s eye.

The name is “Manpuku Shokudo” which, roughly translated, means “All full (on food) Eats.”  Tiny little “mom and pop” franchises like this dot Japan, sometimes the same franchise will have 2 or 3 restaurants within a few blocks, a la Starbucks.  It’s not Tokyo Tower, Osaka Tower, Hiroshima Peace Park, the Washington Monument, the Eiffel Tower or the Great Wall.  Just a couple of tiny little restaurants within a couple blocks of one another that an American, then 2 years later a Brit, thought they’d take snapshots of.


A Few Favorite Posts You May Have Missed…


In order to see older Home Page posts (from, say, a couple of months ago, or last summer) one would have to go to the bottom of this page, click on the “Older Entries” tab to the bottom and left, then scroll down that previous “Home Page,” then repeat the process again and again.  A hassle of sorts.  So in order to bring some of those older pages to you, I’m posting their links right here.

After Work:  いざかや、ガード下、赤提灯(from early last September) discusses my favorite kinds of little, hole-in-the-wall restaurants and watering holes.  These are some of the best kinds of places to eat and while away time with friends no matter where in the world one is.

Izakaya in Kyoto, “Pontocho.”


Dear, Beautiful Kyoto (from early last August).  A little homage to a place that’s wafted into and out of my life (or my life has drifted into and out of Kyoto) since the fall of 1984.

Near Kyoto University, looking East towards Shinnyo-do Temple. 2009.


And here’s one about “kotowaza” (wise sayings/proverbs):  Spring Trips / C’est la Soul Sonic Boogie.   And here are Five Favorite Post from 2011.


One more:  this one’s just a couple months old, but it surprisingly didn’t get as many “hits” and looks and so forth that I thought it would, and deserved:  “Regain, Chibi Maruko-chan and (in retrospect) Simpler Times.”   If you don’t check out the Regain and other vids (one of them below), you’re really missing out.


I’ll do this again from time to time, bring forward former, fun posts.  Enjoy.


After work : いざかや, ガード下, 赤堤灯。

A couple of friends are heading to Japan next month.  Their first trip.  I have some great restaurants and other places to recommend in Tokyo and Kyoto.  All sorts of cuisines and price ranges.  All in all, though, my favorite restaurants are the low key, working stiff, cheap, grilled chicken-on-a-stick-type joints.  You who travel around know that these are really the best places.

Most commonly, these cozy, friendly, local holes-in-the-wall are called “izakaya” and sometimes “akachochin” (“aka“/red + “chochin“/lanterns with whatever the specialty of the house is shine and advertise out front).  In Tokyo, behind the shockingly expensive Imperial Hotel, in Chiyoda Ward near Yurakucho Station, there are a series of pedestrian tunnels under an elevated section of the Yamanote train line.  Jammed into these tunnels are numerous akachochin, called “gahdoshita“, literally “under the overpass” restaurants.  Pictured above is one of them I frequented over the course of five or so days in Tokyo, almost two years ago to date.  That fellow in the foreground to the right is one of the cooks, taking a photo of some *Japanese* tourists . . . just out-of-frame to the left.

Yakitori with plenty of bainiku, shisomaki, gyuuroso, little grilled shishitou . . . and draft beer.  This is all good and simple and delicious and inexpensive fare.  I’ll be referring my friends — and in May taking a group of MBA students — to these kind of places, as well as to the more “refined” restaurants.  Count on that.

Motsuyaki "gahdoshita".  Under the Yamanote Line.  Tokyo.  2007.

Motsuyaki “gahdoshita”. Under the Yamanote Line. Tokyo. 2007.


Friends after work at an akachochin.  Tokyo. October 2007.

Friends after work at an akachochin. Tokyo. October 2007.


Friends at an akachochin in Kyoto.  2007.  That's the cook/owner in the background.

Friends at an akachochin in Kyoto. 2007. That’s the cook/owner in the background.


Izakaya, late afternoon before the evening rush.  Ueno, Tokyo. April 2008.

Izakaya, late afternoon before the evening rush. Ueno, Tokyo. April 2008.

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A few more photos from more recent times:

Harumi-ya. A great hole-in-the-wall. San-jo Street. Kyoto. 2011.


A friend’s mom looks on as another round’s poured. Ichi-ban Yakitori. Kyoto. 2011.


Fantastic sake bar (with owner, his granddaughter), Kiyamachi-dori. Kyoto. 2011.