Sunday, August 3, 2008

Issui (一穂), Monzennakacho

Is there anything better than a good izkaya? Well of course there is! Lots of things.
Don't be silly. But this place is definitely a good izakaya, which I would summarize
with the 3 F's - friendly, fun, and fussy about food. I guess that's 4, but I just
made it up.

Issui is close to my place, in a little strip of restaurants that's otherwise in a
sorta dead zone between Monzennakacho and Kiba. There's the chicken-specialist place
with ji-beer and the really slow, grumpy master, there's the ramen place, and the
hair salon. I don't recommend eating there. But strangely, I never managed to go
before (in just under 4 years of living 2 minutes away). Two reasons: it's past my
place if you're coming from the station (heavens! But just that little extra impetus
not to go.) and it's frequently full. Last night was kind empty, and I jumped in.

I like friendly staff. It's cool when the waitress asks you where you're from and
all like that. I haven't gotten tired of it yet. The bit of banter between the
waitress and two chefs over my head was very endearing. Talking about the upcoming
festival was fun too, but I'm still not springing for a jacket and suffering through
hours of punishing sun, heavy omikoshi, and drenching water. There's always a balance
of professionality and friendliness (and perhaps regular human courtesy), and I'm
not fixated on the perfect balance, as long as there's some of each.

What I REALLY like, though, is tasty food. And this place has got it. The hand-written
menu had me kinda depressed until I realized it was just the specials - three kinds of
eel dishes? Right, it's summer and we all need more power. I had the eel-and-cucumber
-in-vinegar (uzaku) and liked it. The fish in the cooler wasn't that good-looking
(like it was sitting for a while and was kinda dull) but once sliced it was shiny,
fresh and tasty (scallop and snapper. They also had hamo; I don't know about you,
but I don't get the attraction.). I rounded things off with some buta kakuni, which
was eeexcellent. Made me wish I was there with a group of people so I could try
half of the menu! It's interesting, because the menu is very 'jokey' - names for
different sets of sushi, little jokes about how great things are…you can see it on
the web site too. Their slogan is 'らしい男のらしい店' - is it just me, or should I
read that as 'Real restaurant for real men'? But the food was clearly very serious.
I'll go back any time. Any time they're not full...

一穂, らしい男のらしい店 03-3643-2255

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