Saturday, January 10, 2009

Torafuku, Futako Tamagawa (寅福)

Hey, what a nice izakaya! I've been reading lately, on various bulletin boards, the posts from people who come to Japan for 'culinary adventure' trips. This means they try to eat at Sukiyabashi Jiro and Sushi Mizutani, Ryugin, and then branch out to Japanese soul food like ramen, izakaya, okonomiyaki, etc. There seems to be a certain set of people who recommend these places to them, so it's always certain ones (e.g. Ivan ramen, which is honestly no bad thing because he's reputed to be very serious about his food and also gets rated well in actual ramen publications, like the Ramen Walker 2009 Yearbook that I just bought). At Torafuku, I kept thinking "None of those people are ever going to come here, and it's too bad, because this is exactly what they should be eating!".

Located in the deep and imposing food floors of the Tamagawa Takashimaya center, Torafuku is a perfectly normal, cleanly-yet-traditionally-styled izakaya with a nice counter and big booths with plenty of space. It's quite airy compared to your downtown, Monnaka-style izakaya. We sat at the counter, on high chairs that were very stuffed and comfortable.

After the fish I ate on Thursday night (review later; it will take a while to think about the notes and photos I took through all 13 courses), I was eager to have something fresh and tasty. Note to self: 鰤 is the kanji for buri, and of course now is an excellent season for the little buggers. Another note to self and readers: I've just looked this up, and learned that buri is 'Japanese Amberjack', called hamachi when it's young and buri when it's older. Knew it was something like that, but could never get it quite right!

I ate the buri. I almost cried. While too fatty for some at the counter, it was the best piece of buri I had eaten all day. I was transported with delight throughout the other 4 slices that I got to eat from that plate, and seriously considered another one.

Other dishes: root vegetable kinpira - sooo nicely boiled! Balanced flavor!; cucumber macaroni salad - again, I almost cried because this was so fresh and comforting (aside from being quite summery); wagyu steak tips, served on a delightfully caramelized onion slice with crisp garlic chips and condiments of wasabi, mustard, yuzukoshou, moromimiso and oroshi ponzu; ankimo ponzu (again, reminding myself what normal stuff tastes like after Thursday night) - just normal.

It was a long week, and I'm afraid I gobbled it up kinda quickly. But felt great after due to both the quality and the comfort-food nature of it. The menu also includes a section of meshi, which may well be a house specialty given the traditional-style hearth with rice cookers that they have up by the front. This would be a recommended destination if it wasn't so far from home for me.

Nothing to do with 虎河豚, but everything to do with 寅ちゃん.

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