Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tsurugi, Monzen Nakacho (鶴来)

I admit, I'm not sure if that's the right sound for the name. But it's a nice name regardless. Reminds me of Rio's wedding, where his grandmother sang a little of the traditional 'Crane and Tortoise' song as a sort of long-life blessing for the kids.

Tsurugi is in the line of restaurants going south from Wan Ju (the recommended tantanmen and general Chinese place on my side of the crossing, as opposed to Gomaya on the other side) - which includes that sorta stylish, young-looking 'dinning bar', the pork specialist izakaya Mahoboro, and...the dry cleaner. It also includes some substandard izakaya that I've been to without writing about or mapping, and let's leave them in peace.

Tsurugi is not substandard. It's quite fine. There were some interesting bits, some good cooking, and cheerful service from the master and waitress. I could recommend it for some variety after you had visited about 6 other places in the area, like Ogawa. In short, not a destination (which I maintain some of the places in Monnaka are, and which I recognize is a premise that pretty much...ohh, zero readers can get behind).

The specialty is food from Ishikawa prefecture. This includes Kanazawa, of course, and also the Noto penninsula, and at a stretch could probably encompass Toyama as well. But special foods? In Spring? Not sure. Crab in Winter is all that really springs to mind for me. But there was fish direct from Ishikawa (nodoguro, some other things), and the assorted sashi platter was pretty fresh. The interesting thing was raw cherry shrimp; never had that before. Mostly like chewing the shells, which are small enough to be not-too-hard, as the antennae, which are long and wispy and kinda tickle your tongue. Worth a try.

As for other foods: one gimmick is the country-style (or Kyoto style) bowls of food on the counter, like you'd find around the corner at Hanabishi. From these, EOITwJ ordered the bamboo shoots (fresh, sweet, good) and the lotus roots (still crunchy, topped with sesame, good) but there were also stewed pork belly (with scrambled eggs and vegetables. Hmm.), sweet chicken drumsticks, and various types of snails (small sazae; I don't know the names). A snapper jaw grilled up very nicely, and the beer and small sake selections flowed on request. Quite pleasant on the whole.

Very tsuru-tsuru.

In other news check out this place. Good evidence that, no matter how deep you delve into Tokyo, there's something else under the surface. This place looks like a lovely private house (except for the kappou sign, of course), but has no menu nor people coming or going. Ever. And the price is described as "Ohhh, $200 per person, give or take." I'm faintly tempted, but the food looks ordinary, and for that price one could plan ahead and visit, I dunno, Pierre Gagnaire in Omotesando.

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