Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Izuro, Monzen Nakacho (いづろ)

Know what kind of restaurant I like best? The kind that's simple, fun, cheap and yet still blows you away on taste. Despite any evidence to the contrary, I maintain that the flavor's the thing, and the main reason why I go to higher-end restaurants is that the chances of tastiness are a bit better. In these days of calorie-counting and expanding waistlines, it behooves a modern gentleman to choose his gluttony with a bit of care and discretion.

Lest we diverge too far into a wood, I'll just get all grounded and tell you that Izuro is near Monnaka crossing, on the east-side street just south of Eitai. That street is a little quiet, but has two other places (the kushi place with the slanted red front, and the Ichinoya branch Jonetsuya, which I'm sympathetic to because it's only a 'chain' of 4 shops, two in Monnaka, but disinterested in because the menu is heavy on 'cream cheese nigiri' and pizza) and the imposing, slightly Spanish, faintly menacing Bar C, whch I'm pleased to note has a higher Tabelog score than the dreaded Opa. I digress.

So this has all the appurtenances of cheap, homey, and potentially tasty food, with a focus on Satsuma cooking. What's that? I still wasn't sure after eating there, minus the obvious - satsuma age (more or less a deep-fried fishcake that you can get in every izakaya, guaranteed, or else I'll refund all your subscription fees to this site) and kibinago, which got its own section on the menu and turned out to be basically shishamo (which turns out to be sorta like anchovies, just little silver fish that are eaten every which way). These were served as sashimi, or grilled, or fried, or one other way (dunno, live?), and the fried version (least confronting, I thought) was fine if you like little whole fish battered and fried to a turn, with mayonnaise on the side for dipping. Also sampled a deeply ordinary satsuma age, and at that point decided there wasn't much value in going on with the venture.

The web site linked above makes Satsuma cooking look a little more interesting. It's funny to me that one of the mainstays is chicken tataki (which was on the menu) - funny because it's basically raw chicken, and you know how that plays in America. And eating a kinda nondescript ingredient like kibinago in tons of different ways (including the charming sashimi platter on that link - like someone has fileted and carefully arranged 100 anchovies!) also smacks of desperation (not as bad, however, as the prefectures that list their specialites as rice and soba). But the sake-sushi thing looks nice, and anyway I'd be happy to go to the source to experience it, just because it's a good countryside location.


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