Thursday, July 2, 2009

Kame, Monzen Nakacho (亀)

It takes all kinds - and the kind on display here is 'stew and wine' or 'frypan bar', depending on which sign you read. Funny thing is, this place is worthwhile!

'Two guys and some pans' could be another good tag line, or maybe 'Japan's cheapest wine bar'. This is very respectable - the wine list runs to 75 bottle or more, and despite the Opus One crate outside everything is under Y4000, with many bottles in the Y2000's. Of course this means that if you want Australian wine (for example) you'll be drinking Yellowtail or Rosemount at a markup, but the markups are pretty sensible. This is still Japan, and a restaurant, so one does have to pay for the privilege of getting pickled in public. I like the floor-to-ceiling racks of emptied cheap wine bottles, and I equally like the 8 available glass wines at around Y800. This is all very sensible.

The food is written on 4 or 5 little chalkboards above the bar where the chef and server reside. There's a page of pastas (meat sauce, sausage, squid ink...), a bunch of nibbley items (sliced domestic ham, fatty and flavorful; anchovies and paprika, sweet but not good), assorted prepared foodss (vegetable terrine, a little bland but pretty and not filled out too much with jelly; salmon/avacado tartare, really good on both counts) and only a few of the exteriorly-advertised nikomi's and fry pans (beef tendon, cooked real real soft and sweet, but without a lot of residual meat to break up the sticky, gelatinous texture of the main ingredient).

Actually they seemed a little embarrassed that there were so few stews on the menu; I saw only the one, but the waiter counted three (without enumerating). Many things come with pink pepper on top, which I could use as a point to criticize the chef's aspirations if I didn't feel so charitable about all the other reasonable, sensible aspects of this fine establishent.

Well worth a visit on a Wednesday night!

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