Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mishima, Kichijoji

Not to be confused with the other Kichijoji Mishima (美しま), a kaiseki restaurant, this Mishima offers a variety of semi-Spanish food, stick-roasted items, cheap wine, laid-back service, and a general good-time atmosphere. The small inside area, practically hidden behind the bar, is sorta modern and a little clubby; the outdoor tables are glass-and-steel; there's a pig leg on the bar. It's a modern Japanese mix of styles, and occupies a nice location just at the top of the stairs leading down into Inokashira Park. (N.B. the yakitori place across the street, Iseya, is completely retro and cool. Plywood tables, bare floor, general dishevelment, lots of grill smoke. Looks great! As does the gelato place with all the cats roaming around!).

Along with Shaft and her husband, we powered through a heap of little plates that were all pretty good. Grilled pumpkin with rosemary, one of the day's special vegetables. Smoked liver, smokey but not that liverish. Grilled Spanish pork, a very good example of how pork belly should be grilled - dripping with fat and flavor, but not toughened at all.

Daily-special fish, a Madai carpaccio with olive oil. Naan, weird. Squid cooked in garlic oil, not bad but not as good as Friday night at Banyuls, and only 4 pieces. Better to have more smaller pieces, doncha think?

Lamb chops. Maybe popular; we saw these on the menu and said we wanted to eat them later, so the waiter made a big show of calling over to the bar to keep some for us. And they were terrific! We Love Our Lamb, and these were appropriately strong without excess lambiness, and again juicy and flavorful. Fish and Chips were surprisingly good; nice mild fish, perfectly fried. The fries, paradoxically, were pretty average.

There's also a decent menu of cheap wines (I mean drinkable, enjoyable, hot-weather wine that's $25 or less in a restaurant. There's no reason why every restaurant can't do this, it's just that, well, why not serve $50 wines and double the profit margin?) and quite a few beers including all colors of Chimay, with White available in bottles or on draft. And I enjoyed the service - a laid back, aging-surfer sorta fellow who was pretty on top of the food (he rejected my order for the chick pea salad that I had seen earlier on the grounds that "Today's version is too salty." After more drinks we insisted. He brought us a small dish on the house. It was too salty.).

Oddly, we ran into someone that we knew on the way out (more like, someone ran after us and claimed to know us!). He said he lived fairly close, and it was becoming his regular casual dinner place. I can see how that would happen if you lived around here, on the quiet side of town.

Right on, duder.

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