Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nishimura, Tokyo

Truly, my friends, you can't roller skate in a buffalo herd. But you can eat okonomiyaki for lunch any time if you try. Nishimura proves it.

This is a rarity, wouldn't you agree? What's even cooler about Nishimura is the food ethic they espouse - it manages to incorporate some elegance in both the space and the food. These aren't things one usually associates with okonomiyaki. I love how the counter looks like an upmarket izakaya, with a thick, rough-edged wooden top and matching light-wood chairs arranged at discrete distances from each other. It's really cool that the masters work in front of the patrons; there are two of them, one manning the teppan to cook okonomiyaki and related items, and another manning the takoyaki cooker. The masters look a little like they used to do this down-market, but are spruced up now with young (though still gray) haircuts, short beards, and tight t-shirts.

The food is also muscular, though thankfully less hairy. My okonomiyaki came with the holy trinity of table-fry junk-food ingredients: spicy mentaiko, chewy mochi, and cheese. The mentai and mochi were both in quantities one doesn't usually get (if one is used to getting these things in monja joints in Tsukiji), but the cheese was what pushed me over the edge - 36-month parmesan. (DOP Parma-Reg requires a minimum 12 months aging in case you were wondering. I was.) This added a new, exciting, and thoroughly awesome taste to the familiar egg, batter, fish flakes, etc. With this, I could eat okonomiyaki significantly more often. I shouldn't go on too long, but it's a really good idea.

After eating, I wandered past Da Cibo's Kitchen Street branch and remembered that I had had a strong craving for pizza earlier in the day. Ironic that I ended up eating Japanese pizza, I think. But a happy accident, and a place I'll be happy to go back to, as soon as I get through this damn restricted-dining period.

King o' the road, ma! Ooohhh, when will I learn to stop mixing these expressions?

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