Sunday, August 16, 2009

Southern Dining, Yoga

After getting off the train in Sakura Shinmachi to look for a place to eat lunch, I have the following observation: the best thing to do is to start walking, and don't stop until you get to Yoga. Yoga is a pleasant and leafy suburb in the (to me) Far West of Tokyo. Other people would say that I live in the Far East, and that the Far West doesn't start for an hour past Yoga, but it's those little differences of opinion that make life so interesting. Sunday was brutally hot on the street, and we walked up and down a bunch of central Yoga byways. We were continually tantalized and cruelly disappointed by the plethora of alternately quaint and stylish places that were both open and had boards outside saying 'Menu' - they're ALL hair salons. It's a pretty safe bet that if you see a place that looks like a cafe with terrific atmosphere and maybe good food in Japan, it's a hair salon.

Southern Dining looked a lot like a hair salon but was blissfully food-purveying, and open, and with free tables. It has a sort of blue-and-yellow theme, and I want to say it's faintly nautical but I don't know why. In addition, the music on the overheads seemed to be Southern All-Stars throughout, so maybe it's a theme place. They have only two other stores.

The weirdest thing was how tasty it was. The 'petite course' lunch started off with a dull salad and a mediocre cup of hot soup, then got pretty good with this (store?) smoked duck. I think they did it themselves because you don't usually get thick fat like this on a commercial smoked duck, but it was soft and tasty in any case, and I liked the light pink color and mustard sauce.

This snapper was excellent, and you can't even see the big piece of snapper due to the fresh shellfish nuggets gettin' all busy on top of it. And the potato. Seriously, the mussels were extremely plump and fresh the clams and shrimp good but less notably so. The snapper was maybe stewed in the oily, rich tomato sauce, and as a result it was flaky, moist and snapp-a-licious. A-rific.

There are only so many adjectives one can use to describe pieces of fish, or in fact dishes, over and over again. The pictures tell the story, as does the overall 'it was good' rating. This was an extremely nice surprise, situated in an otherwise fairly quiet area dining-wise and being of a type that I don't generally expect to deliver a whole lot.

Tastes even better in Downward Dog.

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