Thursday, September 24, 2009

Minatoya, Kanda (みなと屋)

You knew this week had three holidays in it, right? That's why there haven't been any boring lunches until this one (and presumably Friday's also).

Kanda is really a habit with me. I just like the 10-15 minute walk up there and then the feeling that I'm somewhere else in Japan. It's kinda peaceful and old. You should try it. The funny thing is how many places there are to eat. I haven't even tapped the restaurants under the tracks to an appreciable degree, nor all the places right around the station. Yesterday I realized that there were 4 OK-looking places in a row on the main east-side street, and I went to the first of them to get started on knocking that off.

So, Minatoya. Sounds like a fourth Jackson sister, now that I think of it (it's not commonly known, but Janet and LaToya have a third sister, Rebbie). This Minatoya is even more reticent about being in the spotlight than Rebbie - it's quite basic inside and out. I thought it was interesting to see style cues from better izakaya (wooden counter, prominently displayed plates) but with down-grade touches (covered with thick laquer, displayed on a wire rack instead of a wooden cabinet).

The food was pretty good though. The daily set was a 'karaage combo', which included both fried tofu and fried chicken. As befits a salaryman neighborhood, there was a lot of meat - I think 6 pieces of chicken, each much bigger than two bites. They were fried very dark and set in a pool of dashi, next to the fried tofu, then covered with grated daikon. Grated daikon cuts the fat and makes it all healthy, y'know.

I enjoyed the service as well. Some shops have a call-and-response policy - for example, you're probably familiar with the way a new customer's entry will trigger a flurry of greetings from around a store. The best one recently was that Kanzan Ramen on the west-side shotengai, where they practically did a little dance together every time someone's noodles were cooked. At Minatoya, whenever there was an order or instruction, one person would announce it and the others would say 'Yo!'

Tolerable place. Yo!

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