Thursday, March 11, 2010

Yamahei, Monzennakacho (酒蔵 や満平)

Documented fact - Don Henley's Building the Perfect Beast is a great album. In addition to being a veritable catalog of 80's effects (the constant use of FM synthesizers, one would imagine DX-7's?; the gating on the snares (or at least the quick release times on the envelopes of the snare samples!); the washy reverb), it's packed with great songs. Of course Boys of Summer is one of the best songs ever (really), and All She Wants to Do Is Dance is funny, witty and weird, but even the country-themed weeper Month of Sundays, whose maudlin lost-the-farm-to-the-bank sentimentality should irritate me, is moving. Already 25 years old, the production style has probably moved from sounding dated into sounding timeless. As a final recommendation, there's none of the shallowness that characterizes much of the Eagles' best work.

All of this has nothing to do with Yamahei, where I stopped in on the way home from work just to see what was behind the 'Sake Warehouse' sign that I've been seeing for years. Turns out that there's cheap but good sake, and reasonable food. Who woulda thought?

This was as murky in the bowl as it was in this picture, but it's a sweet soy-based jelly with mushrooms in it. Think 'Japanese Jello'. With mustard.

I include a quick shot of a drinking glass so you can see what their amusing policy on pouring is. Put a glass in a masu, then pour over the top until they're both full. You can see the sake forming a meniscus (and this review is mainly to allow to me write 'meniscus') and spilling onto the rim of the masu. Since the table was unsteady, I ended up knocking it with my foot and losing much of this excess. Argh. The selection includes low-end labels from Hakkaisan (of course), Shimeharitsuru and Kokuryu, but I branched out with a Suigei (酔鯨, which I think I:ve had before. You'd think it would be easier to remember something called 'drunken whale'.). I recommend it - it's reasonably-priced, but very clean and crisp (at least this tokubetsu junmai was).

Fishes abound, at low prices and in low quality. Left was one of the daily specials, tabiuo (scabbard fish?), right a pickled mackerel. At half the price of many places, or less than 1/3rd of Ranman, you can't complain too much about quality.

Being a weeknight dinner, it's a daikon salad. With some kind of mentaiko dressing.

And some grilled salmon belly.

Just another night in paradise.

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