Friday, April 30, 2010

Mimasuya, Kanda (みますや)

There's no way you can not love a neighborhood institution, especially when it's been going since Meiji 38 (1906, methinks), and especially when the neighborhood is Kanda? Even the most casual reader should know how fond I am of Kanda as a lunch destination; it's something about the way just enough glimpses of the area's former merchant purpose remain among the 4-5 story buildings that house lower-level companies. Too bad it's a hassle for dinner (or at least I say it is).

But the point here is that you have to love old places like this. Bare concrete floor, tiny woven stools, communal tables, years of careful scrubbing that have given everything a certain semi-dirty glow, a certain dark coolness in the's nice, isn't it? It would be better if this camera didn't suck. You don't find many old places like this in America. And that's funny because the Japanese really do have a mania not just for redecorating but for tearing down whole buildings and starting over. But some of these places, even when they're not so well-built, persist. Stubbornness, probably. In a good way.

The game for lunch is that you can choose a main dish and a side dish from the buffet, then you get your rice, soup and pickles, and it's Y750. You can pay a little more if you want 2 side dishes. I won't rhapsodize about the quality or anything; it's pre-cooked and sitting out on a table, even the fried and grilled stuff.  Despite being pre-cooked, it's not as blurry as it looks here.

And then you take your lunch wherever you want, and you eat it. No problems squeezing in, that's for sure. The majority of seats are zashiki; hard to imagine that people willingly take off their shoes and sit on the floor, but they're all wearing loafers, and it's what they're used to. This guy certainly had no reservations.

I would say this was a fail except that the unohana (the side dish) was really deeply-flavored, and the rice was very fresh. Getting cold fried chicken was a really poor idea. The fact that I thought it was going to be cold fried oysters since that was on the sign outside still doesn't explain why it seemed like a good idea at the time. Oh well.

Some of you will no doubt be wondering about the evening offerings; while I didn't see horse stew presented as a popular menu item, there were a fair few sake brands written on slips of paper on the walls. In addition to very normal stuff like Shirataka and Hakkaisan, I noted Taka and Dassai. Dassai is really making a push this year, aren't they? Just int he last few months, their sake is everywhere in a very noticeable way. Good thing it's a good sake!

Class? We don't need no stinkin' class.

As an afterthought (and my after-lunch activity), you will no doubt be pleased to learn that I am cavity-free after another 8 months, and the hygenist even commented that I brush very competently. I think having a toothbrush in the office has made a lot of the difference, but thanks for the pointers also.

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