Saturday, April 17, 2010

Yataichi, Kashiwa (やたいち、柏)

Quirky is pretty much always good in Japan, especially when the quirk focuses on food and drinks. I wasn't sure about Yataichi based on what I could see on the interwebz, but it's a real winner in person.

The quirk starts with the door, which is no more than 4 feet high and will have even the smallest among you bending double to get in. So simple, so humble...I kid, but in this case the small door is most likely a reference to the tea-house trick of making people bend over to get in to remind us that even the greatest people must bow sometimes, i.e., should be humble all the time. And you can't see an exterior like this and expect to find anything other than a great place inside, can you? Right?

It's all light wood and cleanliness, which is funny, because it's kind of an 'oden kappou'. The decor would be more appropriate for a sushi place. These shochu bottles are, of course, very in keeping with the oden theme.

Fortunately the kappou side of the house meets up with the sake focus. The master heard me out ('light, clean, fragrant', the usual) and came up with this guy from Saga, I think the tokubetsu junmai from Nogomi. It was heavier than I generally prefer, which he knew before he served it, because he asked if it was too heavy. Actually, I think this would be good with oden since it had a little of that honjouzou richness.

Starter, a simple block of tofu. Good though. Kinda sets the tone here - normal-looking food of high quality with very good cooking. The cooking (and most everything else) is done by a young, stylish-yet-solid guy with spiked hair but a big towel wrapped around his forehead. He cooks on a couple tiny burners and has a Salamander in addition to the oden pot, and as usual with places like that, everything comes out real, real well.

A paddle of fukimiso; I didn't feel like going crazy on food since we wanted to try another place that looked great on the web, and this was a good nibble with the sake. Must try making this at home since I've got so much fukimiso (Norio, this would be another good home-grilling project...if you could get fukinotou in DC. Grow your own?)

A satsuma-age, clearly made in-house because it was so quirky - packed with ground sardine to the extent that the interior was dark gray, and sporting little veins of gobo as well. Great stuff, in its peculiar way.

Likewise, oden - fantastic soup makes the atsuage (tofu) and octopus taste great. This was a light but strongly-flavored konbu-based experience. Did someone say "That's a whole octopus"?

The menu was honestly kinda short of things that we were excited about considering the desire to avoid bulkification of the stomachial region, which is inconsistential with the massifactory propensities of oden (it's bulky shit). Thus no settling-in was accomplished, and at this point a sufficient quantity of moving-on went into effect. Still, if you were in town I'd say this is worth stopping by. Like Yoshiharu, it filled up pretty quickly. Unlike Yoshiharu, it was really good.

Side note: there's also a yakitori place around the corner that describes themselves as 'famous sake yakitori'; I'm not a huge fan of yakitoris, nor of drinking sake with them, but if this is your thing you'd want to switch places in your Kashiwa agenda.

Now why would this link be blocked for 'adult content' by my work ISP?


  1. Still on 1-a-day pace I see.

  2. Rub it in. I have not seen "Fukinotou" in DC area. I wonder "fuki" plant naturally grows in US. You gave me an idea. I will research.