Saturday, April 17, 2010

Yoshiharu West, Kashiwa (吉春、柏)

Kashiwa is a bit out there, to the northwest, but worth a late-afternoon trip since there are a bunch of nice-looking izakayas scattered about the town. It's surprisingly big, having a Takashimaya, Marui and various other department stores; clearly a major outlying town and one of the bigger in Chiba.

First on the agenda was Yoshiharu, who have a warehouse-style branch on the east side of the station (their web site describes it as a 'Shin-shu style kura', where Shin-shu is the sorta Karuizawa-to-Nagano area) and this more farmhouse-y branch on the west side. The atmosphere is pretty good - old-fashioned in a slightly contrived way. If I had to describe in terms very few readers would understand, I'd say it's like Okajouki with less class.  Still, it says on the web site 'Make your weekend reservations early!', and was full up pretty much at 5 PM.

The counter looks like this, and the cooking all gets done at a huge faux-traditional stove that wraps around the curved wall. (I say faux, but maybe it's real? Anyway, it's the style that you'd see in a farmhouse, with a big clay wall that curves over at the top.).

Starter with your beer, just previously-simmered vegetables and compressed fish products.

Asparagus and bacon, in a very 'should have just eaten this at home' style. On the other hand, the price isn't much higher than what it would cost you to make it at home, so what the hey.

Shishamos, 3 of them. Eh. I didn't order these, and I didn't have to eat 'em either!

And finally, a bamboo shoot boiled, split open, roasted a little bit, and topped with a 'kinome miso', to wit, a heavily sweetened white miso mixed with a lot of kinome (if you've been eating out recently you've certainly seen sprigs of these popping up on top of various dishes. Likewise if you've been reading about my dinners recently.). This was OK, but compared to the potential magic implied by a name like 'takenoko, kinome miso', it was quite meh.

The bill came with a bunch of discount coupons. We didn't even look at them really, except to see there were 3 or 4 of them, and I think they were Y300 each. That was half the bill! We handed them off to the drunk couple sitting adjacent, and the guy of the pair snapped them up with very un-Japanese rapidity and lack of restraint. They're regulars and really appreciated the unexpected discount.

No shame, really.

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