Monday, September 20, 2010

Hayashiya, Asagaya (食愉旬感 HAYASHIYA)

Northside Asagaya is a hip, bohemian enclave of over 100 fun little bars and restaurants...that were all closed on the holiday. But no reason we couldn't walk around and see things, like this hip, bohemian house.

They left the window open. I think that makes it fair game, and even fairer with a flash. Don't you get the feeling that this was abandonded years ago and has been untouched since? Hard to believe since the window was open - I'd expect more damage - but it sure didn't look very used.

Plus we ran into our old friend Tom Corllins.

And then our new friend Hayashiya. I really resisted going to this place since the glossy menus and high-quality custom-printed noren really say 'chain' to me, but after eating there and researching it, I'm pretty sure it's not. There's something about japanese culture that works against the chain ethos anyway - take sake for example. It's way too hard to enforce the consistency across branches, so if you want to offer good sake, you're going to end up with an individual experience at each place. Anyhoo, their plan here seems to be to offer organic veg, a bit of meat, and lots of interesting drinks in the herbal vein, with a good sake selection thrown in too. Perhaps a little trendy since they had a menu page highlighting that same Dancyu article that featured Nabeshima, but boy is that stuff good.

The starter was seriously unique (except that Peacock and I each got one of them) - mushroom tofu. Very soothing, and better than you'd think.

There were a good 20 varieties of sake, including some daiginjo; I loved the purple-label Nabeshima jungin, and also a Murayu jungin - never had that before, but now that I know the label I realize they have it at my local store.

This is a bit concerningly chain-ish - frozen shrimp and avocado salad. Still, it tastes good with all that mayo. Organic mayo, I'm sure. Somehow I had a hard time navigating the menu...there may be better things on offer.

The fish, as befits early autumn, was awesome. Early buri, seasonal sanma, both very fatty and abundantly luscious. What did that mean?

I'm trying to follow the Japanese eating pattern while drinking these days, which is to say "Little to no food". Thus for our main course, we had an onion. OK, an onion and a half. Roasted in foil, with rosemary. This is something to do at home - it's delicious. I bet it's as easy as it looks too.

Y'know 'Cock, we never got that omelet we ordered. I wonder if we paid for that.

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