Monday, September 20, 2010

Kaburaya, Asagaya (かぶら屋)

Kaburaya is a medium-sized chain of cheerful and very, very cheap izakayas centered on Ikebukuro and south on the Shinjuku axis. They have a few farther-out branches like this one that Peacock and I stopped in to after being rejected by some other places. God blesses the meek and the early openers - these guys start letting the drunks in at 4, even on holidays like today when most of the interesting places in Asagaya are off doing what interests them rather then serving us. The guy in the window kept staring at us while we sat outside in the threatening weather; lotsa drops, but no real rain.

Know what they have here? They have beer. And fried food. And grilled food. And boiled food. And it's all cheap. I think when you take out the Y400 of tax that the government imposes on each mug of beer, these were free. You have to pay for the 'akakabu', slices of small turnip pickled in sweet pink vinegar, but I'd always pay for that. I love 'em.

This was just supposed to tide us over until other places opened, but we had to try a few things. I can't stomach the idea of oden (the 'boiled food' mentioned earlier) unless it's the dead of winter, but for some reason this stick deep-fried hanpen sounded OK. Hanpen, in case you're wondering, is like kamaboko, but...softer? Rougher? Kamaboko, in case you're wondering, is cheap white fish pulverized to mush and pressed into various shapes. The most common is the 'loaf' shape that you may remember getting in your soup some time, but it comes in stars and roses and even, mainly for the new year, in loaves with decorative designs right through them, so when you cut off slices every piece says '2010' on it. Kamaboko is famous in Odawara, which is yet another reason why Odawara is know colloquially as the 'Kingdom of Meh'.

Geez, that was intense. I can't think of anything exciting to say about these potato croquettes.

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