Thursday, November 18, 2010

All That Jazz, Arakicho (オール・ザット・ジャズ)

You have to admire courage and conviction. If you were a regular salaryman who liked drinking sake, would you get off the treadmill around age 40 to open a little bar in Arakicho with a focus on southern sake and a mild theme of 50's memorabilia and pinup girls? No, you would not.

But if you did, your front door might well look like this.

And your counter would almost certainly look like this. I particularly enjoy the framed Supergirl drawing. Zoom in!

As you look down this range of bottles, I would hazard a guess that, like me, you recognize the Jikon right away, but nothing else (it's a small picture too, I'll give you that). It seems the master has a predilection for going on trips, mainly to the Osaka area, and buying things directly from brewers - as with that Luck! Zen place, he was just trying to do something different. As such, his list is like nothing I've seen before. Focus on the handwritten one; on the long printed list, only the dozen or so names marked with stickers are actually in stock.

They're debating whether or not they should update the sugidama; they got it in February when they opened and it's just been getting brown since then. If you zoom here you'll see some more pinup-themed stuff and some retro goods, including a really sweet radio. The panel clock on the counter with the kid pouring lemonade says something like "A pitcher of health!" which is sinister or funny in this context.

Disclosure: I was meeting someone for dinner, got to the neighborhood 30 minutes early, got rejected from a more notable sake specialist (totally empty, but their part-time help hadn't arrived yet and they were fully booked later and it was all very embarassing and terrible but get lost) and found this place with time only to check it out and drink one drink that forms the basis of this excessively lengthy and uninformed review. Here it is.

Aizu Chujou makes this jungin with the special Moyashimon label; I guess I can see how an anime about bacteria and agriculture goes along with the wacky brewing process that make sake. This description is funny: College student Tadayasu Sawaki has a unique ability. He can see and communicate with bacteria and other microorganisms. Hijinks ensue.

Good sake, and I especially appreciate him recommending something that I would like based on my description. Should you visit, you would appreciate the low prices (many Y580, although for something like a 120ml size - "So you can drink more and compare" says the waitress, astutely).

More disclosure: I annoyed them so comprehensively by making smalltalk about sake that they gave me a plate of mushrooms and bacon to shut me up. It was decent. I think it was around the time that I noticed they had Kirei on the menu and mentioned that I had been there earlier this year. It's not like I visit a lot of brewers - that's the only one this year, so it makes sense that I would remember the place, and the brewer's name (and gender, and appearance...) - but that credibility tidbit rated some mushrooms.

I suppose I could update this post if I make it back here, but I think one of you should try it more fully and let me know. I'll tell you how it's going to be - good sake, simple but decent food, pleasant atmosphere, good prices. Isn't that all we need? In a cool neighborhood that many people haven't heard of?

Sure it is!

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