Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Moromiya, Nihonbashi (もろみ家)

The two masters here at Moromiya are working on their collection of sake labels. It doesn't really need more work, does it? Actually, nothing about this place needs more work. It's just about right, across the board. You'll love it even as you leave lighter in the purse (or not, if you can get your guest to expense it to the company, woo hoo).  

This was a work dinner, again following the format when Ant comes in from London - I pick a place, he and Long and I go there and drink a bunch of sake, I try to take pictures on the sly and they make fun of me, we walk back to Ningyocho where Ant stays, we take cabs home. Ant is a funny guy; he strikes me as a rugby player, but loves his nihonshu. Japanese food outside sashimi, not so much. We're working on him.

Again I say, this place doesn't need any working on. The two-sided central fridge substantially impairs the lines of sight, and you have to go around to the other side to pick what you want to drink next, and waah waah. Quitcher bitchin, because they've got a terrific selection - this is perhaps 20% of it, and it leaves out the Juyondai, the special bottling of Kudokijozu jundai, the Toyobijin...hell, it leaves out a lot. While I mentioned 'lighter in purse', I was stunned to learn that the Juyondai was less than sen yen for one go, and it was the good stuff. Well, some of the good stuff. We started with a lightly-cloudy from Okayama's Sake Hitsotsuji (I say again, less than 5km from my colleague You's ancestral home). The Toyobijin '611' also deserves a special mention - they're doing various runs with numbers that indicate which fields the rice came from (611 is the address of the block within their town; they've made some other numbers too). This reinforces my impression that they kick ass.

After the starter of yuba tofu with crab leg and ginger, we worked on various snacks including this decent (fresh but un-spectacular) monkfish liver. I wish I could show you the skate wing - instead of bringing a plate of grilled slices to the table to get cold, they brought the dried, uncooked bits and a small charcoal burner. It takes some working on, but it's nice to be able to toast it to your liking and eat it right away.

All four of these sashimi choices were extraordinary - clockwise from 9, winter yellowtail, Indian tuna, snapper, pickled mackerel. Top-quality fish isn't cheap even in Japan, and this plate was close to $50 - which is still a hell of a lot less than you'd pay at a top sushi place for similar 'wow' moments.

They were out of the sashimi shrimp, so we asked if they had any frying shrimp (their lunch scene is big on fry) and they worked up a platter (not pictured; have to pick my spots, and fried shrimp is pretty normal-looking).

Oysters stewed in white miso soup with lots of tofu, onions, greens and yuzu peel. Damn good, damn good. When we finished the solid bits, they took it away and made porridge for a closer. That was actually one of my favorite flavors of the night - the miso with leftover oyster flavor - but I could tell, and confirmed, that Ant was bored by it. He also refused outright to eat any tofu.

This was not my idea, honest. It was the master's! I think it was such a novelty to have two foreigners asking for specific sakes by name that he said we should grab bottles of our favorites and do a round of photos with his phone and my camera. I've got the Juyondai, of course, while he's got the Fudo that recently beat Juyondai in a blind test (and it was very good, but there's so much variety in these things that it's pointless to compare), while Long has the 611. I'm looking forward to seeing this on their blog.

We're in training to be Sake Samurai. The two-up shot was again his idea, but I was thinking of ramen masters or something and suggested we hit this pose. Boom! Wat's up?

I tell you, this is a helluva place if you can pay a bit. The food's good, the sake's great, the people are nice...I'm back here any night you want to go.

Or lunch?


  1. I'm chuhai-samurai!

    Oh sorry I'm ホルモン侍!

  2. Please fight for me. I don't have enough 力 to be a ホルモン侍.

    Ahh, I played with Sumi san yesterday. He was very proud that he will have a special guest in Shibuya on the 21st. I was very happy to play the special guest's dobro! 恥ずかしいけどファイルを送りします.