Thursday, January 20, 2011

Izumiya no Kura, Kanda (神田和泉屋乃坐)

Well, I went to yet another incredible guitar store in Ochanu after work. And after that, I walked around a little. I successfully resisted the urge to visit the mighty Takaban, but when I walked down a tiny alley and saw this place, with not even much of a sign, and that name.. The paper lantern device was inside, in the linoleum-clad stairwell. They were making some effort to improve the atmosphere though; there were other smaller lanterns on alternate steps, adding to both the nagomi and the incongruity.

Anyway, the little board next to the lantern said 'seasonal sake', and who am I to say no to that...especially with a name as good as this.

Turns out that Izumiya is a liquor store; the master swore it was on the first floor of the building, but I couldn't find it! Either it's on the other side of the block or else it was so barred 'n' shuttered for night that it became invisible. That happens.

I always like to show you the serving style, and this isn't a bad photo either, huh? They probably had 30 things on offer, all of which are stocked in the shop and available in glass, tokkuri or larger. It was a little uninspiring; there's a good proportion of good-but-normal stuff like Jokigen (the Yamagata one), Kikuhime, Kaiun and Nishinoseki. However they seem to have chosen to have relationships with those brewers, because they have multiple varieties of each, and then they have some others in the stable. These include Kouro (Kumamoto - ever seen the square green 4-go bottle?), Harushika, Kidoizumi. I drank a cold one from Shikizakura that was decent, then a hot one from Toyonoaki that was not (some kind of wacky esters or aldehydes or sontarans volatizing off it; I associate those flavors with shitty atsukan. Not to malign a good brewer, I just don't know from atsukan.)

They had a page or two at the back with a limited selection of nama and hiyaoroshi sake - but with copious text explaining why these are such great things. All this did was made me think how much I love, love, love Echizenya, Tokyo's best sake store. One time I bought a bottle and they kinda looked at me sideways and said "Hey, you know that's not nama, right?" If you haven't been to that place, and I'm betting that no one reading this has been inside, you really should try it.

All the stuff here is smaller than it looks; this wasn't a big dinner by any means. I also tried to walk home but gave up halfway. Left to right and down, we have the starter of boiled greens with tiny dried fish (surprisingly good), then the obligatory smoked pickle (obligatory because when I see it, I have to order it), excellent sashimi, tolerable rice bran-pickled mackerel, and very good semi-dried redfish (they get fish from a couple of ports, and this was from Wajima; it was good enough that I had to chew the bones a bit to get those fatty scraps off.).

Prices are a tiny bit high, and atmosphere is a tiny bit limited. There's one table and a zashiki room too though, so those might be preferrable. The master was uncommunicative; not a bad guy er nuthin, I think he just doesn't like to talk while he works. I guess you can tell that it's a decent place but, despite the awesome name, there's no particular reason to go here or not. Although lunch actually looks like a good deal on quality and volume.

Note that the shop has an annual sale - March 23-25, 10% off everything.

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