Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Waraku, Tama Plaza (居酒屋和楽)

Part 3 in 'dining in our the suburbs' series saw everyone back in Tama Plaza, this time going to the izakaya most highly recommended by my colleague You. The chef worked at the Imperial Hotel years ago and brought back a bunch of that training, which shows up in his food.

It's quite traditional from the outside, and the 'wa' in the name is even more Japanesey.

Inside is fully Japanese too - at some point in its life, it was trying hard to be a country-style or farmhouse-themed restaurant (and I don't mean that in a bad way. 'Theme restaurant' carries certain connotations about funny atmosphere, bad food, and inflated prices, and that wasn't the idea.). Now it's just a relaxed place in the suburbs. The chef was wearing 3/4 pants and Crocs.

You wouldn't know it was funny until you saw the food or started looking at the menu. The menu is a piece of cloth with the plastic-covered food lists hand-sewed onto it. With a cactus drawing.

And then there's the food. I've thematically grouped these into the 'foreign pastes' picture - taramosalata and liver paste. Both were good; the taramo is a rarity in Japan (as is Greek food in general, and that sucks) and the liver paste is a commonality, but this was a good one. The baguette is also nice; it's bought in from a baker in the area and is a bit more Japanese in style - softer crust, denser crumb. It also ran out after these two plates, so he gave us some crackers to finish.

These were sorta 'main' plates, but it's still an izakaya so it's hard to get really substantive ones (like 'commonality', I'm deliberately misusing 'substantive' there for humorous effect. Don't get confused.). Clockwise: normal salad with some really nice cured meat and very, very runny egg. Meh. Beef carpaccio with chili oil, yum (although 'carpaccio' is a misnomer - this was thick enough to deserve a 'sashimi' tag). Ribs, decent (sweet, sticky, but not slow or smoked). Fried octopus, good (if you've never had fried octopus, it's really worth trying. Like frid chickin, but with a different taste and texture. And not rubbery, promise.).

Ahhhh, the piece de resistance, which is of course French for "I resisted ordering this." I don't go to a lot of yoshoku, after all, and the omelette is a pure yoshoku item in Japan. Especially with the ketchup squezed on the edge like this. You was rhapsodizing about how great the omelettes are here; I'll agree that it's good, nothing more. Which is pretty much how I ended up feeling about the place overall. If you need me for anything, I'll be back across the street at Sato's.


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