Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Senmatsu, Monzen Nakacho (千松)

Late at night, and the mean streets of Monzen Nakacho are steaming. Positively malevolent, isn't it?

Yeah, not really. One of the greatest things about Japan is how safe it is. The steam here is just because it was a little wet, and the new paving was still hot. There's always road construction going on somewhere - tax dollars have to be recycled into payments to the construction industry to keep our socialist society functioning.

It took me several years to realize that Senmatsu was a restaurant and that they were doing business every night. I never saw anyone going in or out, and the windows are covered. Then I realized it was called an 'oden kappo', and got much more interested. I stopped in on one of those weeknights when I was irritated by work and didn't feel like going home. They were full. I went back a few days later and found it almost empty - both of customers and charm. Oh well.

The drinks list is interesting - they seem to specialize in half-bottles of decent sake. I say 'decent' advisedly - they all sound OK, but there were no brands I had heard of, and that's a real rarity these days. I settled on this Ono Komachi Jungin (it was drinkable but ordinary, if you're wondering) and ordered some food.

Oden ordering takes a familiar pattern as far as I'm concerned. It's rare that there are interesting varieties, and the last time there were interesting varieties and I tried to navigate the odd naming conventions to order one, I ended up with a block of reheated whale blubber. Stick with the classics. In this case, I'm sure you recognize the shirataki on the left (some would say 'miracle noodles', but not me), and then everything else is made from ground up fish or tofu. Except the vittle at bottom right, which is stewed pork belly. Wouldn't want to be too healthy, would we.

Well, maybe.

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