Friday, April 22, 2011

Mameya, Shintomicho (小料理 まめや)

Shintomi is a funny little neighborhood, and I like it. It's not obviously charming - the main thing is small office buildings, but there are some nondescript modern apartments mixed in. And here and there, a shop or restaurant scratching out a living. Mameya's building, an old townhouse built sometime early in Showa, reminds me of the Little House. It's totally screened off from the street, so let's check it out, shall we?

Great job with the sensitive refit they did 6 years ago when they opened. It's really like they put in the raised floor for seats, the counter, and the new kitchen, and left everything else untouched. There's a bigger tatami-floored area upstairs that we didn't see, because Woody, Peter, Maypole (howzat for some nicknames?) and I all sat at the corner of the counter.

Sake selection isn't extravagant...but the pricing is. Funny that a place offering wholesome food at affordable prices tries so hard to make up the difference so aggressively on drinks. You can see a couple good things in the pictures - top left Kujiranami and then two varieties of Gassan that came as half-glasses of each, great idea. Then Sawahime, which I liked, but not as much as something from Azuma Rikishi (not pictured), my new favorite brewer (joining Senkin and Furosen, if you're keeping score, and I'm also currently partial to the more obvious 14-Dai, Kudokijozu, and Jikon. Who isn't?). Bottom left is a glass of god-knows-what that the master gifted us at the end. It looks like, and tastes fairly like, a really old sake, but it's only 5-6 years old and the alcohol content was 38 percent. When I asked what the heck it was, he just shook his head and grinned.

Let's touch on the food. This is homey, satisfying stuff - and for Y3.5k, great value. The starter is sake lees and cream cheese, then carrots and seaweed, then pre-sliced sazae (I think). Nice to have the snail out of the shell, with the nasty, gritty liver removed, but it still looks disturbing. Then eggplant and pepper, plus the eponymous beans. Sashimi was frankly not terrific, but the hobo was the standout for me. The crusty potatoes and fish were delicious if not exactly what you expect at a place like this (too bad, I say - crusty is tasty), then fried fish and finally sesame sauce on rice. I'll skip a pic of the dull dessert plate; it was too simple and humble.

People seemed to be dropping by for a short dinner, either after work or on the way home, so there was turnover but it stayed full. I could easily go back here for dinner - it's pleasant and welcoming, the food is tasty and healthy and well-priced. Not that the drinks are so extravagant, but I might do my drinking at home, or on an alternate night, just to show my displeasure with the pricing.

This isn't their site, but it's a nice review and has good pictures.

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