Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Yamakou, Monzen Nakacho (鮎の里 山幸)

Yeah, I was disgruntled at work again. Didn't deal with it that well; stopped off at an izakaya on the way home. It's a problem with Monnaka - I may never run out of new places to try, even when they're old places like this.

'Mountain Happiness' specializes in ayu, a small river fish that you've probably seen, if you've seen them, skewered on pieces of bamboo that are stuck in the sand around a fire. The signs say "Ayu Cooking" and "Village of Ayu". I always think it's sinister when a place describes itself that way, or the sign shows the featured animal chowing down on a big bowl of...its brethren. The only way this is a village for Ayu is if it's a death camp.

Inside is where old sake goes to die.

No, I kid. This is a really funny thing if you've followed any of the sake bar exploration I've done. They have about 20 varieties of sake (though not, of course, the Juyondai that they show on the menu). And most of those sakes are not 'pure rice'. In fact, they're not even 'real brewed'. What they've done here is scour the country and select a range of 'normal' sake. Almost every sake you've ever seen mentioned in this site features no sake of that type - it's too normal.

But there are actually some good brewers in there, and while I contemplated the dusty fan, repro beer poster, and ayu lithograph, I settled in with a decanter of Koshi no Suiki from Kiminoi brewing (were I being poetic, I would translate this as "Your Well Brewing's Drunken Demon from Beyond". Actually I am being poetic. I just ordered it so I could write that here.

Also some random snacks to stand in for dinner - grilled dried skate wing, fried fish.

Duck meatballs. Maybe 'balls' isn't appropriate in this case.

And supposedly another signature item for this place, grilled dried fish. This seemed like a good value for $6 until I saw that it was the smallest of its type ever seen in captivity.

My interest in returning to this place is even smaller.

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