Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gochi, Shibuya (ごち)

Yooooooshta. It's official. I have now been to all of the good sake places in Tokyo. Think you know another? Nope. Not good. This is the last one. Boo-yah! Good, I'm glad we could all agree on that.

Shibuya at night. Not really night. I love love love summer because you can leave the office practically any time and it will still be light. Shibuya around dinner time is an excellent freakshow.

Japan is a country
that loves English,
uses a lot,
but never really understands.

See the good sake place? It's the little stairwell, hard to spot among the chain and low-level places. What these guys are doing in Udagawacho, not from from Dogenzaka, is a mystery to me, but I was meeting Swannie and wanted to be polite - he's a lot more important and busy than me.

You can probably all recognize the Abekan banner on the right. I love all the writing on the walls - it's a sign of an individual approach to restaurant design, or else clever chain design. Either way, it works.

There are only two gods here, but I'm sure the other 5 would be perfectly happy to make guest appearances. The little sake display works too. Just a few of the varieties on offer.

Which include their special tieups with Ho-ou Biden, Abekan (again), Houhai and Izumi Bashi. There's shochu. There's umeshu. You know don't I don't care.

This is a small, very personal place - mostly the tables above and the counter. The staff are on the young-and-hip side, and I was bummed that the master started pressuring us to order yakitori as soon as we sat down. Essentially he seemed to think we didn't know what was up, and he wanted to make sure to make some money off us.

Problem solved, dude. Even though I was on antihistamines, I'm not leaving without trying the Izumibashi summer sake. I've been looking at their lovely 'Red Dragonfly' labels for months down at Hasegawa in Tokyo Station, and now was able to get into the equally cute 'pink bug' summer version.

Can you really distinguish between different sakes? All I can really say about this is that it was obviously a summer sake, lighter and more acidic, on the sweet side, and had the mild roughness that a brand new bottle has until it gets a tiny bit of time in the air. I just can't see how anyone could remember flavor profiles, but then again I mostly just enjoy drinking.

I enjoy eating too. I enjoy places that make and proudly serve their own tofu as a starter. I enjoy the hell out of raw chicken when it's as good as this. And I enjoy vegetables when they're cooked and chilled this perfectly. What's not to enjoy?

Oh man, I almost forgot how much I enjoyed this yuzu kosho. I really think it's the best I've ever had. I immediately asked to see the bottle so I could try to buy some, and the master said "Errrr...I'm from Nagasaki, and my friend's grandmother just makes it for me." Daaaaaaamn. Kakoiii.

Chicken butts, regular chicken, a wing, a meatball. Excellent quality. A little greasy and smoky on the roasting. Their other specialty is omelettes, which of course were yummers, and the combined effects of antihistamines, alcohol, and a master from Fukuoka made me want to order the mentaiko udon, which were very average and not mentai at all. Nor hentai, even slightly.

So yeah, a few minor issues, but a perfectly excellent place, with the chicken focus being a good switch from your usual sake specialist.

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