Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mitakaya Sakaba, Morishita (みたかや酒場)

I almost feel bad writing about Mitakaya. Let me count the ways. Just two, actually.
1. It's on my street, and I like to support local business, but it took me approximately 2,500 nights to go for the first time.
2. The Mitakas, and their customers, are the nicest people, and I would hate for anyone to get the idea that I mean anything other than sincere appreciation here.

How does the entrance look to you? Usually I see it early in the morning while jogging. At night there's nothing around it, so it's a bit like a beacon of hospitality. They open early, and earlier on Sundays.

You can stop by any time. I'm sure the charge is cheap.

Actually you can't stop by any time - it gets crowded, and full, pretty much every night. There seems to be a good turnover of people coming in for dinner and leaving though.

You could probably say it's a bastion of the neighborhood. Mitaka san (I'm assuming that's his name) putters around placidly in the kitchen. I don't think he ever gets upset. However regular customers know that if it takes too long to get their food, a reminder is in order. He forgot someone's potatoes in the microwave.

Drinks are cooling in the fridge behind him. And cucumbers. What should we have?

Yessss, a delightful glass of automatic-hangover 'white liquor' and a cheerful bottle of Hoppy Dark to mix with it. This really does taste a bit like dark beer. It's not a bad thing.

There's also beer. And chu-hai. And some sake, but it was Takashimizu, and Mitaka san laughed, unoffended, when I ordered Hoppy after seeing the bottle.

And the tuna, the 'signature item' here, the one that's mentioned in the increasingly-frequent magazine articles, is extremely good for Y600. I know it looks a little funny, and it certainly has its fair share of tendon, but it's a tasty piece of tuna. Or this one was.

I rounded out my dinner with a dish of cooked spinach, in dashi, topped with fish flakes. And I liked it.

This is where the magic happens.

No, I just like saying that. It's been a while since the kitchen was tidied up. But hey, I hope I look as good when I'm this age.

Actually I AM this age. They opened in January 1975, which means that Mitakaya Sakaba and I are the same age (though I get the edge by a few months).

Mrs. Mitaka is certainly the energy of the operation, but between them they have the balance just right. Of course, with her sitting at the counter and entertaining customers, relaying their orders to him without standing up, some might question the balance. I confess I ordered a drink from her just to watch as she immediately called it out to him. I smiled, and the other customers laughed because they saw what was up.

We were all friends anyway.

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