Monday, June 27, 2011

Ogura, Jinbocho (割烹 おぐら)

What's uuuuuuup! I was trying to take a random picture on the street while Volleyball and I waited for the light to change, just something to say "Jimbocho is the sports-store neighborhood." These women were pretty in-the-spirit, so I took another one with them posing better. And then got lost for 5 minutes looking for Ogura.

It's funny, I walked by this place a bunch of times without really connecting that it was the one getting the good scores on Tabelog. Those high scores are an interesting point (if you're mildly obessed with the success of crowdsourcing) - the COB used to say that Tabelog was unfair to places that appealed to older customers, because the youngsters who post there wouldn't like the older atmospheres. Well, Ogura must be the exception that proves the rule - those high scores somehow cover the fact that it's a mediocre kappo geared toward salarymen on entertainment outings. Damn.

They had the assortment plate waiting for us when we sat down; I can't help thinking that's kinda lame. It illustrates my point - they're doing this so you won't have any awkward pause while waiting for snacks to come so you can start drinking. Clients might not like that.

Anyhoo, OK sesame tofu, OK 'edamami beans', nice abalone (I do like abalone. Looks gross, tastes good.), soy-pickled firefly squid (a bit much).

I made a new rule for myself after this - I'm going to start saying I don't like torigai when people ask if there's anything that should be left out of a course. It's not that I hate it, but I've had it enough times, in enough contexts, to know that I just don't like the texture. The tuna akami and snapper here were good, and it looks pretty, at least.

However this was a very good chawan mushi. Considering the other food, you might think they just got lucky here. The texture was firmer than the usual, without the extra-soup-running-out-the-bottom that you often (always) get. This was terrific, and the little sliver of kabosu peel on top hit you in the nose with limey fragrance as soon as you got the lid off. Good job, Ogura.

The eel was pretty good too, but it sure doesn't look like anything special. It was just sauced-and-steamed; not sure if there's any southern theme at Ogura or if they just don't like grilling stuff, but no crispitude at all (which is more Tokyo-style). Tasty. And hey, at an eel specialist, the price of this would be about 1/3 of the whole course here.

Actually the describe themselves as a sorta eel specialist (and fugu in winter), so I was really expecting to have hamo. Not getting it was a letdown.

Meanwhile, between a pumpkin, a potato, an eggplant, and some fuki shoots, not a hint of interest.

Thankfully this tofu croquette was delicious, with good spicing and a crumbly texture inside the thick crust. An interesting version of a common dish.

Likewise these tea soba - really tasting like tea, and extremely chewy. Watch out for these if you see them - it's unlikely they'll be in the same style, but it's worth trying. This was a satisfying way to end even though the seaweed torn up on top was large and damp.

And for once, you know, I actually enjoyed the fruit that came at the end. This melon was so sweet and so ripe that it kinda hurt my tongue. Sugar burn, I like to call it. I'll leave out the 'simple, humble' joke, just this once, and say that this really was a good way to finish. It's a rare course that improves into the last 2-3 courses, and while I couldn't tell you to go to Ogura...really under any circumstance, we left pretty happy.

One day, I want to be able to ask for a company receipt at the end of dinner, just like everyone else always does.
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