Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sabroso, Ochanomizu (サブロッソ)

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.

Warm, sunny nights in summer, I just enjoy the hell out of Tokyo. After work I took the train up to Ochanu, hit a few guitar stores (acoustic guitarists - you really can't beat the sub-$200 guitars made by Japanese factories in the 70's), and then strolled to check out Sabroso.

You wouldn't think much to look at this place; I walked or rode by it for years before looking through the dirty little door and seeing some sake in the fridge. In fact, the only thing that tipped me off was the Tedorigawa spring sake with the yellow label (see it here) - by the time I made it in several months later, it was replaced with the blue-labeled summer sake you see at right. The list here is about 15 options long, on a whiteboard, and I imagine it changes just as often as a bottle gets empty. Good list, reasonable kiriko glass pricing.

So I loved this place. You probably can't tell from the TV, but what was playing when I walked in and sat down was Richard Manuel singing Shape I'm In from The Last Waltz - one of my favorite segments of one of the best concert movies ever. Since I was clearly into it, I got to talking to the master.

When I asked what was next, he said "Well, whaddya like? I've got an awesome Little Feat show. They're my favorite." That was indeed awesome, as were his ticket stubs and backstage passes from the year he spent touring America, going to concerts. About 1975, I think.

It's memorialized back in the alley in his little bathroom shrine.


Actually the other pictures made it seem like he and his wife were living out of a van, growing their hair, following the band. That's quite a woman.

I think he's a great master too. Here's the food he serves. Lots of fish, and the guy next to me who comes every week kept going on about how great the value is. The fish was indeed great, both the sashimi and the whole deep-fried lionfish. Honestly, my favorite thing was probably the water eggplant with myoga and shiso - remember that for home use, OK?

Since we're buddies now, I get free stuff. Obviously there was a starter, but then he gave me a piece of toro sushi, and some gravlax that he must have made himself, and an ikura nigiri too. The guys down the counter were jealous - they've been coming for years but had never even seen the ticket stubs. Goes to show you, music and sake have a lotta power to bring people together. But love, love will tear us apart.

Obviously I don't mean that in any personalized way. It's just a song.

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