Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ajisai, Kanda (味彩)

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. Back to work.

This one has been settling in and gathering rust just above Iroha Sushi, on the Kanda shotengai. You'd recognize it by the sake signs on the wall - and if you're like me, you'd be put off too. The signs are for Hakkaisan, Shimehari Tsuru, Kubota, and the other leading or major quality sake brands. Periodically I'd see them, think about going, decide it was likely to be focused on boring drinks, and slide it back in the 'forgotten' file.

That was just me, of course. The other 15 customers packing this place to capacity and taxing the speed and ingenuity of the chef and waitress hadn't forgotten anything. But I'm also not sure if those customers know what they have. What they have right here, is they have a sake list that needs to apologize to no one, plus competent food at good prices, in a cheerful atmosphere. And that is more than enough for me.

Just a quick view of the fridge, OK? It didn't look like this when we came in, because the bottles of Nabeshima, Jikon, Fudo, Senkin, and Toyo Bijin just naturally rotated to the front as I ordered them. So there are 40-50 bottles here, and they're all about that good. Which is to say, as good as it gets. The regular customers really don't seem to be that into it. In general they were asking for recommendations, whereas the chef seemed very happy to see someone who wanted to pick between his 4 varieties of Jikon.

He really doesn't have to apologize for his food either. This is cold tofu with a little fish-sweet-sour dressing, and daikon shoots (which compress the bitterness and nutrients of daikon into a convenient little package). It was a lot tastier than it looks.

As was the sashimi, which looked a little rough but was good quality. One of the highlights was the snapper, which in this picture is unfortunately obscured by clouds.

Well, we had a few drinks. Left is that Toyobijin 611, so-named because it's single-origin rice from the 611 area of their town. Then the Juyondai 'Seahorse', which proved as always the amazingness of the brand. The Nabeshima and Jikon to the right were specifically ordered to be a 'fruity' round, and they were. Just great stuff.

Not much needs to be said about the remaining brown food except that it was competent. No, I lie - we looked at each other while eating this skate wing and haltingly admitted that we were both thinking it was really good for some reason. The previous picture probably had something to do with it.

Chicken, undistinguished.

Chicken, better. That's spicy miso on top, and the while it's brown and sloppy, it was filling and tasty.

Damn, why didn't I go here years ago? It would have been perfect for impressing foreign visitors while still having a great and interesting time. The food could reasonably be said to be less than excellent, but it's certainly not the crappy food that many great drinking places try to get away with. This should be on your list at some point.

Although it's not like I suffered without it.

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