Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gyoro-Gyoro, Nihonbashi (魚櫓魚櫓)

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.

I mean, it's pretty obvious that they've got something going on; with a head store elsewhere (Shibooya, I think), and another branch in this little block of Muromachi, they get a little buying power and can indulge the sort of sake purchases that let them post a bunch of used labels around the door. Never a bad sign.

Today I explained me theory of life and izakayas to Shoe (making his one-and-only appearance in these pages, but of course still rating a nickname). He tried to order deep-fried food in the first round and I said hey, man, howzabout we hold off on the heat until later? Once I went through the whole "Kaiseki has a sequence for a reason, and there's nothing stopping you from imitating that sequence with an izakaya menu" thing, he agreed. Out of politeness, one imagines. It was good conversation; funny how even after many years people can still say things that remind you to challenge your thinking.

And challenge to eat rare fish! Again we foreswore to order the standard 3 or 5-variety set, striking out boldly by ordering only the three varieties we wanted (two of which weren't included in the sets). The snapper was probably the highlight here, but the huge slices of bonito were pretty good too. This was on the upper end of mid-priced.

This is a pretty good sake menu, isn't it? 14 varieties, two of which were out of stock already (at least two, I suppose), and two off-menu additions (including 14-day Honmaru). I was especially struck by the inclusion of both Azakura and Senkin, thinking as usual that they're nipping across the bridge to Kiyosumi to shop at Tokyo's best sake store, Echizenya. We started with the same Taka sparkling nigori that You and I had last Friday, then moved on to nibble a few more. I especially liked the Genbu, top middle, which is made by Kawanakashima (I say again, one of the oldest brewers, since 1540, as well as referring by name to the famous battle where (if I have this right) Takeda Shingen gave food to the enemy's army so they could have a more glorious battle. Nice one.). The Senkin was terrific, notably different than the others, more refined...just better. Oh, I drank some Azuma Ichi and now find it lacking compared to some of the other famous Saga brewers (Amabuki, Nabeshima), it tastes old-fashioned and clumsy, although that could be the heat influencing my view.

Water eggplant and cucumber, a bit heavy on the vinegar and other saucy appointments, but so early in the season it's great to get these; cold boiled pork salad, another favorite in summer; octopus satsuma-age; scallop grilled in the shell; fried shrimp with spicy mayo - so nice we ordered it twice; grilled chicken with yuzukosho, not the best version ever, but that's kinda true of all the food here.

You're disbelieving the first paragraph, right? Too bad. I'm enjoying it.

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