Friday, July 22, 2011

Hyotan, Shinagawa (和風居酒屋 ひょうたん 品川店)

We pretty much struck out at the first place, not even completing our plan to wait there until our friends arrived but at least adding an amusing one to the file of losers. The next most likely-looking establishment was Hyotan, a few hundred meters down the road, and it turned out well. Certainly it had that yellowed and smoky look that comes from a lot of businessmen doing their time, but there weren't that many of them, and they weren't that smoky.

For some reason I liked the serving style on the night even though it's quite normal. This is basically a shochu 'library' place, with...ohhh, 50 or 60 varieties, maybe more. Who's counting? The sake is about 15 types, but good stuff. In particular they had a Kudokijozu jundai ('44', I think it was called) that was as predictably excellent as I expect their top end to be.

So let me just look at the food with you for a second. We were here for a while, and were 4 people most of the time, and that explains the volume.The pickled mackerel was quite good - sour and juicy. Grilled snapper, decent, quite fatty. Fried balls of something that I can only guess were fish-based, and have slipped my memory. Fried chicken butts, not as good as you'd hope; the best grilled ones are awesome. Chicken meatballs, a really weird version, not bad, but not to be repeated; I think you can tell from the color and shape that they're oddballs. Todd has become a big fan of 'tonkatsu salad', also known as shredded cabbage with wooster sauce, and while the waitress fairly quaked with fear at the strangeness of the order (it's just not done), we received it anyway. Finally, grilled bits included delicious duck, decent beef tongue, average chicken.

There you have it. Possibly the best place on the street, but I wouldn't even mind exploring the street for another night. It's long. 


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