Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Toraya, Kita Senju (虎や)

Now it can be told, the sad tale of my last night on the town. More an afternoon, really. Any day that starts with ice cream for lunch and finishes by 8 at the 3rd restaurant deserves its own special naming convention.

Big Bird is connected in convoluted and barely legal ways to the shady back-streets of Kita Senju, and more specifically to this pleasant and cheap izakaya.

There was some joke about this, some perversion of English. The master is a jokey guy who is clearly happy with staying down market, having a few drinks behind the counter, and chatting with his customers. It beats office work, is what he'd say if he could speak enough English that it wasn't limited to funny little oyaji gags.

It's nice how he has a funny little twist on things too, like a decent skate wing that's left in bigger pieces. I mean, these are just the small points that you ruminate on when you're drinking

Alps Wine. I was in a weird state of mind, obviously. Getting ready to leave your home of 7 years will do that to you. Obviously my state of mind was weird enough to make me drink this old-fashioned Japanese wine. This is wine that comes in 1.8 liter bottles in the supermarket. Skiers will not that it's made in Hakuba (or at least the label says something about that). On the night, I found it kinda pleasant. You need to know that it's 'built to last' in the sense that it kinda tastes like Madeira right off the bat. You could interpret this as 'spoiled' or 'gone bad'. That would be your right. When you're down-market, and pleasantly refrigerated port in a storm.

Go on, sit down at the end of the counter like we did. The Alps Wine and the sake is then in a little fridge just at your right hand. Feel free to remove the bottles and pour for yourself. The master would probably appreciate your honesty, but if a glass goes missing here and there, what's the bother? The prices aren't high here, but they are ample to cover some shrinkage on sake like Takashimizu and Dassai.

A thing that I grew to love about Japan, more over time and then less, was duck. I've always liked a nice piece of duck, and I liked how you could often get a plate of it in restaurants of all stripes. Then I realized you could get whole, pre-cooked duck breasts in almost every grocery store. At that point my cheapness kicked in and I started eating it happily at home, but being less impressed when an izakaya would pull the package out of the fridge and whack off some slices for me. Cheap bastard. Whatever, it tastes good.

Speaking of 'Birds' and 'tasting good',
No, that's a different story. But the evening, and the day, and the whole romantic-lunches-with-Big-Bird thing, had to end eventually. This was it. I'll miss you buddy.

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