Thursday, March 5, 2015

Ichie, Sangenjaya (イチエ, 三軒茶屋)

This was a great experience. And it restored my faith in humanity. Or at least my interest in finding great new places. I had a run of great luck recently and didn't go to a bum place. Some that were maybe just OK, but nothing bad and some wonderful surprises. So it was more than wonderful to have a totally mediocre experience here! I loved it! It really refreshed me and got me excited for further exploration in the future...including the tiny place right around the corner from here.

Big Bird and I resolved to freestyle after leaving Kan, which we had reserved and not wanted to stay at for long. On the other hand, it was late, so we didn't have that much time. We started walking down from Ikejiri to Sancha, and at some point I cast eyes left and saw two fridges full of bottles, as well as a sign on the sidewalk saying "We have tasty saki!" SOLD! said the little man in the blue fedora.

No pictures of the fridges. No pictures of the interior. No pictures of Keiko, the really-quite-attractive woman of middling years who owns and runs the place. I would guess she's a retired hostess, and I couldn't guess what the relationship is between her, the cook, and the guy doing odd jobs.

But they have a lot of nice glassware. Actually you get to choose your own glassware. Or ceramicware. I correctly guessed which of the ceramic chokkos was one that Keiko had made herself (not that it looked that bad; just a lucky guess).
They have some foods too. You know I always order iburigakko.

But they only have some foods. It was hard for me to order (partly because this was a second dinner, partly because it was an unexpected menu. Who else thinks sake specialists shouldn't also be oden specialists?).
And they have some sake too. A bunch of it is in 4-go and smaller bottles. Most of it seems to be on the heavier side - that goes with oden and home cooking, and it also aligns with Keiko's philosophy that the light stuff isn't real sake. Or at least I think that was her philosophy. We were in an awkward mode throughout our visit since we were the only customers after another table left, she clearly wanted us to eat and drink a lot more, and she let on that she understood more English than I would have liked. There's isn't really a sake menu either; you have to rely on her to suggest things. I've learned that I don't much like that. I really want to know the stats of what's in a bottle, and I'll pick myself from that. Or if the master is really trustworthy, like when I say 'summer sake', he says "Here are 5".

'Futaributai' is 'couple dancing on a hill', and is a private label made for a wedding facility. That's neat and I like the modern label style. The sake, I could take or leave. My theme for this trip was 'fresh and fruity', because it's impossible to get that stuff in America. Why I kept running into places that stocked and recommended heavy, old-fashioned sake, I dunno.

I also dunno why I ordered a grilled mackerel slice. Maybe just to break up the awkwardness. I do know that it was very tasty and I wish we could have eaten more food here. But with the atmosphere deteriorating due to our discomfort with further ordering, and everyone else's discomfort with our lack of ordering, it was time to hit the trains.

In fairness to myself, I DID have to take three trains and walk 30 minutes to get home from here. It's awkward to do lateral line changes outside the city. So it's for the best that we made a move when we did, because I think I got to the station at midnight again.
And walked home through the housing projects. It's peaceful. And I found that 30 minutes of walking in the cold after a night of drinking does wonders for the constitution. There wasn't a night when I didn't feel refreshed and sober by the time I got home. Maybe it's the bracing effect of considering what's going on in these buildings.

So many lights, every one a story, every story sad.

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