Ibuki, which is at the next station, the relatively enormous Machida. So if you're in TGGEM, this is the place to go. If you're at another of the little local stops along Odakyu, this is also a decent idea. If you're in the city, there are a few other places I could recommend.
Oh, and the bowl. Is this Arita pottery? It looks like some plates I got at Dengama.
other nutas I ate this week.
In retrospect, I bet the master wouldn't be very happy to know that I was publishing a bunch of pictures and encouraging people to visit him. He's got a lot of work to do and is perfectly content to be turning out great stuff in his home town.
Which is noble, and I think him for it, and I'm going back to Tokyo now.
Friday, February 27, 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Shimomiya, and not even being able to drown our sorrows due to the ordering difficulties and overall stylistic incompatibility, Bird and I were desperate to go somewhere else. Since we were up for whatever, the conversation went like this:
"Hey, there was another place I attached my eye to, I think I sent you the link, in Shimo Ochiai or Takadanobaba."
"I might remember that. But I can't look it up on my dumb phone."
"Maybe we can just try to find it."
"Did you look at the map?"
"I think it's somewhere between here and Baba. Let's just go northeast, keep our peepers peeled, and hope for the best."
"Well, I didn't look at the map, but I'm up for whatever."
And minus one brief bit of confusion at the Otakibashi intersection where Bird saved our bacon by pointing out which way the subway line runs, that and 15 minutes of walking was all it took to get us in front of this place. There was some definite consternation on the part of the master when I peeled back the noren, but there were also two open seats nearest the door, and the other customers insisted we take them. Which is indicative of several aspects of this place, in retrospect
"Hey, I like to sit around and drink, and you cook pretty well, so howzabout it?"
"Sure, I'm up for whatever."
Actually that's all the conversation I can imagine, but that's how it went down. The master doesn't master a whole lot, he mostly sits in front of the fridge while his wife cooks her own stuff at her own pace. It's a LOT like your mom cooking whatever you want, and the regulars were encouraging us to just ask for stuff even if we didn't see it.
The regulars made this place. We sat next to a watch repairman and a soba maker. Everyone knew each other, and they were there to have a good time. With a vengeance. It was contagious. And memorable.
More properly, here's the list of kura. I can't remember what I tried to order, but since we had ordered the buri, the master said "That doesn't go with buri." Strangely, I was unfazed by this and told him we were Up for Whatever. Whatever turned out to be a nice, fruity Sougen. There were at least three Sougens in the fridge, and likewise a couple options from each of the other excellent kura listed there.
What did we drink? I'm pretty sure the brewers that we drank something from included Sougen, Yorokobi Gaijin, Kaze no Mori, Juji Asahi, Furousen, and the one all the way on the left that's called Chou-something. By that point I was having waaaaay too much fun to quibble over niceties like breweries and rice milling percentages. Being Up for Whatever does that to you.
Did I say counter? There are only 10 seats at one counter, and it's hard to squeeze behind your new friends to get to the bathroom. It keeps things collegial. You need to be up for whatever.
Tuesday night, and this is Thursday. Who cares? This was well past the point of being an evening to remember, and nothing as little as a spring roll could influence that. For the first time in a long time, I was looking at the clock and wondering if we could squeeze in another 30 minutes without missing the last train. Eventually everyone had the same idea ''Oh shit" and we all left at the same time.
Fuu Ryu as well as Takatora, and I didn't want to go home anyway but missing the train would be really really bad this time. I got the second-last train out of Shinjuku, a bit after midnight, and passed out until magically waking up 30 seconds before missing my station.
I'm always taking pictures of those bums that pass out on the train.
[I jest, but Higashi Nakano also houses Tokyo's single best sake bar, so it's not exactly a joke.]
end of the bottle free and a full glass from a new bottle, which is exactly what the regular customer next to us got. Maybe we would have gotten that too, and my outrage is misplaced. Maybe not. I told mama later that I never like the taste of the end of the bottle, and she claimed that some people prefer it. I don't know what these were, and I didn't like them enough to figure it out for you, even out of completeness. I should mention that everything is served in a glass of 90ml or so, and the prices are toppy for that.
And with that, my frustration overtook me, and we resolved to do the ol' nijikai. I had attached my eye to another place a few stations over, and despite not knowing where it was, anything was better than throwing more money in the hole after what we spent here.
I think everyone was relieved when we left.
The financiers may have had anchovy in them; definitely a hit of something salty. The little flatbreads were onion and bacon, I think, which would be a nod to the mothership l'Auberge in Alsace, which is one of the longest-running three-star restaurants in the world.
Quintessence, although I see that was totally different.
Just like the whole experience of dining here (minus the strawberry part). The service is great, and from the moment you step in, it's like you're in a dream.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Ibuki, but as soon as I walked up to it I realized that I had seen it last year on that Ibuki trip and decided not to go. Which would be unfair to a better place, but Ibuki is really top class, and there's no shame in not being that good.
Kinen Style. Which is a pretty neat idea for a site until the government starts outlawing smoking like we had happen in America. Which seems like a smart comment until you think that Japan takes forever to do anything.
The picture on the right is the master, drawn by his daughter. The shop is non-smoking for her benefit, which I didn't entirely understand but didn't ask about. Maybe she was under the counter.
I'll spare you the rest of the food menu - the master's handwriting is heavily stylized and nearly impossible to read for an amateur like me.
My enjoyment of this plate of fish didn't suffer at all. Every item was delicious. The octopus was exemplary. I ordered a whole separate plate but didn't receive it.
Nekoya in Tsukiji. That was a cool place, or at least I remember it that way. Sometimes it's hard to say when you've been going to sake izakaya this aggressively for this long and your tastes have changed this much whether your memories are accurate. I feel old.
Otafuku. The fried food was good here too. Not a coincidence, I tell you.
Down the evil Machida goat-hole, no doubt.
It bears saying, this place is nice but isn't a patch on Ibuki. If you're in Machida for some crazy reason, that's your go-to.