Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Yatsushita, Monzennakacho (和食 やつした)

It's quirky, right? You stay down in southwest Tokyo, Kanagawa really, for 4 weeks, but something draws you back. Inexorably. Through mysterious circumstances we found ourselves staying for three nights in Monzennakacho, 2 minutes from where I used to live. Incidentally, I totally recommend this hotel. Amazing location, and the Japanese-style room was really sweet. I would not be surprised if I had walked by this place, literally, in actual fact, 1,000 times in my life - it's right between home and the station, I lived there for over 2,500 days and went out most days, so there's 5,000 potential sightings right there, yes my mind works this way, let's move on. The picture has nothing to do with the hotel.

Evening saw me out on the town, once the kids were asleep. As usual a quick recon stroll under cover of dark, once the lights were up, showed where the interesting new places were. Yatsushita was one of them, and was open on the night - this was Golden Week, so closing times (and opening at all) were not givens. The picture has everything to do with Yatsushita, which is a new place on the south street of the two running parallel to Eitai Dori on the south side.  I felt like I'd been in this space before, but it's not this place and I don't think it's this place either. It was so weird to walk around during the day with someone and the kids and point out stuff that was 'new', ie 'I remember when that opened in 2005' and the like.

What you have here is your basic, good quality neighborhood izakaya, but since this is Monnaka it's a higher cut than you might expect. I love love love the fact that good-looking, stylish guys are choosing careers in running izakayas. I mean, I would be just as happy if it was women, maybe happier, but the fact that running an izakaya as an art form isn't dying fills me with hope for humanity.

The level of smoking in here did nothing for my faith in Japan though, and Bird and I didn't manage to stay long.
What we did do was have a saki or two and some snaxxx. Cooked and pickled fukis.
And a still-life featuring some saki and some soy-preserved long potatoes. I have to order them when I see them, right? I have to make them too, every time we go to the relevant grocery store here in Chicago and come across them.

The saki selection was...present, let's say that. No particular inspiration or quality or anything. Nothing you'd want to stay for.
This fish seemed good. I honestly can't remember if I ordered sashimi. I thought I did, but then maybe they were out of what I ordered, and after a while no sashimi had showed up, and then one of the guys gave us a sample of the two fish they had on offer, and maybe we paid for it and maybe we didn't. If you're going to get upset about this stuff, you shouldn't be going to quirky little places.

This was seaweed-cured snapper, which I always enjoy and was evidently a new one to the Bird, as it may be to you. Wait wait, am I making that up? I think he thought it was new, but I know we had it together before.
And I can never go past this, which Bird definitely said was new to him. What, haven't I taken you anywhere good? Geez. Water eggplant is a mysterious and delicious thing. Whenever you tell someone about it in America, you can see the fear in their eyes and, either voiced or not, the thought "Christ you eat some weird stuff over there." But Jesus it's tasty. I would grow this myself if I could get seeds, I would.

I would not go back to this place. I'm sorry. There are better places remaining in Monnaka, and a few promising newcomers that I didn't even get to try. And many of them will undoubtedly feature far lower levels of smoke than that which afflicted us here.

We all have our afflictions though. 

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