Thursday, May 24, 2012

Izakaya dinner

An Izakaya is a casual dining restaurant/ bar that serves small portions of food that goes well with beer and other alcoholic beverages. We found one and decided to try it despite our lack of Japanese language. Actually, we found a restaurant, tried it and then realised it was an Izakaya.

We were not disappointed.
The Izakaya. Sorry for the bad shot. It was after beer.

We asked for beer and Umeshu to start, and then started asking about food in our best pidgin Japanese. The waitress tried valiantly for a bit then sought reinforcement from her colleague, whom we shall call "Cowboy" because of his hat. His English was not so good, but his marketing skills were "Number 1".

In his best halting English, he offered vegetable tempura from "Okinawa's Number 1 vegetable", pig's ear tempura, and "Okinawa's Number 2 vegetable" tempura. We chose the first and passed on the other two. "Okinawa's #1" vegetable turned out to be bitter gourd. But it was good. I don't usually like bitter gourd.

Then we asked about yakitori and chose the chicken and pork. Both were good, and the chicken tasted rather special to me. Better than the pork actually. PL agreed that it was good too (she doesn't usually like chicken). We ordered another round of the chicken.

We also asked for Gyoza, and Cowboy informed us that it came with "Okinawa's #2" vegetable. He also tried to explain something, which we didn't understand but we said we would try anyway. And this was the highlight for us. The Gyoza was spicy! I think this was what he was trying to warn us about. We love spicy so we ordered a second round and this time (since we appreciated the spiciness!) he added on the side the chilli paste which he later told us was called "Okinawa no okus" (my best phonetic spelling of what he said). It was great! We wiped out the little bit of "okus" he had added on the side.

"Okus!" The red paste of spiciness!
Gyoza! Unknown to us, hidden spiciness!

(If there is a standard of spiciness based on buffalo wings, this would be a level 2 or 3 "heat".)

The yaki onigiri (grilled rice ball) came with takuan pickles (radish, I believe) and was up to standard. I prefer yaki onigiri (grilled) to plain onigiri, as I like the grilled flavour which goes well with beer.

The Izakaya's tradition is to present the final bill as a single price to be paid. The unitemised bill we got was ¥4100 for the two of us (about S$75). This was cheaper than the ¥4400 we paid for our first night's buffet dinner at International Garden Hotel which did not come with beer or alcohol!

All in a good deal and a great experience!

I highly recommend the gyoza especially if you like spicy food.

The Izakaya is on the 4-7 block next to the "Dirty Old Man River Hall" (don't ask! Picture of signboard over the entrance is on the left). The name of the Izakaya is in Japanese and I can't read it (Pictured right).

Hokkaido's street naming system is based on the N. American matrix system of streets and avenues (jo or jyo and chome). So the 4-7 block is 4-jo & 7-chome. Google map has this coordinates: 43.76917, 142.359925. It is about a 9 minute walk from Asahikawa Train Station.

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