Shochu Bars/Restaurants/Izakaya

KATAYURIMO

Katayurimo is the third member of a triumvirate I have a special liking for in Shizuoka City. I have already introduced the other two, Odakkui and Hana Oto whose “masters” shared dinner with me in the company Mr. Mori at Kodarumatei.
Yukata Mori opened his izakaya (can you guess the connection between names?) in May 2005 and already seems to have acquired quite a following as the place will be full by 21:00.
As he is working on his own with a waiter or waitress to serve a maximum of 9 at the counter and 12 at the tatami tables, do not expect shogun service in spite of his ever-smiling welcome.
It’s all slow food there!

There is plenty to drink, including a fine kome/rice shochu (Acha no Tsubone) by Hana no Mai Brewery in Hamamatsu City who printed a private label for Takayurimo. You will find more shochu, sake and so on to please veryone.

As for local Shizuoka Jizake, it tends to vary almost everyday. I was lucky enough to drink from a bottle of junmai called “Susono Katsurayama Shiro” by Fujinishiki Brewery (Fujinomiya City). I felt the more pleased for it as it was a first!

As Mori-San takes his time carefully preparing your orders, you can usually expect two different kinds of ‘”otooshi/snacks” to come with the first drink order.
I certainly relished the home-made “kuro hanpen/black sardine fish paste” served slightly boiled and cold with a dah of wasabizuke (wasabi pickled in sake white lees), all from Shizuoka Prefecture!

The next snack was “noresore/conger eel whitebait”, usually a specialty from the West of Shizuoka Prefecture, which had to be imported from Fukuoka this time as it is already out of season down here.

Just enough to help me wait for the sashimi of the day!
From top to bottom, left to right:
“Katsuo/bonito” from Shizuoka Prefecture. Soft, tender and juicy!
“Saba/mackerel”. Great freshness, no “fishy” taste whatsoever and plenty of “fat”!
“Houbo/Blue Fin Robin” from Shizuoka Prefecture. A comparatively rare variety in Japan, served in top notch French and Italian restaurants. But sashimi is still best!
“Seguro Iwashi/Seguro sardine”. So fresh and almost sweet. Th e latter morsel was served with orange vinegar from Hamamatsu City instead of the usual shoyu/soy sauce.

I was about to “call it a day” as the night was still very young (I had another “appointment”) when I could not help notice the day’s menu board boasting bamboo shoots cooked in four different ways! I can hear Foodhoe salivating!
I was not the only one to be intrigued as three of my neighbours joined me in querying Mr. Mori about it. The poor (still smiling) gentleman found himself ordered to prepare the bamboo shoots (from Asabata in Shizuoka City) in the four different ways advertised! No way he could escape as we all had de facto agreed to share our orders! Talk about natural unconcerted ganging up!
Incidentally the one I asked for (see above) was the “steak style”: it had been boiled to the right softness beforehand and kept in a cool place. It was first cut to size then cooked and served hot.
You can’t beat a good izakaya when it comes to instant friendship (and hard work for the master!)!

KATAYURIMO
420-0034 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwacho, 1-4-2, Harada Bldg. 2F
Tel. & Fax: 054-221-4175
Business hours: 17:~24:00
Closed on Mondays and every second Sunday
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HANA OTO

In recent years Shizuoka has witnessed the welcome resurgence of traditional izakaya thanks to a merry band of young(ish) restaurateurs such as the owners of Oddakui, Yasatei and Hana Oto (and others that I will visit soon!). They all prove time and again to be true exponents of traditional Japanese gastronomy by going back to the basics and caring about their patrons’ pleasure. These gentlemen and ladies (yes, you heard me right!) are not afraid to serve and promote local products, be they fish, meat, vegetables, sake or other delicacies.

Unearthing Han Oto can become a small adventure in itself as it is tucked in one of those “dark corners” on the ground floor of one the most ancient buildings in the Ryogae-Cho district, the oldest haunt of Shizuoka night owls.
It used to be a “yakitori” until Yuusuke Tozaki and his younger brother, Keisuke, took it over in February 2004.

Great fans of the famous sake manga artist Akira Ose (“Kurabito Claude”), they changed nothing, preserving the ancient and warm atmosphere, only adding their own little touches.

Not only great sake including some jewels from Shizuoka Prefecture (Sugii, Takashima, Oomuraya and Kaiun Breweries for the moment) but also great shochu, including an extravagant real tea and rice shochu by Fujinishiki Brewery (Fujinomiya City) called “Chyakkiri Shi”!
Of course all kinds of spirits, awamori, soft drinks and even wine are available.

Now, Yusuke Tozaki has a special predilection for vegetables, especially from Shizuoka, and the enormous Shimizu Ku green asparaguses I was served sauteed with Chinese XO sauce were absolutely scrumptious! Foodhoe will want to fly there, I can tell you!
Even a vegetarian would have enough reasons to patronize the establishement!
But I am not, I ordered a plate of sashimi:

But before that, I had to taste a great Yamahai by Takashima Brewery in Numazu City with a little home-made pickled wasabi plant.
I could have checked the menu, which is renewed everyday but I let the owner choose for me.

Sashimi were absolutely fresh and delicious.Mind you, when you know the level of fish in this Prefecture it almost becomes a matter of course!
I was served “Mejimaguro tuna”, “Katsuo/Bonito”, raw “Tako/Octopus” and “Kurodai Seabream”.
I’ll let you judge!

The first sake having disappeared without notice I savoured another great Yamahai by Sugii Brewery in Fujieda City.

As I had another commitment I unfortunately had to depart, but the owner would let me go before I tried another beauty called “Tatsuhisa” by Eiku Brewery in Yui that was not on the menu for the simple reason that the owner’s private sake!
Blimey, Gaijin Tonic would never leave such a place! I will have to convince Lojol to accompany me for a lengthier visit next time!

HANA OTO
420-0033 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Ryogae-cho, 3-9, Hoshi Bldg. 1F
Tel.: 054-273-8591
Business hours: 18:00~03:00 (until 05:00 on Fridays and Saturdays)
Closed on Mondays
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Yasaitei

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If you had to define an Izakaya in Shizuoka City as a Japanese Izakaya for Vegetarinas, Yasaitei would at stand the top of the list. The name itself means “Vegetables Stopover”!
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Right from the moment you order your first drink, a plate of fresh seasonal vegetables will appear for you to savour with your favourite dressing!
Talking of drinks, Yasaitei is truly a Shizuoka establishment when you realize they serve not only 4 Shizuoka jizake from Syozetsu, Isojiman, Kikuyoi and Hana No Mai Breweries,
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but also 2 rice/kome shochu from Tenjigura (Doman) and Hana No Mai (Acha No Tsubone) Distilleries!
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Their vegetables, most of them from growers living in our Prefecture come under various guises: fried, steamed, deep-fried, and so on.
Now, for the true vegetarians, ask Ms. Naomi Oshino and her charming staff not to include any fish or other animal stock in the sauce. She will be glad to oblige!
The place has be opened only two years ago, and it is full any day of the week. Do reserve your seats as they are limited!
Yasaitei is not the kind of place you can justly describe in a single article. It does deserve a few visits before you can assess its true value. The prices are consequent to the quality, but they are fair in the light of the culinary venture!

Yasaitei
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwa-Cho, 1-6-2 Green Heights Wamon 1-C
Tel.: 054-2543277
Reservations highly recommended
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Hamamatsu Shochu Izakaya: Nikomanma

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Last Friday (April 13th!), my good friend Bernard Heberle, the patissier at Abondance in Hamamatsu City, took me to one of his favourite “izakaya” called “Nikomanma” or “にこまん馬” in Japanese.
Mr. Michiaki Genma opened his very traditional looking resraurant near Wachiyama Park. The interior is the logical succession to the exterior in design with antiques eveywhere, wooden partitions you can open or close at will, parquet sitting room, dinin room and counter.

Nikomanma specializes in shochu and has “Doman” kome (rice) shochu, a favourite of mine brewed by Tenjigura Brewery/Distillery in Hamamatsu City.
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But it also serves a very fine Junmai sake, “Shusseijyo”, from the same brewery.
It is a very popular place and you definitely have to reserve on Fridays and Saturdays. Luckily we came very early, otherwise even Bernard’s persuasion would have been in vain.
The menu is of the better kind with some real finds such as the squid and its ink as tempura!
Try the Japanese omelette and deep-fried chicken, but start your meal with a sashimi assortment of the day!
The place definitely warrants a few more visits as I could not possibly exhaust the menu, even in the company of my bulky friend!

Nikomanma
432-8003 Hamamatsu City, Wachiyama, 3-4-3
Tel. & Fax: 053-4725558
Working hours: 18:00~24:00
Closed on Sundays
Homepage
Credit cards OK

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YUMESHIN

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Yumeshin opened in early 2006 and I had always meant to “have a look at it”.
The almost simple outside actually hides quite an interesting place: Absolutely Japanese with a “kotatsu seki” (Seats on the floor with a deep space for the legs) all along a good size counter.
Botlles of shochu absolutely everywhere! I even recognized “Mitake” from Yakushima!
Interestingly enough, Mr. Yamaoka serves only one shochu from Shizuoka Ken:
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Saisuke by Sugii Brewery/Distillery in Fujieda City.
Mr. Yamaoka actually participates to its creaion every year at Sugii Brewery/Distillery!
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The Master of the place is a quiet person at first contact, but will warm up quickly to the conversation. He has acquired quite a clientele in this very short span of time who come not only to taste the interminable list of shochu, but also taste the very Japanese izakaya-style food:
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Ankimo (Frogfish liver) & Tempura (succulent!)
As this was my first visit, I will have to write a few more postings: there are a lot of morsels to explore with the drinks!

Yumeshin
Shizuoka Shi Aoi Ku, Chiyoda, 1-2-1 (along the Kitakaido. A few minutes from Shizuoka Center by car, 5 minutes by bicyle, 20 minutes on foot. Bus stop nearby)
Tel./fax: 0542473651
Open every day from 16:00 till very late at night (morning!)
Very reasonable

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