Saturday, September 5, 2009

Izakaya 居酒屋

I decided to renew this blog. Our wine blog "winepath.blogspot.com" has been going for some years chronicling our weekly wine tasting. The initial intent of this blog was to post whatever remarks I may have but not suitable or appropriate for winepath blog. Obviously I have not posted a new blog for 2 years. We (my wife and I) like food and wine and especially fond of series of small dishes go well with drinks. Tapas will be the most well known for this category of food in US. Another is Izakaya (居酒屋) food from Japan. Every time we go back and visit Japan, we made a bee line to some of our favorite Izakayas. Izakaya is a small drinking establishments in Japan which started
out in sake stores. They provided sake and small dishes go with sake
on the premises for their customers. But in recent years, it is getting more and more difficult to find small chef-owned Izakayas. These are replaced by "chain" izakayas like you see here in Ginza. The chain stores are not all bad and come in many different levels from cheap to expensive. They are aimed at different clientele. In general, the food is fairly uniform (probably the majority being prepared in a central kitchen or factory). The chain stores are characterized by plastic laminated menus depicting the food in color pictures--somewhat similar to American fast food restaurants.

 
We can enjoy something similar (ordering small dishes or appetizers a la carte) in some Japanese restaurants as well. Some Western-style restaurants also put more effort into making a series of small dishes such in Komi and Minibar in Washington DC (of course, similar restaurants are in many other cities as well). But for us, atmosphere of Izakayas, their food are most enjoyable and sometime we resort to recreating these at home.

Recently, we came across very interesting book called "Izakaya. The Japanese Pub Cookbook" by Mark Robinson. He was born in Tokyo and grew up in Sidney but now lives in Tokyo for some time. We are impressed that he really understood and captured all the essence of Izakaya we love. I do not know how many people who read this will try to make dishes in this book. I have already made many of the regular Izakaya affaires (called "teiban" or 定番) but was also inspired by this book. We communicated via email and Mark was kind enough to share his extra copy of the book which is considered in Japan as the bible of Izakaya exploration by Kazuhiko Ohta.

My intention is not to prepare dishes in this book. "Making-all-dishes-in-a-cookbook-and-blog-about-it" appears to be very popular activities among food bloggers ("Julie and Julia", even made it to a movie). I just wanted to share some of our Izakaya-inspired dishes, which my wife and I enjoy from time to time.

1 comment:

saberman99 said...

Great blog. Fascinating and interesting. We are very much impressed.