Category Archives: 居酒屋

Japanese Gastronomy Traditions: O-Tooshi, Tsuki-Dashi, First Snack with First Drink at Izakayas

Celery and seaweed fried in sake at Yasaitei

Non-Japanese are always surprised to see a light food dish coming automatically with the ifrst drink ordered at most izakayas in Japan.
It is called O-Tooshi/お通し or Tsuki-Dashi/突き出し in Japanese.
It is a tradition in Japan, but misunderstandings may arise as you will be billed for it.
It is not complimentary. In the latter case, the owner or staff will clearly say” Saabisu desu!/サービスです!On the house!”.
Now, why such a tradition, definitely somewhat alien to Westerners?
There are two ways to consider it, the positive way and the negative way.
Like bad and good surprises let me start with the negative way, although I’ve learnt not to be so in this country!

Vegetables, wakame and octopus o-hitashi at Yasaitei

The negative way:

The izakaya can adapt/arrange/recreate leftovers of the previous day/night and serve them for a profit.
It replaces the notorious “cover charge” in clubs and bars.
The unscrupulous izakaya (and that includes big chains in general!) can serve dead cheap food (frozen edamame and the like imported from China) and make an immediate profit especially if the establishement is large and busy.
You may refuse right away the o-tooshi or tsuki-dashi by immediately saying “o-tooshi Katto shite kudasai/お通しカットして下さい!” but you will have to be quick and you will establish a durable tight-fisted reputation among your Japanese friends or colleagues although Westerners might judge you as a sharp guy/lass…
Mind you, there are times when I do feel tp leave the thing untouched and point out later that I didn’t order or eat it, but you must be fluent in Japanese… In any case, I do not patronize such profiteering establishments!

Spicy edamame o-hitashi at Yasaitei

The positive way:

On the other hand, the real and honest, if still driven by economic reasons, purpose is:
First to enable customers to enjoy some food with their first drink while their orders are processed. After all for all the drink you might consume you still have chosen the place for its food (unless you are gravely mistaken!)!
Second, the o-tooshi will give you a very faithful idea of the level and skills of the izakaya (unless you are absolutely unlucky or made yourself a nuisance!).

Grilled kampachi/Amberjack with zucchini and tomato puree at Yasaitei

I personally make a rule to remember and record the o-tooshi served to me at my favorite (and expensive) izakaya and Japanese restaurants. They actually make for great gastronomic study and research. After all, a good establishment will rarely serve the same o-tooshi two days running!

Here are some samples collected in my favorite haunts:

Pan-fried spicy lotus roots and tuna at Hana Oto

Various o-tooshi at Takano

Tuna tartatre at Sushi Ko

Buckwheat tofu with kinako powder at Setsugekka Soba Restaurant

Sake-steamed cockles ar narusei Tempura Restaurant

Seared tuna at Waga

Next time you visit a japanese Izakaya or restaurant you will understand why the first impression is always so important!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in kanzai by Nevitt Reagan!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

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Izakaya: Table Ribbon in Shizuoka City!

Service: Easy-going, informal and friendly
Facilities and equipment: Clean. Psychedelic Washroom!
Prices: Reasonable
Strong points: Typical Japanese izakaya food and drinks for all ages. Open late.

MAP (Japanese)

Sometimes (actually as often as possible) it is a good idea to take a break from the great restaurants in Shizuoka and to mingle with great easy and friendly customers and staff in a typical Japanese izakaya!
There are loads of them in town and some open until really late!
I have just discovered one which seems to be extremely popular with the locals of all ages, genders and classes: Table Ribbon!

The whole place right from the entrance is a happy bric a brac from vinyl covered kitchen tables to rugs on the floor!
You must visit the washroom! It is definitely crazy!

The whole menu is written in brush paint, but if you don’t understnad don’t worry you will be able to communicate!

As I said the food and drinks are typical izakaya fare: from pasta…

nikomino/Japanese simmered food…

deep-fried sausages…

If you ask for room-temperature Japanese sake it is served in a tea pot!

Great vegetable tamagoyaki! A must try!

I loved their sui-gyoza/boiled gyoza!

Savory beansprouts!

And of course Shizuoka-style yakisoba!

It is a busy place! Make sure to reserve on week-ends!
Great fun for ladies and gentleemn, Japanese and expats!

TABLE RIBBON
420-0044 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Seimon Cho, 1-22, Takuma Bldg, 1F (10 minutes walk from JR station North exit)
Tel.: 054-8670-1937/090-8670-1937
Opening hours: 17:00~02:00
Closed on Mondays

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Izakaya Gastronomy: Villa D’Est Quisine in Shizuoka City (Fall 2011)

Service: Friendly and unassuming
Facilities: old-fashioned but very clean with cute washroom
Prices: reasonable
Strong points: Home-style seasonal cuisine. Wines, sake and shochu. Very traditional Japanese atmosphere! Patronized by true izakaya gastronomy lovers!

In a city like Shizuoka, almost notoriously famous for its many hidden gastronomic havens, many true izakaya lovers will keep their own favorite hangout as secret as possible. Personally, I don’t think this is very fair, but at the same time you do not want to advertize too much such establishments for fear that uncaring customers spoil the atmosphere. On the other hand, if you wish to share and promote taste for good food, drink and atmosphere, you do have a duty to make such gastronomic venues better known.

In my case I hesitate to patronize Villa D’Est Quisine too often as it is very near my workplace, and it is not a good idea in Japan to revel too close to your professional address.
Therefore I keep my visits away from the week-ends when too many people are present for comfort. On the other hand, visiting an izakaya at comparatively quiet times will almost surely offer the opportunity to meet and discover like-minded souls!

Villa D’Est Quisine has many reasons to please:
It is located away from the centre of town in one of the few original and still left untouched alleys of fashionable Takajyo District.
It exudes a quaint warm atmosphere, almost taking you back ages away with its unusual architecture all of dark aged wood with a counter, large table and an elevated tatami, original ceramic tableware, hand-brushed daily menu, potted plants and wall pictures.
The food is eclectic, concocted with mainly local products to satisfy any taste, be it Japanese or of whatever country.
The short and very efficient list of Japanese sake, shochu and wine will ensure that your food marries well with your drinks.
The Chef, Toshiharu Matsuura, has an unflappable will to please customers with a quiet respect for privacy, although you will always find him ready for a great conversation.

Two nights ago, we decided to flee the city noisily celebrating a coming holiday and enjoy some welcome slow life there. It proved momentous as we had the luck to make acquaintance with two new like-minded friends!
The tone was immediately set with the first drink, a nectar from Morimoto Brewery in Kikugawa City, served in original pottery with a simple but succulent o-hitashi/lightly cooked and marinated appetizer made with vegetables including chrysanthemum petals!
The only reproach I would make is that although the place is comfortably dark it is not very propitious to photography!

You will be surprised to find out that the single sheet menu will take you longer to peruse than expected, so take your time before ordering!
Now the menu featured as its very first item “koshiodai/こしょう鯛/Peppered Seabream (litteral translation!)” sashimi.
I asked Toshiharu where he found the fish and he had a hard time evading my question. I suspect he caught it himself in Suruga Bay or acquired it in a market I know he patronizes!
The sashimi was not as soft as most as that of seabream but proved a great combination of fine taste and bite!

Amitake Oroshi daikon Ae/アミ茸下ろし大根和え/Jersey cow mushroom-suillus bovinus served with freshly grated daikon.

The above dish will endear vegetarians! Actually, if you have such a priority talk to the Chef and he will help you!

Tebasaki to yasai no kuriimu shityu/手羽先と野菜クリームシチュー/Chicken wings and Vegetables Cream Stew

Now, the above should please Westerners especially on a cold night! Very typical Japanese Izakaya offering in spite of its obvious Western inspiration!

Kaki fuwafuwa mushi/牡蠣ふわふわ蒸し/Steamed oysters with a light sauce served with grated wasabi.

The above is more typical of the Japanese treats concocted by Toshiharu! A discovery for oyster lovers!

An Izakaya Classic: Yurine to ebi kakiage/ユリ根と海老かき揚げ/Deep-fried lily bulb and shrimps!

When it comes to kakiage and tempura tha Japanese are simply the best!
Have you ever tried yurine/ユリ根/lily bulbs? A must!

Iro Iro Na Potato Furai/色々なポテトフライ/Varied fried potatoes

Another Izakaya classic! Three types of tubers: Thick Sweet Potato Chips, boiled and lightly fried potatoes and again boiled and lightly fried satoimo/里芋/taro!
A true delicacy for vegans and vegerarians!

And to think we only scratched the menu…

VILLA D’EST QUISINE
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Takajyo, 3-10-19
Tel.: 054-251-4763
Business hours: 17:00~24:00
Closed on Thursdays
Parties welcome
HOMEPAGE/BLOG (Japanese)
Smoking allowed

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With a Glass,
Clumsyfingers by Xethia
Adventures in Bento Making, American Bento, Beanbento, Bento No1, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box, My Bento Box, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat; Bento Lunch Blog (German); Adventures In Bento; Anna The Red’s Bento Factory; Cooking Cute; Timeless Gourmet; Bento Bug; Ideal Meal; Bentosaurus; Mr. Foodie (London/UK); Ohayo Bento

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

French Cuisine: Shizuoka Agricultural Products at Chez Satsukawa!

Service: Very friendly and easy-going, more professional in the “room”.
Facilities: very clean and beautiful washroom!
Prices: Reasonable
Strong points: French food in Izakaya style. Great sake and wines!

Fujio Satsukawa for all his experience is not afraid of new challenges.
Concocting and serving French food independently (our relation started before that!) since 1989, he is re-inventing himself with third restaurant which he had just opened on the 18th of December last year.

The concept obeys to the trends of the day with a combination of French bistro and Japanese Izakaya with a counter and tables in two different areas.

A collection of great vintage labels that a lot of officionados would like to lay their hands on!
It also means that he can offer both quality wines and top-class Shizuoka Sake with French dishes conceived either separately or as part of a course.

A cozy corner for patrons wishing for more privacy.

French gastronomy in a Japanese atmosphere!

Fujio Satsukawa gives preference to local products whenever possible.

Daikon, orange and pimento marinated in amazu/sweet vinegar.

Open vegetables quiche.

Now meat dishes are truly extravagant (and reasonable priced!): This grilled chicken comes all the way from Mr Aoki’s farm in Fujinomiya City! This chicken variety raised in our Prefecture is called Fuji Tori/富士鶏!

Shizuoka has been developing top-class meat for quit a while and a great part directly goes onto the Tokyo tables.
This pork is called Mangenton/満幻豚 and is raised by only two farmers in the city of Fujinomiya! This particular one was raised by Mr. Kuwahara!

For a closer view. The concept is definitely French although I had Japanese sake with it!

The roasted stuffed eggplant could be served in any restaurant!

Looking forward to start again a long relation!

CHEZ SATSUKAWA
420-0852 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Kooya Machi, 4-9, Matsunaga Kooya Machi Bldg, 2F
Tel.: 054-205-5133
Business hours: 12:00~14:00, 17:00~23:00
Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
Credit Cards OK

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow, Bread + Butter, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Think Twice, Frank Fariello, Mangantayon, Hapabento, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Tokyo Terrace, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles,Lexi, Culinary Musings, Wheeling Gourmet, Comestiblog, Chronicles Of A Curious Cook, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Palate To Pen, Yellin Yakimono Gallery, Tokyo Terrace, Hilah Cooking, More than a Mount Full, Arkonite Bento, Happy Little Bento; 5 Star Foodie; Jefferson’s Table; Oyster Culture; Gourmet Fury; Island Vittles; Good Beer & Country Boys; Rubber Slippers In Italy; Color Food daidokoro/Osaka;/a; The Witchy Kitchen; Citron Et Vanille, Lunsj Med Buffet/Estonian Gastronomy (English), Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Chrisoscope, Agrigraph, The Agriculture Portal to shizuoka!

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

Izakaya: Yukichi

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

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The city of Fujieda have seen a lot of changes these past years with more people coming to live there due to the crowding of nearby Shizuoka City. The old JR Station has disappeared to be replaced by a whole urban complex around both exits. It means that the city has more or less become the “bedtown” of Shizuoka City. It is not all negative as it has encouraged businesses, especially in the restaurateur’ field, to set shop for the benefit of returning workers and company employees.
And some of them are definitely worth visiting.

So, Patrick of Think Twice met me last Friday at Fujieda Station and we went to Yukichi I had a checked an hour before.

Yukichi is an izakaya of a better standard opened in 2005 and it is extremely popular. We were very lucky to get our seats as most were already reserved! Most customers are in their early 30’s.
Now as a general rule, one should patronize only izakaya who serve local sake/jizake. We were not disappointed: Yukichi has some great ones on hand from Aoshima Brewery/Kikuyoi (Fujieda City) and Hatsukame (Okabe Cho)!
I also always make a point to order a chef’s sashimi set recommendation.
The one we were served (see pic above) included not only great fish but succulent chicken sashimi. An acquired taste for some I must agree, but such an unusual combination.

Now, the fact that especially makes you want to come back to Yukichi is that the Lady in charge, Ms. Yoko Naruoka will come to show you a tray with the fresh fish of the day for you to choose from before the “banchyo/chef”, Mr. Masaki Kobayashi prepares your choice either as sashimi or cooked fish as you wish. We opted for “kisu tempura” and “maguro no kama yaki”!

As we had planned to visit another place later, we limited ourselves to a glass of each sake cited above with an extra serving of “tamago yaki” and took our leave with the promise to come back very soon!

Yukichi
Fujieda City, Ekimae, 1-7-21, taiko Bldg. 1F
Tel.: 054-6469494
Business hours: 17:00~24:00
Closed on Sundays and every second Monday

Mumaro Soba/Buckwheat Restaurant

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

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日本語のブログ
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In not so long past ages, the Japanese used to drink their sake and shochu, depending on the area they dwelt, at soba shops.
Slowly but surely better quality soba shops are making an effort to serve comparatively good sake and shochu.
Such an establishment can be found in Miyakochi, Hamamatsu City (formerly Hamakita City, a ten-minute car trip from Komatsu Station along the Entetsu private railway.
The fact that it opened its doors just beside Hana No mai Brwery/Distillery in 2004 is no coincidence!
mumaro2.jpg
It serves sake and shochu from the same Brewery, garanteeing fresh products of the highest quality.
The sake offered on the menu are a very dry junmai, a ginjo, and a dai ginjo
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All by the glass, 300ml or 720ml bottle.
They offer two shochu by Hana No Mai Brewery, Shizu, an extravagant kome/rice brew at a standard 25 degrees and a very strong one at 45 degrees called Aratama No Sato (the traditional of the region)
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As for the soba, they are excellent and of the extravagant “ju-wari” kind, all made on the premises, with an interesting “yaki soba miso” on the spoon (see above picture). They also offer for sale a great array of local honeys not to be missed.
The perfect place to eat soba after or before visiting their great neighour brewers!
The place is full most of the time and will sometimes close early as only soba made on the day are served.

Mumaro
Hamamatsu City, Hamakita, Miyakuchi, 619
Tel.: 053-5822212
Opening hours: 11:00~14:00, 17:00~20:00
Closed on Monday nights, and Tuesdays
Homepage

Izakaya: Bu-Ichi

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

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日本語のブログ
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Bu-Ichi has long been a special favourite of mine and has never disappointed over the years thanks to the shy chef’s constant attention to details and knack for discovering the right staff.
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From starters to main it is a succession of solid good quality izakaya fare.
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But Bu-Ichi’s forte is fish, either as fist-class sashimi or
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cooked, grilled or home-preserved.
The menu will take quite a few visits to exhaust.
Now all drinks are available, but sake from Shizuoka will satisfy anyone and does include some rarities such as:
Sayogoromo Honjozo (Morimoto Brewery), Kokkou Tokubetsu Junmai, Kikuyoi Junmai, Fujinishiki Daiginjo (who got the highest accolade for Daiginjo in 2007!), Hatsukame Junmai and Isojiman Honjozo!
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Bu-Ichi
420-0032 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Ryogae-cho, 1-6-10, Dai 2 Matsunaga Bldg. 2F
Tel.: 054-2521166
Closed on Wednesdays
Reservations advisable

Togakushi Soba/Buckwheat Restaurant

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

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日本語のブログ
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Togakushi is an institution in Shizuoka City where it has half a dozen restaurants. Contrary to most “chain restaurants”, it had to open branches since itsfounding in 1968 due to the constant demand. Even on a week day you might have to queue to find a table.
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My better (worse?) half and I chose to have a late lunch there at around 2:30 p.m. and had still to wait 10 good minutes. But it allowed us to get the best seat in the non-smoking area by the bay window opening onto a tiny garden.
Togakushi serves only soba, but in so many variations you will to come again to exhaust the menu. Even one of their creations, “Isooroshi” has been awarded a commercila patent!
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Now the good news for hungry people is that Togakushi has some excellent set menu for only 1,000 yen as shown on picture above!
For the sake lovers, Isojiman (Yaizu City!), one of the 10 most popular sake in Japan is on the menu!
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Togakushi Soba
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Seikan-Cho, 12-1
TEL:054-252-9470
FAX:054-221-8685
Closed on Wednesdays
(as for other restaurants, it might vary)

Homepage

Traditional Izakaya: Takano

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

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日本語のブログ
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I had meant for a long time to introduce one of, and probably, the oldest traditional izakaya in Shizuoka City, namely, Takano.
Conveniently situated near the JR Station, it was founded in 1923 and is presently looked after by the fourth generation in the person of Susumu Takano (36) who has the advantage of speaking fluent English. His parents and relatives are still near to give a hand, and he certainly needs all their help as the place usually is packed by 5 p.m.!
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I could not postpone the visit any longer when my good friends Neil and Mark agreed to all meet there last night (May 18th) in the company of a lady friend, Miki, and Mark’s better half later.
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I made sure to take their picture before we became hopelessly overwhelmed by our drinking as usually happens in the company of those two Englishmen, especially when I can drag them from the beer into sake!
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Food at Takano is plentiful, very reasonable and of good quality. Always ask for the sashimi assortment if you want to know what we people in Shizuoka eat.
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And do not miss the specialty of Shizuoka, Sakura Ebi as Tempura or Kakiage. You will never tire of it!
Susumu is a fan of shochu, but he has obtained some good jizake by associating his establishment with Haginishiki Brewery (Shizuoka City, Suruga Ku)
For hot (kan) sake you have Haginishiki Honjyozo
We decided to taste all the cold jizake available:
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Haginishiki “Minami Alps” Tokubetsu Honjozo
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Haginishiki Toro No Sato Tokubetsu Junmai
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Haginishiki Junmai Ginjyo
We asked for three more bottles of the last one!
By that time, I was getting a bit fuzzy and decided to postpone further experiences to future articles!

Takano
420-0852 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Koya Machi, 5-4 (behind Parco Dpt. Store)
Tel.: 0542510131
Business hours: 17:00~22:00
Closed on Sundays