Shizuoka Izakaya: Katayurimo

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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!)!

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

Shizuoka Izakaya: Oikawa

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Shizuoka is certainly witnessing a remarkable revival of its traditional izakaya thanks to many young(ish) enterprising restaurateurs, but some “old hands” are still leaving their mark on the local gastronomic scene for the benefit of all.

Mr. and Mrs. Yamamoto, who are well into their seventies, opened Oikawa no more than 11 years ago, proving there is no set age to start new ventures!

The popularity of their izakaya has never abated since it opening, and I can tell from personal experience that you had better make reservations on weekends!
One reason for their popularity lies in their proximity to Shin Shizuoka Center, but conveniently located in a fairly quiet side street and less than 15 minutes walk away from Shizuoa JR Station.
The owners and their staff are very warm, if busy, individuals who will take the time to introduce the food and drinks they serve and answer any questions. And if you happen to come from outside our Prefecture you will definitely feel the need to ask a few!

Sashimi are seasonal only, and if I were you I would not bother much with the menu and just ask for the chef’s recommendation of the day. You just cannot make a mistake!
Look at the set we were served last week:
“maguro/tuna”, “Hirame/sole”, “Shime saba/pickled mackerel”, “Shirasu/Sardine whiting” (freshly caught in Suruga Bay) and “Yude tako/boiled octopus”, with plenty of locally grown vegetables.
Now, hungry people will have a field day although they might need a Japanese-speaking friend to help them read all the morsels described above your head, but I would recommend:

“Kara-age kuro hanpen/deep-fried sardine fish paste, a Shizuoka specialty.

Tenpura: the one featured above is “Ashitaba plant”.
Any tenpura of the day should please you as vegetables are supremely fresh and plentiful in Shizuoka Prefecture.

Talking of tenpura, Oikawa is famous for its “Kimchee Tenpura”, a very crispy and tasty invention of theirs!

The “Musubi/rice ball” being enormous, I would suggest you to order them one at a time!

Great traditional atmosphere and food, but the one reason I would take anyone there is their incredible range of Shizuoka Jizake!
Just go through the list below (written down last week, and more to come apparently!):
Shosetsu (1-Yui Cho), Masu Ichi (1-Shizuoka City), Hatsukame (4-Shida Gun), Isojiman (2-Yaizu City), Suginishiki (1-Fujieda City), Shidaizumi (1-Fujieda City), Kikuyoi (3-Fujieda City), Wakatake (1-Shimada City), Morimoto (2-Kikugawa City), Kaiun (1-Kakegawa City), Kokkou (2-Fukuroi City), Eikun (1-Yui Cho), Fujinishiki (1-Fujinomiya City), Takasago (1-Fujinomiya City), and Sanwa (1-Shimizu Ku)!

Shizuoka City, Aoki-Ku, Takajo, 1-11, Sano Bldg
Tel.: 054-272-6551
Business hours: 17:00~23:00
Closed on Sundays and Mondays

Shizuoka Izakaya: Hana Oto

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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!

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

Today’s Bento/Lunch Box (9)

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Today is this kind of grotty day you have no wish to go outside and prefer to stay cozy at home or at work. In my case since it is a work day, the Missus prepared the kind of bento a hard-working (whom am I fooling?) man welcomes: hearty, healthy and well-balanced (Rowena will say that this time I’m making it up! On the other I know a certain Carlos who might convince his dear one to take notice. LOL):

On a (not that thick, and covering only two thirds of the bottom) bed of steamed rice coated with a layer of fresh “hime mitsuba/”princess trefoil” she placed “ton toro katsu” seasoned with “tare/Japanese sauce”. “Ton” means “pork”, “toro” is the fatty meat of tuna and “katsu” means “cutlet. You could translate the lot “fatty soft pork cutlets fried in batter”. Lighter than you might think.
Bottom middle are a couple of “rakkyo/pickled Japanese shallots”.
Top are cherry tomatoes, some “wasabizuke/wasabi plant pickled in sake kasu/sake white lees”, home-made pickled wasabi plants. To finish a semi-soft boiled egg sprinkled with black sesame seeds.
With a couple of biscuits and mini-bottle of yoghurt drink, I must say I should stay healthy until the next drink!

Sakuraebi Spring Fishing Season started!

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(Courtesy of Shizuoka Shinbun, April 3rd, 2008)

The Sakuraebi/Sakura Shrimp Spring Fishing Season was officially started two days late because of inclement weather but the first batches were auctioned in the early hours of April 2nd in Yui, the only harbour having the license to do so.
The catch has been good as three times as much as usual was sold, that is a total of 67 tonnes.
Their price went on the average 40,000 yen per case (about 15 kg).
Don’t forget you can sample them directly at Yui Harbour’s food stands!

Bryan Baird’s Newsletter

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Baird Beer & Taproom Events Bulletin 2008 #9

Dear Taproom Friend & Baird Beer Enthusiast:

Spring has arrived and it has brought with it two new Baird Beer seasonal brews: Pacific Porter & Imperial Belgian Red Ale.

(1) Pacific Porter (ABV 6.6%):

This is the Baird Beer version of a Baltic Porter (a strong dark beer fermented with lager yeast that has enjoyed historical popularity in Baltic region countries). The color is deep copper-brown. The aroma is soft, round and fruity with a hint of chocolate. The body is chewy but not thick.
Subtly sweet flavors of caramel and milk chocolate are highlighted magnificently by an underbelly of nut and pit fruit character. The overall impression is one of smoothness and balance.

(2) Imperial Belgian Red Ale (ABV 8.1%):

This is a Belgian-style ale fermented with a blend of two yeasts. Additions of Japanese red sugar serve to add color, lighten the body and dry the flavor by increasing the alcohol content. Brewed in June 2007 and packaged in November 2007, Imperial Belgian Red has been dry-hopped with English East Kent Golding and Fuggle hops. At packaging, it was kraeusened with our
Angry Boy Brown Ale. The color is bright copper-red and a berry-like fruit aroma wafts from the glass. The body is light and zesty and the finish is dry but pleasantly fruity with a tinge of alcohol warmth.

Both beers are new being served at our Fishmarket Taproom in Numazu and will be available at fine Baird Beer retailers throughout Japan. The bottle-conditioned versions (360 ml bottles) are set, also, to be sold direct to consumers via our new eStore. The new eStore will be up and
running on Tuesday, April 8. Credit card payments will be accepted at the new eStore and all bottle-conditioned Baird Beer year-round and seasonal brews will be sold through it. The eStore is the official one of Baird Brewing but will be managed and run (including order fulfillment) by Nide, Inc. Please visit the store, kick the tires and let us know what you think

The winds of change are blowing strongly here in Spring 2008. So strongly, in fact, that they are carrying with them across the Pacific Ocean to the United States the first export shipment of Baird Beer. 850 cases of Rising Sun, Red Rose, Angry Boy, Kurofune, Carpenter’s Mikan and Temple Garden Yuzu are now in transit to New York Harbor. The importer is the Shelton Brothers (HOMEPAGE) which specializes in the discovery, importation and sale of first-rate small brewery beers from all around the world. This is their first go at a Japanese craft beer but it won’t be the last. If you live in the United States, shoot these guys an email to find out how to get your hands on some very limited Baird Beer.

Finally, we still are hunting for passionate individuals to work at our new Nakameguro Taproom (set to open on May 10). The work will be satisfying and the potential for upward movement great.
Bryan Baird

Baird Brewing Company
Numazu, Japan

Gastronomic Destinations: New Caledonia (4)

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After we visited the recently expanded New Caledonia Aquarium (the only one featuring live phosphorescent corals in the World!) and a long walk in town, we thought it was grand time to try a purely “local” restaurant for lunch away from the ubiquitous tourist traps.
They do exist!

Le Patio somewhat looks like a Caribbean diner, although the atmosphere inside reminisces more of Southern France.
Actually, the owners who opened last year are from French Britanny and offer true galettes and crepes!
But we were in for lighter fare.
We were more interested in their salads. And they are of giant (American?) size. They certainly would tempt Foodhoe (LOL)!
The Missus asked for the marinated tuna and seafood salad. Why did I have the impression we were not that from home in Shizuoka…
I opted for the grilled chicken salad. Afer all, we had been eating all kinds of seafood. Well, the Missus could not help taking the best bits and leaving me with all the lettuce! Mind you, I love my greens!
Which left me with some space for the cheese directly brought from France.
The Missus, for all her being bent on wine, did not have any space left.
Which was perfect with me, as I still had plenty of the local beer, Havannah, left to drink!
The weather being very hot (38 degrees), we decided to keep in the shade while digesting and looking the local play that very French game, Petanque!
Not a bad way to spend the first half of the day!

37, rue de Verdun, Noumea, Nouvelle-Caledonie
Tel.: (687)284219