Shizuoka Izakaya: Drinking History at Yasaitei

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Last night I was invited by the owners of Odakkui, Katayurimo and Hana Oto Izakayas to share a very special bottle of sake (above pic).
This sake, a superlative Daiginjo, had been brewed back in 1997 by Okada Brewery which eventually ceased operations in 2006. In spite of its old age (for a sake) it had preserved in perfect condition all the time at very cold temperature by a collector cum liquor shop, Matsunagaya in Shizuoka City.
For the connoiseurs, this Daiginjyo is called Okinabeneten, brewed by Okada Brewery in Fujieda City. Rice: Yamada Nishiki milled down to an extravagant 35%. The yeast was a Shizuoka NEW-5 Yeast. Dryness is only +7~+9 and acidity a very low 1.0~1.3. The drawing process was “Fune shibori/tank press”. Alcohol was standard 15~16 degrees.
A great sake, so pleasant to drink with a dry elegant entry, short tail and a complex and rich aroma and taste. Tended to show different facets with food, alternatively turning drier and sweeter. An incredibly extravagant sake to drink with food. We drank it both chilled and heated.

Now, what did we eat with such a nectar?
First of all, sashimi of course. Not one kind, but two!
First seafood sashimi as shown on pic above:
(From top clockwise) Fresh Shirasu/baby sardines, Akami/lean tuna, Madai/red snapper, Hotategai/scallops, Katsuo/bonito. In the centre is boiled Tako/octopus. The whole was provided with wasabi (real one!), grated ginger, myoga cut into very fine strips and chopped thin leeks.

Yasai sashimi/vegetables sashimi, the specialty of the house. Great juicy and crunchy cucumber, daikon, red radishes, celery (Shizuoka Prefecture produces half of all celery in Japan!), myoga and sweet red pimento. You probably noticed the big shiso leaf concealing chopped sweet onions. A treat for vegetarians (and vegans!)!

Yasatei is also renown for its superlative Kansai-style oden!

And finally another treat for vegetarians: renkon/lotus roots sauteed with soy sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds!

Great food for a great sake!

Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwa-Cho, 1-6-2 Green Heights Wamon 1-C
Tel.: 054-2543277
Business hours: 17:30~22:00
Closed on Sundays
Reservations highly recommended

Today’s Bento/Lunch Box (31)

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Yesterday’s bento was a bit of repeat with the main difference that residing with the chicken.

The rice came under the form of three distinct nigiri/rice balls half-wrapped in fresh green shiso/perilla: Sweet seaweed/konbu, finely chopped Japanese pickled cucumber and umeboshi/pickled Japanese plums. Three plum tomatoes for the vitamin C and some French cornichons.

The deep-fried chicken were whole thighs on the bones. I did eat them with my fingers wrapped in the fresh lettuce after having pressed the lemon slice over them.
This time dessert was not forgotten with some processed cheese and seedless Japanese grapes!

French Cuisine: Dinner at Les Cinqs

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It did take time after all to finally be able to enjoy dinner with friends at Tetsuya Sugimoto’s new restaurant, Les Cinqs, but it certainly was worth all the waiting!

(Cremant de Bourgogne, Blancs de Blancs, GAEC Rousset)

My friends being wine-lovers, we skipped the great Shizuoka Sake on their special list and explored the extensive wine menu. After some hesitation whether we would go for some Champagne, we chose a Cremant de Bourgogne, which is always yen for yen (or euro for euro) far better value than their overpriced cousins. The only difference being the locale, we were not disappoined and started the dinner on a great note.

The great menu could be described as a course three times repeated as almost came in three varieties.
The first amuse was Gougeres au Pate de Porc. My American friend could not help comment he was eating a mini French hamburger! He genially pointed out it was certainly better value than some famous/notorious brands.

The second amuse was Mousse de Fromage blanc. Light, almost ethereal, it was accented with a touch of Argan oil from Morocco.

The third amuse was a Salade de Calamar: raw cuttle-fish cut in thin strips and decorated with delicately chopped vegetables and a few extra-mini tomatoes. The cuttle fish was counterbalanced with a mixed fish tartare.

The first hors d’oeuvre/starter came in the shape of “Goma-Dango”/ deep-fried sesame ball with Japanese anko/sweetmeat and foie gras inside served with aloe jelly and a small glass of Sweet white Jurancon.

The second hors d’oeuvre was a salad of smoked salmon trout from Fujinomiya City (it takes them three years to reach maturity and your plate!) topped with a salad of fine vegetables and edible flowers grown locally, and topped with an emulsion.

(Gevrey-Chambertin, 2003, Red, Domaine-Rossignol-Trajet)

The Cremant had disappeard by then, and it was grand time to start some serious drinking. We chose a nectar from my (French) sister in law’s village, Gevrey-Chambertin. This is a celebrated wine and does not really need another compliment. Just let me tell you that it was full with red fruits and drnk so smoothly in spite of his young age!

And then it was back to the third hors d’oeuvre: Potage froid de Potiron. The simple explanation does not pay justice to the sublime taste of Ebisu Kabotcha/Ebisu Pumpkin grown in Hamamatsu City!

At long last the first main course: Poelee de Rouget aux Champignons sauvages/skillet red sanpper (amadai in Japanese) from Ogawa Bay and wild mushrooms freshly picked at the foot of Mount Fuji!

The second main course was a discovery: Roti de Pigeonneau/Roasted young Pigeon. This was the first I saw and tasted it under such a concept. Can you see the half head with its brains (cooked). I ate the whole lot, brains, skull and beak! Yes, you read it, and it was a beautiful experience (stop shooting, will ya?)!

The day’s Granite to help us along to the dessert was another discovery: Granite de sureau/Elder Tree Flowers Granite! I might ask fiends in North America for some explanations!

The first dessert was a Gelee de Raisin/ Fresh Kyohou seedless grapes groen in Hamamatsu City in the own jelly. A continuation of the Granite!

The second dessert was a Gateau au Chocolat. Sorry, I did not listen to the explanation lost as I was in the next sight!

(1967 LBV Port/ Real Oporto, P. EALCA VELHA)

Mr. Sugimoto had brought a present from a friend on the table: Port wine! What with the chocolate cake, the mignardises and coffee, it just made for the perfect final combination!

Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Shichiken-cho, 17-14, Amble Court 1F (along north side of Aoba Park beyond Aoba Park Police Box)
Tel.: 054-251-7728
Cards OK
Reservations recommended (obligatory for the counter and private rooms!)

Shizuoka Izakaya: Bu-Ichi (re-visited)

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(Oumuraya Brewery, Hakuen Bishamon Honjozo)

The Missus has this special liking for Bu-Ichi Izakaya (which I share!), not only because she loves the food, drinks and atmosphere, but also because she always happens to learn something new she will be glad to try reproduce (in her own way) back home! I’m not one to complain, and I certainly enjoy writing about the place over and over again!

One thing is certain: this is one the very best places in the whole Prefecture to enjoy sashimi as once again demonstrated by the succulent katsuo/bonito served with grated ginger and thinly-chopped leeks.

Another reason is the top-class Shizuoka Sake!
I (my wife drinks wine as a matter of course) chose this very limited edition (only 300 bottles) by Oumuraya Brewery in Shimada (Tim, are you reading?):
Hakuen Bishamon, Honjozo, a very soft, almost sweet sake (Dryness: +1, acidity: 1.3).

Sanma/Mackerel Pike is in season. We ordered a yaki sanma sarada/grilled mackerel pike salad. The fish is first grilled, then shred into small bite-sized chunks and served with vegetables and home-made dressing. This is the recipe that the Missus has a special interest for!

Talking of vegetables,Bu-Ichi, in spite of all its great fish and meat, would be the perfect place for a vegetarian too thanks to perfect vegetables tenpura! Wherever they come from, they are always exlusively seasonal!

With such meals, sake tends to disappear too quickly! My next order was a Kikuyoi Tokubetsu Junmai by Aoshima Brewery in Fujieda City. Mr. Aoshima makes superlative sake getting recognition all over Japan in spite of its relatively small size. Incidentally he also speaks fluent English for those who would like to visit his brewery!

As we are both omnivores, we felt a little meat was in order to finish our meal (we usually skip dessert in Japanese restaurants as there is always the open possibility to visit another one later!).
Bu-Ichi serves a scrumptious sansho tori karaage/fried chicken with Japanese pepper. A beauty that my American friends in particular would swim across oceans to taste!

Look forward to the next meal there!

420-0032 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Ryogae-cho, 1-6-10, Dai 2 Matsunaga Bldg. 2F
Tel.: 054-2521166
Closed on Wednesdays
Reservations advisable

Simple Recipes: Shiso/perilla Flowers and Leaves

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I felt compelled to answer a question from Rowena and provide some useful information on “shiso” or perilla/beefsteak plant in a simple posting that I hope will help Japanese food lovers and vegetarians!

First of all, one can grow shiso, be it green or violet, almost anywhere as long as you have plenty of sunshine and water opportune times (as long as you water it yourself, fine!).
For example, Rowena presently lives in Italy and has successfully grown some from seeds I sent her.

Seeds should be planted in March/ April. The hotter the prevailing climate, the earlier it should be done. Prepare some moist vegetables-growing soil and make small shallow holes on top at a comfortable distance from each other. drop 2 or 3 seeds in each hole. Cover with more soil and spread a newspar sheet over the lot. Keep in shade. Once the first shoots have come out, take newspaper out and expose to sun all day long. Water morning and evening at the base of the stems, not on the leaves (or they wuld “burn”!).

By August (or earlier) to September the shiso will start flowering!
These flowers, if picked early enough are edible!

(Pic taken at Tomii)
Reputable Sushi and Japanese restaurants extensively use them all year round. They make for exquisite decoration and are really tasty!

Now, if you want your own seeds, wait until the folwers and stems turn brown and shake them over a plate. You should get plenty of minuscule seeds for the following year. I checked this very morning with my neighbour, a retired farmer who is looking after his own garden. He said there is little use to keep them indoors in winter unless you want to start a greeh House business with all the hassles involved! Just collect the seeds and replant! Actually such seeds could become a source of business in Italy and elsewhere!

Now, the leaves can be accomodated in hundred of ways. Pick them up young and tender enough. The Missus keep them in a plastic Tupperware-type box with a sheet of clean kitchen paper imbibed with clean water (put it at the bottom of the box) before storing it in the fridge vegetables compartment.

You can wrap them around nigiri/rice balls instead of nori/seaweed.

(Pic taken at Oddakui)

Make a liberal use of them with sashimi!

They are also great as tenpura!
Do not hrow away the small or damaged leaves. Chop them fine and add them to fresh salads or to any stews and ratatouille!

The violet variety is edible of course, although the Japanese do not use for decoration like the gree one, except for the flowers.
They usually pickle them for their sake or add them to other pickled vegetables such as cucumber.
They also make juice, sherbet or sauces with them, too.

French Cuisine: Hana Hana Lunch

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Typhoon 13 still keeping me away from Cricket, I decided it was about time to check on one of my favourite Frestaurants in Shizuoka!
Hana Hana has the merit not only to serve good food at very reasonable prices, but also to be very relaxed about it. Thinking of what, if customers relaxed a bit more too it would be the perfect place to enjoy lunch on a rainy afternoon!

Week days or not, they propose three plentiful set lunches for 1,680 yen, but I prefer to raise the ante a little and go for the 3,000 yen (less than 30$) menu which allows to choose one dish each from 5 starters, 7 main dishes and 5 desserts, bread, butter, amuse and coffee/tea included!

Like the menu, the amuse are essentially seasonal. The sweet red pimento mousse was certainly a discovery for all its simplicity. The right little morsel to encourage you ask for a glass of wine. I actually found out that not a single person out of the dozen guests (Hana Hana is a fairly small cozy place) was drinking wine. They don’t know what they miss!

Choosing the “starter” actually took me some time. I finally opted for a light fare, Suwa Crab Salad. Light, tasty and elegant, it spurred my appetite onto a favourite Hana Hana dish:

“Stuffed Quail”. I never bothered to ask the Chef what came into the stuffing as it tends to vary. I’m pretty sure that this time it included some foie gras. The quail is roasted to prefection. The sauce has great sweet and peppery balance. The vegetables are all seasonal, including the new potatoes with their skin.

But one day I will ask the Chef where he finds these enormous quails. I can guarantee you I sucked every bit of flesh off its fat legs to the dismay of my manner-conscious neighbours. When something is good, do not be afraid of using your fingers! I felt in a bit of wicked mood and I made a point of licking my fingers!

Finally it came to enjoy dessert.
Now, I’m sure that Taste Memory Girl, Rowena and all the ladies with a sweet tooth would have liked to kick me out of my chair to steal that one morsel (I will have to find a way to notify you all one day!!
Caramel Creme Brulee tooped with a generous Caramel Ice-Cream!
Need I describe it?
My neighbours had turned envious by then!

Hana Hana
420-0037 Shizuoka City, Hitoyado-cho, 1-3-12
Tel. & Fax: 054-221-0087
Business hours: 11:30~15:00, 17:30~22:00
Credit Cards OK
Closed on Wednesdays

Today’s Bento/Box Lunch (30)

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Today’s Saturday, a heavy work day. As Typhoon 13 menaced to come back again the Missus thought it would be better to see me off all day!
As I had requested Tamagoyaki/Japanese Omelette, she had it ready in a jiffy!

She steamed rice with thinly chopped fresh ginger roots (it is the season. You can them raw with miso paste!), made nigiri/rice balls, topped them with Japanese cucumber pickles and half wrapped hem in shiso/perilla leaves.
On a bed of lettuce she set the Japanese omelette (she mixed the eggs with flying fish roe) cut to size with French cornichons.

The salad consisted of finely chopped raw veg with pieces of processed chees, fried sausages, plum tomatoes and cress on which I poured some dressing kept in the office fridge.

Blimey, she forgot the dessert again!

Shizuoka Beer: Kuraya Narusawa Brewery

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Sometime in the mid-90’s the Japanese Government (Tax Office) made a momentous decision by greatly reducing the minimum output required for a beer brewery to obtain a license. This gave birth to a plethora of micro-breweries, most of the time coupled with restaurants and other ventures, all over Japan. Shizuoka Prefecture, for good and bad, did not escape the trend. At one time our Prefecture counted more than 15 of them. Only 9 have survived to this day, a good enough proof the present establishments are above average (this is a very personal opinion!). But one must keep in mind that Shizuoka Prefecture is nearly the ideal place to brew beer. It is blessed with the best natural water in the whole of Japan and a long and exceptional experience in brewing sake as I will explain later.

Kuraya Narusawa Brewery is located in the Northern part of Izu Peninsula, one of the most visited regions in Japan. Access is pretty simple and you do not need a car which will present from enjoying your favourite drink: get to Mishima Station (Bullet train or Tokaido), board the train to train to Shuzenji and get off at Izu Nagaoka Station where a billboard sign will confirm you are in the right place! A taxi will take you there in a few minutes (less than 900 yen).

Kuraya Narusawa, founded on the 4th of July 1997 three months after they obtained their license, harbours more than a mere micro-brewery.

It is responsible for the maintenance of a noted historical asset: the “Nirayama Hanshyaro”/Nirayama Ship Gun Foundry, the only left intact in the whole country. It took no less than three years to build between 1854 and 1857 and was first conceived in Shimoda City before move whole to Nirayama.

Shizuoka Prefecture producing 70% of the national green tea and Izu Peninsula being a major growing area, no wonder that Kuraya Narusawa also grow and sell their own tea, mainly “Yabukita and Okuhikari, a total of 10,000 kg of raw leaves. Tea lovers will be interested to learn that they can actually participate to the harvest in April~May and October~November.

Local crafts lovers and collectors will be happy to learn this place is noted for its “Tsurushi Kazari”/”Hanging Decorations”. An annual exhibition is held in site on 370 square meters with more than 750 of them both for boys and girls between the end of December and March 31st!

I had made a special appointment for an interview with the company before I arrived on a very hot afternoon last Friday in the company of a friend whose haouse almost stands next door.
The manager, Mr. Hironori Imamura, a very quiet smiling gentleman was markedly a bit nervous at first. But when he later realized that my lady companion was actually the daughter of one of the biggest strawberry growers in the area (he even mentioned her father by nickname!), he markedly relaxed and warmed up to my questions.
He took us right away inside the actual brewery run by his master brewer Atsushi Watanabe.
The gentleman does everything by himself from roasting to bottling, with a total output of 50 Kl!

Grain mainly come from the States and Europe, while most of the hops is imported from the Czech Republic.

Mr. Watanabe produces three regular brews all year long: Tarozaemon Pale Ale, Yorimoto Porter and American Ale. He also have some great fun brewing five to six seasonal beers.
Now, one of them is gaining a lot of popularity. It is called Daiginjyo Masako.
Well, if you a little about Japanese Sake, you will ask why the term “Daiginjyo” is used for a beer!
The answer is pretty simple:
Mr. Watanabe is free (“on holiday”) a few weeks every winter and takes the opportunity to give a hand to a local Sake Brewery.
-“Bandai Brewery in Shuzenji?” I innocently asked.
-“That’s right.” replied the brewer with a hint of a smile.
-“How many kinds of yeasts do you use for brewing beer?
-“A dozen. But Mr Denbei Kawamura introduced me to a sake yeast, and we thought we should give it try. Do you know him?
-“Denbei San? He happens to be a friend of mine (The grin grew wider), and I suppose you are using Shizuoka New HD-1 yeast?”
The Manager and the brewer almost burst in laughter. They had taken the risk to show the heart of their business to a stranger (usually you may not without some kind of introduction or connection), and just found out they almost had a colleague in front of them (alright, this is a very conceited comment!)!

After that I actually had to put an end to the interview as my companion and I got thirsty and hungry. I had made myself enough of a nuisance and we repaired to their restaurant.

It is actually a nice place to wine and dine with your special one, family or big group of friends.
The mainly BBQ food is reasonably priced, plentiful and a good quality, most of it coming from local farms (plenty of salad and vegetabkles, too, with seafood from Izu Peninsula).

Now, the beer! You must ask for the tasting set of four! (I actually oredered two sets for myself!). Only then can you proceed to some serious drinking. Do not worry there is everything to please everybody, from their own local sake to wine and soft drinks!

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Mr. Inamura who drove us later back home (for my lady companion) and to the station (for me!).

Kuraya Narusawa: a must stop on the way to deep Izu Peninsula!

410-2113 Izu No Kuni shi, Naka, 272-1 (get off at Izu Nagaoka Station. Few minutes away by taxi)
Tel.: 055-949-1208
Opening hours: 11:00~15:00 (Monday to Thursday), 11:00~22:00 (Friday to Saturday and National Holidays)
Live concert every Friday evening.
Brewery and Tea Factory visits possible by appointment.
Credit Cards OK

Cana: Classic Cake-Chiffon Cake

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Chiffon Cake, for all its grand French name, is actually a purely American invention!
It was created by a gentleman called Harry Baker, an Insurance salesman in California of all trades.
Check Wikipedia for more savoury information!

I just wonder what friends like Banu, Taste memory, Rowena and others would have to say about that! Alright, this is not an invitation for a forum! LOL.

Cana is relatively a newcomer. They opened their first shop some two years ago In Yaizu City before opening their tiny “branch” in Shizuoka City. A good idea as their cakes are remarkable.

“Matcha” Tea Chiffon Cake

Royal Milk Tea Chiffon Cake

They exclusively make Chiffon Cakes!
You can buy them whole inside a beautiful original round box or buy them by the slice. One whole cake makes for 12 slices.
They come in 8 different flavours.
Extremely light, they make for the perfect cake to enjoy with tea or coffee at any time of the day (or night!)
One important detail is that they are not afraid of stating exactly what ingredients are used, including organic sugar!
Although they do use eggs, they do make for great cakes for vegetarians and bodyline-conscious people alike!

420-0839 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Takajyo, 3-11-26
Tel. 054-255-0037
Opening hours: 10:00~19:30
Closed on Mondays

425-0027 Yaizu City, Sakae Cho, 1-8-1
Tel.: 054-620-0037
Opening hours: 10:00~19:00
Closed on Mondays

Bryan Baird’s Newsletter

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Baird Beer & Taproom Events Bulletin 2008 #20

Dear Taproom Friend & Baird Beer Enthusiast:

We brewed our 1000th batch of Baird Beer this year on April 30. Thinking this an important landmark for us, we decided in advance to commemorate the occasion by formulating and brewing a uniquely characterful beer. We also found ourselves reflecting on our journey within the Japan craft brewing industry to batch # 1000. When we started the prevailing wisdom was that it made no economic or business sense to brew on a miniscule scale (our first brewing system was of 30-liter batch size). It generally was thought, too, that an exclusive focus on the brewing of beers with distinct character and strong personality was a mistake. Our dispense of beer at The Taproom at appropriate temperatures (generally 8 – 12 C), rather than at icy-cold industrial levels was often snickered at and provoked numerous comment about our “luke-warm” beer. I could go on.

Our sole mission was and is the delivery to discerning drinkers of a broad variety of beers that shimmer with character and shine with distinction. Fortunately for us, there is in Japan an abundance of sensistive, open-minded and discerning drinkers. It has been sheer joy to brew beer for such a fine group. To those who didn’t get it, and perhaps sitll don’t, we say, good naturedly: Zamamiro! (loosely translated as, “Hey, I told you so!”).

*Batch # 1000 Ale (Zamamiro! Ale) (ABV 7.8%):

The concept here is a strong, golden ale that enjoys a clean, crisp and easy smoothness while still packing a powerful flavor and alcohol punch. The brewing inspiration is very Belgian — we use only base malts and unmalted wheat, we jack up the gravity (to 1.074) with lots of sugar (sudakito), keep the hop BUs at a reasonable level (35), and accentuate aroma by dry-hopping with earthy, herbal hop varieties (Santiam and Glacier). The only thing Belgian we don’t do is ferment with a phenolic-producing Belgian yeast strain (we use our house ale yeast instead). The result, we think, is a beer that combines supreme drinkability with quiet audacity.

Batch # 1000 Ale is now being served on draught at both of our Taprooms as well as at other fine Baird Beer retailing pubs and restaurants throughout Japan. 633 ml bottles also are available for purchase at Baird Beer retailing liquor stores in Japan and via our online estore.

Please note: The Nakameguro Taproom will be closed for business Tuesday, September 16 due to a special event. It will re-open for normal business hours on Wednesday, September 17.


Bryan Baird
Baird Brewing Company
Numazu, Japan

Today’s Lunch/Bento (29)

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Some friends of have wondered what the Missus’ sandwich bento would look like. For once I relent and will show what she concocted for me today!

The sandwiches part definitely looked American (British?). Secured inside their kitchen paper back, the toasted bread contained raw ham and lettuce with a little mustard.

Two salads: the first one composed of lightly boiled renkon/lotus roots, lightly boiled goya, tobikko/flying fish roe and mayonnaise-based dressing should tempt Bentoist again!

The second salad consisted of two halves of hard-boiled egg, luccola, cress, boiled broccoli, cherry tomatoes and plums. I added dressing kept at work.

This time the Missus did not forget the dessert!

Gastronomic Destinations : Hokkaido (4)

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In spite of all those oysters in Sapporo devoured in Sapporo, our next destination on the following day was Otaru City and its fish market. The latter is located just left of the JR Station exit. Small in scale, itis still a must-see in that citiy as it will offer sights of seafood consumed all over Japan!


Go down the steep narrow alley between the various booths.

Bear in mind that Hokkaido is also famed for its summer vegetables, especially tomatoes, and wild mushrooms!

Fresh and dried fish are ready for consumption or will be sent all over Japan as every stand benefits from a home-delivery system!

Even the numerous Russian tourists buy those crabs!

Salmon, the King of fish!

An Otaru delicacy: “Sankaku/Sand Borer Fish”. A beauty, raw, dried or cooked!

We arrived pretty early in the morning and for once, to get a break from all that fish, looked around for some meat.
Although Hokkaido is celebrated for its beef and mutton, we decided to try chicken instead:


New Naruto is a minuscule place seating less than 20 people.
It is constantly crowded. Either you come early or wait, knowing they might run out of meat, in which case they momentarily close the place!

The prices are simply ridiculous low by any standards. The portions are Gargantuan (thanks to the Russian tourists?) like the above half chicken,

or fried pieces of chicken. We had ordered two of each for the four of us with a couple of beers. We could not finish them all and gave the leftovers to some happy youngsters next door who were waiting for their orders!

New Naruto
Otaru City, Hanaen 1 Chome, 10-10
Tel.: 0134-328003

There is one more in town just in case at
Otaru City, Ironai 1 chome, 1
Tel.: 0134-241233


That particular night, which was our last one in Hokkaido, we decided to have a last try at the local fish.
We found a very reasonable, if a bit modest, sushi restaurant we can safely recommend to all:
Otaru Masasushi

Not only their fish is of good and reasonable, but they also have the merit to serve a couple of local sake.
I found Onikoroshi (Kill the Devil) by Tanaka Brewery (Otaru City) quite amenable with the sushi offering.

If you are not sure what to order, just ask for the Special Set/”Moriawase”.
It comes first with ika somen/thin strips of raw cuttle fish you eat with a sauce you prepare yourself with soy sauce, one raw egg yolk and raw urchin. Just challenge it!

The second dish consists of a plate of sushi (the uni gunkan is not featured as I was no patient enough to wait for it for the pic!) and Japanese soup and pickles!

Otaru Masazushi
Otaru City, Hanaen, 1-1-1 (Sushi Toori/Sushi Street)
Tel.: 0134-220011
Fax: 0134-22-8118
Closed on Wednesdays
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

I sincerely hope you will find this small series of articles useful if you the chance to visit Hokkaido!

Today’s Lunch box/bento (28)

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Today’s bento could be called “back to the basis”!
The truth is that the Missus iapparently went on a diet (actually I’m the one on a diet) and decided to lighten my bento! I don’t really complain as long as she keeps her standards as far as taste is concerned!

I admit that the “nigiri/rice balls” were a bit of an artistic affair inside their paper box:
Three of them contained fried salmon, were topped with “tobikko/flying fish roe” and partly envelopped in a shiso leaf. The one at the top, middle, contained sweet seaweed/”konbu”.
The one on the left, bottom, was topped with Japanese cucumber pickles and the one on the right, bottom, contained “takuan/Japanese pickled daikon”.

As for the salad, it came as a mixture: boiled and sliced goya, lettuce, half a boiled egg, three small asparaguses rolled and sauteed in bacon, finely chopped greens and cherry tomatoes.
I added dressing kept at work.

No dessert, but I bought myself a few nuts to munch on!

Gastronomic Destinations: Hokkaido (3)

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sake, shochu and sushi


After that great night at Kita DanDan Auberge in Abashiri City, we drove all day to Wakkanai City at the northenest tip of Japan and took a ferry to spend two days and nights in Rishiri Island. Unfortunately, the weather did not greet us and the constant rain limited our activities. A pity as this island has a lot to offer. Consult these Pages 1, 2 for references!

So, on the fourth, day, we took the ferry back to wakkanai and boarded on a local train to Sapporo City, six hours away. Hokkaido is a big island and travelling the slow way by train will allow you to admire some great views and intriguing sites!

We had in mind the place to help us forget the msfortune of the last two days:
HIRAKU, a Japanese style Oyster and Seafood Bar! A bit of a misnomer as it is a full-fledged Izakaya! They specialize in oyster cuisines and offer no less than 32 preparations!
Looking at the menu was a bit of headache as obviously even the four of us would not have been able to taste everything!
Anyway, we did manage to sample a lot and will describe them succintly in the order we ate them!

-See picture at top: Cold steamed oysters served in Japanese fahion with grated daikon and ponzu dressing.

-“Steak-style Kaki”. The oysters are sauteed like a steak with mushrooms and veg with a steak sauce.

-“Fry-Kaki”. The oysters are dipped in batter and breadcrumbs before deep-fried. They must be served at once to be truly appreciated and they were!

-“Shyoyaki yamame”. We kept our eyes open for other morsels naturally. Yamamame is a small Japanese trout variety. You eat it all, head and tail!

-“Escargot fuu Kaki”. French snail-style oyster oysters. Need I explain? Quite tasty, actually!

-Kaki Haru maki”. Deep-fried oyster Imperial rolls. Both crunchy and juicy. A great snack!

They are also very good at preparing meat as demonstrated by this suteed duck breast!

-Kaki Chiizu”. Oysters steamed inside cheese. Frankly speaking, I don’t have a clue how they make them. I know they do use processed cheese. A great snack again!

-“Kimuchi Nabe”. Oysters cooked on a hot plate with kimchee. We are not so far from Korea after all!

-Some sushi rolls to satisfy our need for carbohydrates! LOL,

-“Kaki Tenpura”. This is the first time ever I ate oysters as tenpura! Not easy to make, I’m sure! Delicious!

-“O soba”. As the place is also renown for its buckwheat noodles, we had a serving to end the meal. A complimentary dessert was served at the end of the meal.

Staff at Hiraku are particularly attentive, friendly and fast. A plus in this kind of big izakaya.
Another plus is their drinks memu, with all the items to satisfy evey taste, including some local sake and French wines. A great place for small groups!


060-0061 Sapporo City, Chuo Ku, Dai Ichi Jyo Nishi, 5 Chome, 17-2, President Matsui Bldg. 100-1202
Tel.: 011-272-6866
Fax: (011)272-6895
Reservations telelephone: (011)241-6165
Opening hours: 17:00~23:00
Closed on Sundays & National Holidays
Cards OK
Homepage (Japanese)

Shizuoka Izakaya: Waga

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sake, shochu and sushi


Waga is your typical new wave izakaya. Opened a little more than two years ago by the very young at heart (a fan of the Beatles,Queen and Led Zeppelin among others) Shuhei Ichikawa it seems very popular as I managed to enter it only at the third try and this somewhat late at night. In any case if you plan to patronize the place before 9:00 p.m., you had better reserve in advance!

The staff in their late 20’s (30’s?) are a smiling hard-working bunch, but nonetheless extremely welcoming and attentive.
Now as any good izakaya, Waga always has at least a couple of remarkable jizake on offer, although they do change regularly.

The first I ordered was a Hakuin Masamune Junmai by Takashima Brewery in Namazu, a real beauty!
It just drank like wine! Pity I could not stay too long this time, or I might have contributed to the bottle death!

Actually you had better keep your eyes wide open! Not many izakaya offer French Pernod and Ricard, and Portuguese Porto wines!

Now the first indication of a good izakaya, and especially in Shizuoka Prefeture, is its sashimi offering. If you ask for “moriawase/plate”, you will get a good idea of the establishment.
Now, the “Katsuo Tataki/Bonito slightly cooked”, “Kanpachi/Yellowtail” and “Maguro/Tuna” were simply of the higher level that would put a few vaunted Tokyo places at shame, but at very kind prices!

As I said, my friend and I were in a bit of a hurry, but we opted for dishes representative of the establishment. The seasonal dish was “Jukusei Tsurushi Buta Saute to Kisetsu no Kinoko Ankake/Sauteed matured Pork (with tofu) and seasonal mushrooms in sweet and sour sauce”. A hearty dish which should satisfy a big appetite!

Talking of solid appetites the “Karaage/Deep-fried Chicken)” was not only succulent but absolutely enormous. You would problems closing your hand around any of them!

When it comes to sake I’m a big drinker. I asked for the other Shizuoka Sake available, Takasago karakuchi Junmai by Fuji Takasago Brewery in Fujinomiya City. Very dry indeed, but so easy and pleasant to drink!

“Tamagoyaki/Japanese Omelette” is also another preriquisite at any good izakaya, and the one concocted by Waga is also a beauty. We certainly did not need any dessert!

Blimey! There is no way we could sample all the offerings. Which means I will have to come back in a hurry!

420-0839 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Takajo Machi, 2-1-20, Kuroyanagi Bldg., 1F
Tel. & Fax: 054-271-7121
Opening hours: 17:30~23:30 (Monday to Thursday), 17:30~26:00 (Friday, Saturday and day before any National Holiday).
Closed on Sundays and National Holidays.
Set menus and parties possible.
Reservations recommended.
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)