Service: Friendly and unassuming
Facilities: old-fashioned but very clean with cute washroom
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
Business hours: 17:00~24:00
Closed on Thursdays
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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