Shizuoka Izakaya: Taisaku

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It certainly took me a long time, but I finally paid a visit to Taisaku, the third oldest Izakaya in Shizuoka City! It has entered it sixty-ninth year of existence and is still going solid thanks to a strong sense of tradition nurtured by the family down to the present 3rd and 4th generations.
It has alway enjoyed a great reputation and certainly deserves it!
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Taisaku prides itself in serving, whenever possible, products from the local seas and lands. The sashimi are true delicacies, especially raw sakura shrimp (large pic above), not easy to serve so fresh unless you have a direct contact in Yui City, or katsuo/bonito thanks to Yaizu City fishermen. The aji/horsemackerel was a beauty, too. I had to limit myself to those three raw servings this time and will have to come regularly to sample the whole menu changing every day (impossible!). I had time and stomach space left to sample their “kisu to anago no satsumaage”, a fish paste made from two fish caught in Suruga Bay and cooked to perfection.

Now, if you know me well, there need be another reason for my introducing an Izakaya: the local sake!
I gave up on posting the labels for the simple reason that the list is too long! Here you are:
Garyubai Dai Ginjo (Sanwa Brewery, Shimizu Ku)
Isojiman Junmai Ginjo + Hionjozo (Yaizu City)
Hatsukame (Shida Gun)
Kaiun (Doi Brewery, Kakegawa City)
Matsu Ichi, including Taruzake/sake from the cask and “kan”/warm (Shizuoka City)
Shosetsu Junmai (Yui City)
Kokkou (Fukuroi City)
Karakkaze (Hana no Mai Brewery, Hamamatsu City)
8 Breweries for 11 types of sake, all from Shizuoka Prefecture!

As Taisaku is located in Central Shizuoka just behind Shin Shizuoka Center, expect it to be full with patrons of all ages, genders and status!
If you wish to talk about local history, you will find the master of the house quite amenable indeed. Not only did he took out old books for me, but he also gave me the name of another Brewery that existed before WWII!

Taisaku
420-0858 Shizuoka City, Aoi-Ku, Tenmacho, 1-10 (entry on 1F, restaurant on 2F)
Tel.: 054-2531639
Business hours: 17:30~?
Closed on Sundays
Parties up to 20 possible on 3F

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Shizuoka Oden 2: Yasaitei

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I suppose I’m running the risk of starting a long debate in our good City/Prefecture of Shizuoka, but there is Shizuoka Oden and Shizuoka Oden!
By this I mean that one can eat different kinds of Oden, some cheap and expensive, some great and ugly, and whatever else has comes to appear on our tables after some TV shows extolled the qualities of our regional delicacy (which is not).
Shizuoka people “seem” to appreciate Oden cooked in dark soup over long periods of time, but if they happened to witness how those dark broths were concocted or when and where the Oden themselves are prepared and stored, they might entertain second thoughts.
This said, I’m not here to criticize but to introduce the good food, especially slow food, and places that serve them!
Yasaitei, which I have introduced for another reason now serve very healthy and tasty Oden. They are comparatively more expensive than in most “odenya”, but this is an izakaya where you will also appreciate the soup (“tsuyu”) that comes with it!

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The broth is Kansai-style in that it is light and gives the right colour to the Oden.
It will be served with “yuzu koshio”, a mixture of black pepper and lime extract instead of the ubiquitous lump of strong Japanese mustard (“karashi”), and with finely chopped leeks that will add a welcome touch to the soup that you will drink upon eating the Oden.
Last but not least, the Oden at Yasaitei are of prime quality, freshness and extremely tasty in an elegant way!
They change accordingly to the season, but have Ms. Yoshino explain all of them before you choose them. I garantee you will learn a lot!

Yasaitei
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwa-Cho, 1-6-2 Green Heights Wamon 1-C
Tel.: 054-2543277
Reservations highly recommended

Soba/Buckwheat Restaurant: Yoshino

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I love soba, and many Japanese and expats do too!
It is not only great for health (vegetarians, listen carefully), it is tasty and satisfying!
Unfortunately there is soba and soba. Meaning: a lot of places do have to be avoided…
What makes Yoshino special is that they are very exactting about their quality and serve only soba on the day. If they run out, they simply close the place!
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For the connoisseurs hey serve both ni-hachi (80%) and ju-wari (100% which tend to run out quickly!)
Although Mr. Hiromichi Yoshino opened his restaurant only in 1999 after serving his time in another famous soba restaurant, Kuromugi in Shizuoka, the place has become so popular you do have to choose your time of the day to enjoy the food. Actually, you ought to take your time as this is a real “slow-food” soba restaurant. As it sits only 22 plus a few at the counter, you will understand it could become a scramble sometimes.
The more for its side dishes (“tsumami”):
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The “tamagoyaki” (fine, some vegetarians might not agree!) and the:
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“yakimiso” (soba/buckwheat powder mixed with miso and cooked under the grill), a must in any good soba restaurant.
But people who really know me would not be convinced if I fail to mention that also serve Shizuoka sake!
They serve no less than 8 kinds!:
Fujinishiki/Arabashiri (Shibakawa Cho)
Hatsukame/junmai + Kame dai ginjo 3 year-old koshu (Okabe cho)
Isojiman/ dai ginjo + junmai ginjo (Yaizu City)
Kikuyoi/daiginjo (Fujieda City)
Onnanakase/Oomuraya-Wakatake daiginjo (Shimada City)
Kokkou/junmai ginjo (Fukuroi City)
Now, a little secret for the sake lovers, these high-quality sake certainly come cheaper than anywhere else!

Apart of the whole gamut of cold and hot soba, they serve exquisite tempura, satsumaage, oniage, yakimiso,and so on.

Last but not least it becomes a no-moking place at lunch!

Yoshino
420-0839 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Takajo Machi, 1-7-10 (just behind Shin Shizuoka Center)
Tel.: 054-2553277
Business hours: 11:00~22:00 (or until run out soba)
“Kaiseki course” on reservations

Sashimi Set

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Here is a sashimi set I ordered at Oboro No Tsuki in Shizuoka City on June 28th.
Not only the fish is first class but the presentation was definitely high grade!

At the back, “katsuo”/bonito. Front left, “aji”/saurel or horsemackerel. Front right, “aka ika”/red cuttlefish

Simple Recipes: Ratatouille

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Ratatouille as accompaniment to Stuffed Tomato and Grilled Goat Cheese

In Summer Ratatouille will please both omnivores and vegetarians as it can be served on its own as it is or as an accompaniment to other foods (see pic above).
It can be made in almost any country in the world, but particularly here in Shizuoka Prefecture due to the abundance of great vegetables!

Ingredients (for 4 to 6 people):
Onions: 3 large
Aubergines (egg-plants): 4
Courgettes (zucchini): 4
Tomatoes: 500g
Peppers (pimento): 2 to 4 (mix colours)
Garlic: 2 cloves
Olive oil: 1 cup (extra virgin oil PLEASE!)
Bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, laurel)
Salt & pepper to taste
Soft spices to taste (clove, nutmeg, sage, etc.)

Recipe:

Peel and slice the onions, aubergines and courgettes. Cut the tomatoes in pieces. Cit in strips the peppers after ridding them of their seeds.
Heat the olive oil in a deep saucepan. Throw in the onions first and one minute later all the vegetables the garlic cloves , the bouquet garni, salt, peppers and spices.
Cover and let simmer on small fire for one hour and thirty minutes, mixing now and then to prevent the stew to stick on the bottom of the saucepan.
If too much water is rtill left in the stew, half cover halfway. Take garlic and bouquwr garni before serving.
NOTES: This the basic recipe. I usually add some tomato puree. The size of the cut vegetables depend on their purpose. The smaller they are cut, the shorter the cooking time. Can be served hot as accompaniment (side dish) or as main course for vegetarians (add chick peas!) or refrigerated as snacks for beer in summer.

Tanuki No Ana

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Tanuki No Ana (“The Racoon’s Lair”) is a must if you wish to tell later that you have tasted Shizuoka Prefecture’s best sake wherever you might want to boast about it!
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Mr. Makoto Naruoka and his wife Chieko moved to the present address in 1997, but have been serving Shizuoka Sake since 1980!
Actually, if you check the labels posted on their window, you will find out that some breweries have gone out of existence!
A regular customer there, I hallenged the following brews on that day:
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Denichiro by Kokkou Brewery (Fukuroi City), Hakuin Masamune by Takashima Brewery (Numazu City) and Fuji-Takasago Brewery.
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Served with some hearty food perfect with sake, I had a hard time to limit myself once again.
I will spare you from viewing all thos labels again but just know that Tanuki No Hana has no less than 20 breweries fro the following 18 breweries:
Oomuraya (wakatake-Shimada City), Kokkou (Fukuroi City), Isojiman (Yaizu City), Syosetsu, Haginishiki, Yoshiya-Chummasa, Sanwa-Garyubai, Kumpai (Shizuoka City), Kikuyoi, Shidaizumi, Sugii-Suginishiki (Fujieda City), Fuji-Takasago (Fujinomiya City), Takashima-Hakuin Masamune (Numazu City), Fujinishiki (Fuji Gun), Moriomoto (Kikugawa City), Hatsukame (Okabe Cho), Doi-Kaiun (Kakegawa City).
Sake-lover, what are you waiting for?

Tanuki No Ana
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Ryogae-Cho, 2-2-5
Tel.: 054-2556704
Business hours: 17:00~23:00
Closed on Sundays
Credit cards OK

Izakaya: Take Chan no Daidokoro

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Take Chan No Daikoro might have opened in Shizuoka City only two years ago, but you will need to reserve your seats if you are than two of you!
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Why? (silly question, if there was any!)
Because the food is great and very reasonable, they have plenty of local sake, their fish in particular is local whenever possible and service is attentive and easy-going.
I visited the place more on a hunch than anything else last Friday and was glad to notice the following local sake:
Isojiman Hojozo (Yaizu City), Kaiun Honjozo (Kakegawa City), Shosetsu honjozo & Junmai (Shimizu Ku), Shidaizumi Ginjo (Fujieda City), Chumasa Honjozo (Shizuoka City) and Hana No mai Honjozo & Junmai(Hamamatsu City) !
Of course they have shochu, Beer, Awamori and so on!
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I first ordered “kinme”, a fish caught off Izu Peninsula. A beautiful soft sashimi!
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I could not help notice the beef sashimi on the menu for a mere 720 yen, and my carnivorous instincts took over. And I did well to listen to them. So sweet and tender!
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As I needed some more food with the sake I was drinking so fast, I asked the “oyakata/chef” to recommend me a grilled fish. He advised to try “kuromutsu”.
It came cooked to perfection. The flesh came off so easily off the bones and was so soft and juicy!
I had the good fortune to come early as by the moment I was going to take my leave, it was absolutely packed and had all the six staff running!. I also discovered a few pairs of ladies obviously enjoying themselves.
I will have to come again to check the rest of the menu, but the sashimi sets seemed very reasonably priced and the kushiyaki yummy. Parties are possible but you had better reserve a good week in advance!

Take Chan No Daidokoro
420-0024 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Naka Cho, 22, Saitouya Bldg
Tel. & fax: 054-2215065
Business hours: 11:30~13:30 (Tuesdays ~Saturdays), 17:00~23:00
Closed on Sundays.

Credit Cards OK