Tag Archives: 居酒屋

French Wine Bistro: Himawari-Tei in Shizuoka City!

Service: Easy-going and attentive. Very friendly if somewhat shy
Equipment & Facilities: Very clean overall. Superb Washroom
Prices: Appropriate
Strong points: Very good list of reasonably-priced wines by the glass or bottle. Typical French Bistro gastronomy. Gastro bar concept

After spending so many years learning his trade in France, particularly in the Lyon Region and Tokyo, Michihito Osuga/大須賀道人さん finally came back to his hometown to open Himawari-Tei (Sunflower Abode) in the increasingly busy Shichiken-Cho District, near Aoba Street in Aoi-Ku, Shizuoka City!

Many reasonably-priced wines mainly from France, Spain and California with some really interesting surprises among them can be enjoyed at Himawari-Tei!

The fact that the area is the home of many fashion shops in day time makes it a particularly welcome addition because of its concept as a wine bistro.

You can enjoy yourself with a glass of wine and one of the dishes on the day’s menu on your own or in good company without any ostentation. Mind you, would do well to reserve a seat either at the counter or at a table as it gets full very quickly!

It is not a big place and if you choose to come as a small party, make sure that a table is reserved for you!

And the beauty of it is that it is entirely non-smoking!

Although there is a regular menu, first check the offerings of the day on the blackboard where you will discover some celebrated French food!

French salami as service of the day!

Now, this wine was an incredible surprise: Cote Chalonnaise (Bourgogne) made in Saint-Desert, the very village where I spent all my summers when I was kid! Unbelievable! I finished the bottle!

Wherever you go to France you always order the Terrine or Pate de Campagne to have a good idea of the chef’s skills!

Now, Michihiko’s terrine de Campagne is truly a faithful rendition of the terroir of my region (Bourgogne and Lyon) with all the flavors and delicious pungency. Served with greens and Dijon Mustard, no need for bread!

Yes, they make great Merlot wines in California! Smoking Loon, what a great name!

Since it was my first visit I tended to eat more than drink (expect another article soon!)!
Very delicate white liver paste!

And to finish my first meal, a hearty (but not heavy or too copious!) cassoulet (bean stew) with duck confit!

I might run into the danger of becoming a regular from next winter with such comfort foods from home!

To be followed…

HIMAWARI-TEI
420-0035 Shizuoka City, Aoi ku, Shichiken-Cho, 10-9, Shinwa Bldg., 1F
Tel.: 054-255-5708
Business hours: 17:00~indeterminate
Closed on Mondays
Credit cards will be OK by end of September
BLOG/HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

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

Japanese Traditional Izakaya: Shibata in Shizuoka City (part 1)

Service: Very friendly and attentive. Great conversations in store!
Equipment and facilities: Traditional but very clean.
Prices: Appropriate.
Strong points: Seasonal hunting food. Great fish, both raw and cooked. Mainly local food. True traditional izakaya.

Shibata, in spite of a long history spanning over more than 40 years, is what we call in Japan a “kakureya/隠れ屋/a “secret place”!
Chef Susumu Shibata/柴田賛さん used to serve mainly sushi but he recently took the sushi mention off and is having a great time serving anything from globefish/fugu/河豚 sashimi to wild boar and venison brought by friend hunters!
I had the occasion to visit again last week as he is helping me and a German TV crew get some really unusual foods for a special reportage (next article!).

His izakaya is located away from the crowds in downtown Shizuoka City and the sign does help you find it in the middle of the night.

You wouldn’t know his place is so famous among true gastronomes judging from the modest entrance!

The place might be old, but it’s clean and Chef Shibata is always smiling and ready for some good talk!

The glass display formerly used for sushi will show an array of varied seasonal and traditional foods.

Plenty of fish in wait!

Deep-fried ko-dai/小鯛/small seabream as an appetizer with the first drink!

That time it was more about talking about and preparing the next event than delving into a long meal but we took the opportunity to enjoy some great fugu/河豚/globefish sashimi!

My friend asked for the same but served on ice!

And we had the same fish fried as tempura!
Actually, people here very often prefer to eat it this way!

Served with Chef Shibata’s special seasoning!

Most of the fish is local and served the traditional way as opposed to minuscule servings found up in Tokyo!

The same fish, Maaji/真鯵/True Horse mackerel from Kurasawa near Yui, Shimizu Ku, Shizuoka City!

Alright, this is only the first episode!
Look forward to the next one!

SHIBATA/しばた
421-2223 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Kmaiashiarai, 2-7-28
Tel.: 0909221702, 0542-469-412
Opening hours: 17:00~23:00
Closed on Thursdays

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

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

Japanese Izakaya: Kohaku in Shizuoka City!

Extravagant sashimi plate at Kohaku!

Service: Very friendly and welcoming. Great explanations.
Facilities & Equipment: Very clean and great washroom
Prices: Appropriate
Strong points: Traditional and modern izakaya gastronomy. Very inventive cuisine with introduction of some Western concepts. Great seafood. Great sake list. Wine and other alcohols available. Intensive use of local products combined with ingredients from other prefectures!

It is always an intense pleasure to discover a new izakaya even in a town where you have lived for 36 years!
My good friend, Yasushi Imaizumi, owner of IMAIZUMI Co Ltd. had been raving about Kohaku so we decided to visit the place last Friday!

Located in Shichiken-Cho Street which has recently become a “back street” with the disappearance of all the cinemas/movie theaters relocated to the 9th floor of Cenova Department Store it moved to its new address under a new name last November significantly contributing to the revival of an interesting street of Shizuoka City!

A daily hand-brushed menu posted outside is always a good sign!

Takashi Kawauguchi/川口貴士さん works there everyday at lunch and dinner with a true passion for his craft. The family is helping especially his mother, a great source of local lore, and occasionally by his sister and father. The latter surprised me when he mentioned a now defunct izakaya called “Wa no Ji” I used to patronize in the late 1970’s! I wonder if he knows some of my “secrets”!

A small but traditional entrance.
Sorry for the fuzzy picture but it was a dark rainy night!
As I will report again for lunch (they apparently serve an extravagant curry with all kinds of different toppings!) I promise to come up with a better picture!

Great calligraphy again!

The place was empty at 7:00 when we entered but we soon found out it had almost been completely reserved so be warned!
Reserve a seat the counter where you will be able to share some genial talk with the chef and the regular customers!

If you don’t read Japanese, do not worry. You will probably end up with everybody explaining everything!
Now, if you do read Japanese take your time in choosing the dishes because there is enough to tempt you coming back every week!

A traditional Japanese setting!

You will discover a great attention to details with an individual wooden tray for your plates and cups!

Plenty of drinks to choose from, especially local sake and shochu from everywhere else!
But it might be a good idea to check with the Chef first!

These top-class local Shizuoka sake were not on the menu!

Neither were these sake actually concocted by a winery in Yamanashi Prefecture!

You are in Shizuoka Prefecture looking at the richest sea in Japan, so you must order a plate of sashimi which is always bound to include a great majority of local products, some of which you will never find elsewhere unless you have very deep pockets!

The specialty of Shizuoka, fresh sakura ebi/cherry shrimps, surrounded by maguro akami/lean tuna, aji/horse mackerel and saba/mackerel!

Another rare specialty from Shizuoka, raw shirasu/hard mouth sardine whiting flanked by another famous fish of our Prefecture, katsuo, bonoto sashimi!
I know a lot of people who come all the way from Tokyo just to sample those three seafoods!

But like any izakaya worth its salt, the cooked cuisine is the main attraction at Kohaku!
Home-made liver paste! As a Frenchman, I can assure you it was a real beauty!

Now, pate and terrine spell the difference between bistros back home in France, but here in Japan home-made satsumaage/deep-fried fish and vegetable paste will tell you at once which the good izakayas are!

I will have to forget other izakayas for a while as there are just too many beauties to sample at Kohaku:
Kakuni/角煮! Dongpo pork (pork belly)!

Chef Kawaguchi takes a long time in cooking his kakuni, but he will coat it with cornstarch before frying it lightly for a last touch! You simply must sample this Chinese/Japanese true delicacy!

What with all the great sake we were drinking, there was a limit to what you could eat in a single evening. Therefore we decided to try another dish for which Kohaku is celebrated: Ox tail stew!

Now, this is real Western gastronomy served with fresh fried potato wedges!
With all that great sauce available Yasushi asked the Chef to boil some pasta on the quick, which was done on the spot. Before savoring the pasta we had poured on our plate with plenty of sauce, Takashi’s sister came to us to grate some fresh parmesan on it without being asked!
Now, I call that great attention!

To be continued, of course, what with the lunch curry!

KOHAKU/旬彩こはく

420-0085 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Shichiken-Cho, 18-1, PIVOT Shizuoka, 1F
Tel.: 054-221-0589
Opening hours: 11:30~14:30, 17:00~23:00

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:

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

Japanese Gastronomy: Katsuo Tataki at Waga!

Service: Very friendly and easy-going! Slow food!
Facilities: Very clean overall. Large and clean washroom.
Prices: Reasonable
Strong points: Great list of sake and shochu. Typical izakaya gastronomy with a personal touch!

Shizuoka Prefecture, thanks to its long shores along the Suruga Bay, the richest Bay in Japan, and around the Izu Peninsula is replete with fish and seafood all year round. Comparatively little fish is imported from other shores and people here keep to seasonal fish.
Katsuo/鰹/Bonito, also called skipjack tuna, is a very popular fish in Japan and probably the only sustainable tuna species these days. It is also extensively eaten in the Maldives, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, France and Spain.
At the beginning of the Fall large schools swim across the Suruga Bay and the quality of the fish in Shizuoka supermarkets, sushi restaurants and Izakaya is simply extraordinary!

Naturally, it is delicious consumed raw as sashimi or cooked as “nimono”, “teriyaki” or in curries, but my preferred cuisine is tataki!
Although the method is simple enough, timing is crucial!

Freshness is also crucial.
Instead of preparing it beforehand, the chef at Waga, upon receiving the order, will cut out a large chunk from a fresh skipjack filet and grill it directly over the flame just long enough to sear the fish a few mm deep. He will then plunge it into icy water to stop the cooking and wipe it dry. Simple? Yes, but try it, and you will find out a lot of little details have to be taken into account!
The chef will then cut the katsuo in large slices and serve them artfully arranged on a plate with a light cold sauce/dressing.

For a perfectly balanced and beautiful dish he will prop the fish atop plenty of lettuce and decorate it with finely cut white leek and a quartered large plum tomato, all grown in Shizuoka Prefecture!
Of course, the dressing is a secret but it is based on soy sauce, ponzu and lime juice with soft spices!

WAGA
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, takajyo, 2-1-20, Kuroyanagi Bldg. 1F
Tel.: 054-271-7121
Business hours: 17:30~23:30, 17:30~26:00 (on Fridays, Saturdays and National Holidays)
Closed on Mondays
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

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

Shizuoka Izakaya: Waga!

Daikon Katsu!

Service: Very friendly and easy-going! Slow food!
Facilities: Very clean overall. Large and clean washroom.
Prices: reasonable
Strong points: Great list of sake and shochu. Typical izakaya gastronomy with a personal touch!

I’ve always been a great fan of Waga since it was open. Pity I cannot visit it often as it is just too near my workplace! LOL

The design is definitely modern and comfortable allowing you to choose between seats at tables, tatami (with dug space for your legs!) or at the counter.
Food here is definitely of the slow and attentive variety and generous!
On top of that the difference is made with some interesting specialties!

The o-toshi/snack coming with the first drink are worth a second look: salmon deep-fried in cornstarch served with fine ratatouille!

Small deep-fried renkon/lotus root sandwiches and mushrooms in sweet and sour sauce!

Like in any Shizuoka izakaya worth its salt the sashimi is first-class: madai/true seabream!

A Waga specialty: deep-fried nagaimo sticks!
The nagaimo being fried, it is not sticky at all, but tender and crispy! A discovery!

Another Waga specialty (you might do well to order it in advance!): Daikon katsu!

The daikon is first slowly simmered in dashi souip stock, then drained and cooled down before being covered with breadcrumbs/panko like for tonkatsu/pork cutlets, deep-fried and served cut seasoned with a personal dressing!

Another Waga’s classic: kabocha croquettes baked with tomato and cheese sauce!

Waga’s tamagoyaki/Japanese omelette is special! (at the back are three cups of different sake for comparison!)

For a better view!

The original arrangement will make you think you are eating two different kinds!
Incidentally I always have it for dessert!

Served with an original sweet seaweed sauce!

WAGA
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, takajyo, 2-1-20, Kuroyanagi Bldg. 1F
Tel.: 054-271-7121
Business hours: 17:30~23:30, 17:30~26:00 (on Fridays, Saturdays and National Holidays)
Closed on Mondays
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

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

Japanese Izakaya: Odakkui

The first snack comes with a message!

Service: Very friendly
Facilities: Old but clean. Interesting and clean washroom!
Prices: appropriate
Strong points: Local traditional cuisine. Great sake and shochu!

Izakayas are the pillar of Japanese gastronomy as they are the best indication of any local food enjoyed in any particular region.
Naturally there are izakayas and izakayas!
To discover a worthy establishment you need only follow a few rules of the thumb:
A good izakaya serves:
-Local food made with local ingredients whenever possible.
-Variety in cooked and raw dishes
-At least one or two superlative local sake (or local drinks)
-A good choice of drinks to satisfy all tastes and priorities.
The (necessary) extras are:
-Conviviality
-Keen interest in customers’ requests
-Traditional atmosphere

Oddakui, although a celebrated (reserve your seat beforehand!) institution in Shizuoka City it is not easy to find as it is located on the second floor of an unremarkable building. Look for the sign below, and…

and above your head!

The MOTH: Naofumi Ohshiro/大代直史!

Naofumi is not only a great izakaya oyakata, he is also a remarkable business as he opened Yasaitei/やさい亭 with the help of Chef Aki Suzuki/鈴木朋 to offer a complementary establishment to his customers with an accent on vegetables while Odakkui/おだっ喰い serves typical izakaya food from sashimi to oden and croquettes (the last two a must!)

Naofumi has his customers’ bien-être at heart: a message greets each of them wrapped around the chopsticks!
One problem with such establishments is trying to take pictures without a flash!
But don’t worry, do refer to Odakkui’s Homepage for a great rendition of their food and atmosphere!

The little details that make a place so welcoming!

A great sake from Shizuoka: Shisizumi Brewery in Fujieda City!
The ladies must try the umeshu made with brown sugar!

This salad is called “Shizuoka Umare Sarada/静岡生まれサラダ/Shizuoka Birthplace Salad!
it is made with mitsuba/三つ葉/Japanese honeywort and shirasu/シラス/hard mouth sardine whitebait!
Shizuoka Prefecture is known all over Japan for its shirasu!

The whitefish has been steamed and cooled down beforehand.
With avocado in between, it certainly makes for a complete and healthy dish!

Although the menu is worth exploring, you ought to sample their suigyoza/dumplings in soup!
Even the Chinese would come for that!

They (or the Vietnamese!) would also come for the Raw Spring Rolls!

Yummy and so healthy again!

The customers are always offered a dessert before leaving: Brûlé Pudding and Strawberry Sorbet! Another detail which spells the difference!
Sorry for the fuzzy picture!

This is only a short start as I must sample their croquettes, oden and sashimi! LOL

ODAKKUI/おだっ喰い
420-0034 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwa Cho, 1-8-1, Aoba Yokocho, 2F
Tel.]Fax: 054-253-6900
Business hours: 17:00~24:00
Closed on Mondays
HOMEPAGE

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

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

Shizuoka Agricultural Products: Hatada Garden Leaf Ginger at Yasaitei!

Ms. Aki Suzuki/鈴木朋, chef at Yasaitei.

I said in my previous article that there are many Shizuoka products worthwhile introducing not only to the general public but also to restaurants who work hard promoting food originating from our Prefecture.
Another such place is Yasaitei in Shizuoka City!

Like in the other article, after having interviewed Toshikatsu Hatada/畑田敏克 at Hatada Garden/畑田農園 in Kuno/久能 in Shizuoka City, I called Ms. Suzuki to tell her I was bringing fresh leaf ginger and I wished her to create some dishes with it to which se immediately genially agreed! Yasatei thus the second restaurant I visited on that day!

I had my usual (I’m a regular there, too…) glass of Doman Shochu (brewed by Hamamatsu-Tenjingura Brewery in Hamamatsu City) with a snack consisting of kogomi/こごみ/ostrich fern in sesame dressing.

Aki keeps things simple with a respect for the natural taste of ingredients.
The first serving was the leaf ginger cut and served with red miso paste. A great snack for the shochu!

Keeping in mind I wanted something light to accompany the drink, she lightly fried in olive oil and a minimum of salt and pepper thin strips of leaf ginger, bacon and strips of yellow sweet pimentoes.

Great balance between the salty taste of bacon, the sweetness of pimentoes and spiciness of the ginger!

She was back in true vegetarian mode for the last dish:

A salad of very lightly fried strips of leaf ginger and cucumber topped with thin strips of raw radishes for an interesting and slightly piquant salad!

Did I say I was enjoying my work at Agrigraph? LOL

YASAITEI/野菜亭
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
Seating: 6 at counter + 14 at tables
Set Courses: 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 yen
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

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

Shizuoka Agricultural Products: Hatada Garden Leaf Ginger at Mando!

Mr. Takeshi Hirai/平井武, Manager of Mando Restaurant

There are many Shizuoka products worthwhile introducing not only to the general public but also to restaurants who work hard promoting food originating from our Prefecture.
One such place is Mando in Shizuoka City!

Mando, Neo-Japanesque Bar, is the third restaurant of the BECK Co., Ltd with Cafe & Bar Cherry Beans and World Beer Restaurant GROW STOCK.
Mando is particularly interesting to me as they serve food in tapas style and are always looking for new products.
After having interviewed Toshikatsu Hatada/畑田敏克 at Hatada Garden/畑田農園 in Kuno/久能 in Shizuoka City, I called Mr. Hirai to tell him I was bringing fresh leaf ginger and I wished him to create some dishes with it. He genially agreed and I was no my way to his restaurant!

Mr. Hirai usually does not work inside the kitchen, although he is a fully-qualified chef, but he wouldn’t let anyone taking care of a product he knew, but not that of a producer he was aware of.

He marinated some of the fresh leaf ginger into hot amazu/sweet vinegar for later use, although it could be eaten right away as a snack with a drink, which I did. beautiful combination, like eating a dessert on a stick!

The Japanese love their leaf ginger fresh as they are with some miso paste. Mr. Hirai served some to me with white sweet miso. They didn’t last long! They go well with any drink!

He then came up with sawara/鰆/Spanish Mackerel (it the season in Shizuoka right now), fried with Japanese sake and a little yuzu koshio/柚子胡椒/lime pepper paste and served with a stick of leaf ginger marinated in amazu. Perfect marriage for a great fish!

Leaf Ginger Pork Belly Roll Fritters!

The last dish was a delicacy that Japanese and expats alike would kill for!
Using thin slices of Shizuoka-bred pork belly, he wrapped them around leaf ginger before dipping them in batter. The whole were deep-fried and served with a beautiful salt and pepper mixture.

For a different view!

Decidedly, my work for Agrigraph is becoming sheer fun!

Mando, Neo Japanesque Bar
420-0031, Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Gofuku Cho, 2-4-6, Mori Blg, 1F
Tel/Fax: 054-221-5103
Business hours: 17:00~26:00
Parties possible on 2F
HOMEPAGE

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

Yamako: A tiny Izakaya Hidden in the Mountains of Mariko!

Hiroyuki and Mie Kondoh/近藤広幸、美枝

If you feel energetic (mind you, you can go there by car, but then no alcohol! LOL), take your bicycle and venture in the mountains of Mariko, one of the most celebrated stages on the Old Tokaido Road.

After all, it is only a 50-minute ride from Shizuoka JR Station. You can also take a bus until very near and walk for 1.5 km through real rural Japan!

There, you will find, almost at the end of the road, a tiny izakaya called !Yamako/山幸”/”Mountain Happiness”!
It was re-opened by the amiable Kondohs 10 years ago after Mie’s father passed away.

It is a microcosm of old Japan with its small wooden side entry to a minuscule park with flowering trees.

Nice place to sit waiting for your turn!

A view of the same from inside the tatami room.

The tatami room where up to 10 people can sit.

The inside is all old wood making for a great atmosphere.
The above picture was taken inside the other room where 5 can be seated at a table on chairs.

At lunch time you have a choice of three sets:
Tororo soba, 900 yen
Zaru Soba: 700 yen
Sansai Soba: 800 yen

I chose the latter.
Very tasty and healthy!

For (early) dinner you can either take the 2,000 yen set which makes for quite a lot of food or you can have a large plate of oden for 1,200 yen.
But it is possible to arrange for a more complete meal according to a pre-arranged budget through reservation on the phone.

They have plenty to drink for thirsty people including beer and local sake (Morimoto and Aoshima Breweries!), in glasses or bottles for the latter.

They also provide a large BBQ site just beside the izakaya I had the luck to use last year!

Know there is a tiny haven waiting for you at the end of a nice journey!

Yamako/山幸
Shizuoka Shi, Suruga Ku, Mariko, 6088
Tel. & Fax: 054-257-3228
Opening hours: 11:00~19:00 (Please call for a reservation if you come after 13:00!)
Closed on Tuesdays
Credit cards OK (within reasonability!)
Reservations expressly recommended!

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

Shizuoka Agricultural Products: Mrs. Jitsuko Ishihara’s Zucchini!

In Japan, like in any country worth its salt and name, you always need a little help from your friends. And when that applies to agriculture and farmers, it is simply vital!

Luckily enough, I’m blessed with this tireless lady friend, namely Mrs. Natsuko Koyanagi, the recognized leader of all those farmer housewives selling their produce at Agriroad in Shizuoka City!
When you realize that the community accounts for more than a hundred members, interviewing simply becomes a pleasure!

Last year she introduced me to this sweet ladyfarmer, Mrs. Jitsuko Ishihara who has a special fondness for zucchini, especially of the colourful round kind!
Sorry for the small pic, but it was taken last year, as the lady was busy up in the mountain harvesting tea with her husband tis morning!

But in the Shizuoka (and elsewhere in Japan) countryside you don’t need a key to open a fence. Natsuko gave her a call to inform her that that strange foreigner (-“You know, the Frenchman who loved your zucchini last year?”) wanted to have another look at those beautiful vegetables. -“Is it ok for us to visit your field/garden?”
-“No problem, you know the place! Thanks for taking hime around!”
Simple as that!

Since I have started writing these local agriculture articles for the prefectural government I intend to conduct a full interview of Mrs. Ishihara very soon!
Natsuko, having given me a ride to Yuyama, along the Abe River (a good 5 minutes ride. For once, I was happy to leave my bicycle!) we were soon trampling Mrs. Ishihara’s domain and taking pics.

Not a really easy task as you have to delve deep under those large leaves with insects buzzing in your eyes (we are in the middle of the reason!)
There was no way I could leave the place without a hoard of those little treasures…

-“Natsuko, could you please ask Mr. Ishihara if I can have some of these?”
Natsuko was soon talking over her mobile phone (at least one reason to welcome IT in farms, thus cutting distances to zero!”)
-“She says she’ll be glad to let you pick one of your choice back home!” (Sweet lady!)
-“No, I mean to buy 3 or 4 of them! Ask her if I may, and how much she wants for them!”
-“……………

-“She says you can take 3 or 4 of them at 100 yen a piece (just over 1 US$)!”
-“But that’s ridiculously cheap (they would fetch 4 times as much in a supermarket) for a zucchini I need two hands to wrap them completely, and moreover fresh and of such a quality!”

Well, I did go away with my 4 beauties for a grand total of 400 yen! I tried to explain they would be served tonight at a friend’s izakaya who would be ready to the real price, but to no avail!

I will make sure my friends at Yasaitei in Shizuoka City know where these zucchini come from and answer their guests’ queries!
Do visit this great place, an institution here in Shizuoka Prefecture!
They will prepare and serve these zucchini according to your preferences, probably as tempura, steamed or fried with superb olive oil!

Can you see them?

YASAITEI
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
Seating: 6 at counter + 20 at tables
Set Courses: 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 yen
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

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

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

Japanese Bamboo Handcraft for your Dining-Room and Home

Bamboo has been used from times immemorial. It is very sturdy and does not spoil easily, even in the most severe conditions or environments.
People tend to forget it is not a tree, but a grass. It can grow in inclement climates and withstand frost and snow, although severe droughts will kill it.
It flowers only once in its long (60 to 120 years) life before suddenly dying away.

Bamboos (there are many varieties) are also the fastest growing woody plants in the world. They are capable of growing up to 60 cm (24 in.) or more a day due to a unique rhyzome-dependent system. However, this astounding growth rate is highly dependent on local soil and climatic conditions. But the same growth rate can make it an environmental hazard in some regions where it supplants real trees.
Bamboos are of notable economic and cultural significance in Japan (and Asia) where the stems and even the leaves are extensively used in everyday life as building materials and as a highly versatile raw product, and the shoots as a food source.
Bamboo, when used for construction or utensil-making purpose must be harvested when the culms reach their greatest strength and when sugar levels in the sap are at heir lowest, as high sugar content increases the ease and rate of pest infestation.

Bamboo is extensively used as a food, medicine and construction material.
It also contributes to the manufacture of everyday utensils from chopsticks to baskets, from textiles to musical instruments, and even in water processing and transportation (bamboo bicycles!).
Now, because of its comparatively mild and wet climate, Shizuoka Prefecture has been the home of bamboo handcraft for a long time.
Its major guild, called Suruga Takesen Sujizaiku/駿河竹千筋細工 (literally, Suruga Bay Bamboo Thousand Lines Thin Works) or “Suruga Zaiku” for short, has been in existence since 1620 and quickly achieved fame thanks to the Shogunate and the Old Tokaido Route.
At first craftsmen concentrated on the manufacture of utilitarian objects from baskets to small boxes and trays actively sought by the travelers for their own use or as valuable souvenirs and tradable artifacts.
Their products achieved international first in Austria in 1873 where they were exhibited at the Wien International Exposition. Since then the craft has witnessed lows and highs, but in this present world of cheap plastic and metal utilities, bamboo has increasingly achieved a deserved status of artistic value and even that of a politically correct environment-friendly material.

At present the Guild accounts for 14 craftsmen and craftswomen of all ages specializing in some form of the handicraft. The next generation is well provided for and collectors and buyers can be assured of a continuous, if limited because of the sheer hard work and artistry, supply.
There is an almost unending line of products available depending on your needs:
Vase baskets to hold or carry pottery or glass vases, protecting and adding to the aesthetic value of their contents. There are some 80 models of them that can be laid on tables or tokonomas or hung on walls and pillars.
Many exquisite “kaze suzu/風鈴”, or “wind bells” resonating inside very fine bamboo lined balls.
More than 20 cake boxes and trays to serve or preserve Japanese cakes/wagashi.
Beautiful “handbags” lined with hand-dyed cloth.

Insect collectors, especially “suzu mushi/鈴虫/ring-bell cricket” beloved by the Japanese during the hot season, can choose among more than 20 delicately built cages where they can keep and feed their little pets.
Lamp shades (more than 25 of them) can not only make for very utilitarian devices, but also for lovable souvenirs to bring back home as the oriental note in your western abodes.
But my favorite, if I may be allowed a personal comment, are the trays, either made of bent bamboo lines or interwoven bamboo fibers!

Consult their homepage (Japanese) for the entire array and direct purchase at:
http://www/takesensuji.jp/
Visit their guild in Shizuoka City if you wish to be directly introduced to the artists at work:
Shizuoka Takesen Kougei Kyodokumiai, 420-0078, Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Hachi Bancho, 7-1
Tel.: 054-252-4924
Fax: 054-273-2679

Or if you happen to stop at Shizuoka Station, spare a minute to admire all the art works at Sumpu Raku Ichi Shop!

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

Please check the new postings at:
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日本語のブログ
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Almost “Tricolor” Fried Potatoes

The Japanese are starting to take a real interest in many varieties of potatoes as opposed to sweet potatoes.
The Missus having received a batch of them from her family’s garden, I prepared a quick appetizer last night.
I had 3 differentcolors available: red, yellow and black, that is as far their outside colors were concerned!

Once boiled, they turned to slghtly differentcolors: dark blue, light yellow and pink!
Almost tricolor (I’m in for another of BG’s comments!)!

As a general rule, I boil the potatoes before deep-frying them.
Actually, I don’t deep-fry them but use only a little olive oil. Far healthier!
As for vegans and vegetarians, just frying and seasoning them is enough, but for the sake of taste I first fry chopped bacon (with no oil). Once it has reached a crispy state, I put it a aside. I use the same fry pan without wiping it at all. I pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil (EV) for the 3 medium potatoes I had.
The potatoes wer cut into large dices with their skin.
I fried them until they had completely absorbed the oil and became brownish. I then throw in a finely chopped clove of garlic, the bacon ,black pepper and some nutmeg.

Once the garlic has started browning I pour the lot into a serving dish.
(Sorry for the last 2 pics! The Missus took them!)

Before serving them I sprinkle them with a good amount of freshly grated parmegiano. This way, I don’t need to add any salt!

Great with dark beer!

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

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

Walking to the Izakaya the Japanese Way: Geta/Japanese Clogs

Not so long ago, the sound of wooden clogs (geta/下駄 in Japanese) could still be heard at any time of the day and night in any season in cities as well as in the countryside.
This is still mentioned as one of the sounds that older Japanese miss most in modern life. A traditional saying in Japanese says that “You do not know until you have worn geta.” meaning that you cannot tell the results until the game is over.
Chefs were wearing them at work inside izakayas and sushi restaurants. Now they wear graceless white vinyl boots.
Interestingly enough, by ignoring geta in favor of Western footwear, the Japanese are not doing a favour to their own health. Instead of being constricted inside shoes with the consequent skin problems during the rainy season and sweaty socks to wear with them, geta allow free movement of the feet in the most natural environment. Contrary to belief, walking with the skin in direct contact with a wooden or lacquered surface does keep the feet at a comfortable temperature, even in the snow.
Moreover, good Japanese-made geta cost an average of 5~6,000 yen (50~60 US dollars), which make them cheaper and far more durable than Western shoes! They can be easily worn day in day out for up to 10 years according to traditional makers in Shizuoka Prefecture!
The great majority of modern geta are made abroad, especially in China these days but traditional manufacture still survives in Japan.
The City of Fukuyama in Hiroshima Prefecture produces 60% of the national output. Hida City in Oita Prefecture is also a major producer.
Traditional and high quality geta are especially made in Fukushima, Nagano, Niigata, Akita and Shizuoka Prefectures.

Geta are sometimes called wooden clogs in English because of their resemblance wit clogs and flip-flops. One could describe them as a kind of elevated wooden base held onto the foot with a fabric thong to keep well above the ground. They are worn with traditional Japanese clothing such as kimono or yukata but (in Japan) also with Western clothing during the summer months. One can still see people wearing them in rain or snow to keep the feet dry, dur to their extra height and impermeability compared to other shoes such as zori.
There are several styles of geta. The most familiar style in the West consists of unfinished wooden board called a dai (台, stand) that the the foot is set upon, with a cloth thong (鼻緒, hanao) that passes between the big toe and second toe. Although there is no need to wear socks, apprentice geisha (also called “maiko”) wear their special geta with tabi (Japanese socks) to accommodate the hanao.

Ladies will often add a protective cap called tsumakawa (爪掛) to protect their toes from the rain or mud in inclement weather.
The supporting pieces below the base board, called teeth (歯, ha), are also made of wood. Cheap clogs are made with cedar wood (杉, sugi), whereas high-quality geta are made of very light-weight paulownia (桐, kiri) imported from Northern Japan.
The teeth are usually made separately and fixed to the base board later (Funageta/船下駄), whereas more valuable geta will be carved out of a single block called (Okaku/大角).
Although great craftsmen are becoming scarce (there are only five recognized in Shizuoka Prefecture in spite of their fame), geta can and usually are suggested to be made on order, so as to perfectly “fit the feet” of its wearer.
Such footwear is becoming increasingly popular abroad where more and more people have recognized not only their practical, health and ecological values, but also for their decorative and fashion merits.

The dai may vary in shape: oval and narow for ladies to rectangular and wide for men as well as in color: natural (harigeta/張下駄), lacquered (nurigeta/塗り下駄) or stained.
The teeth of any geta may have harder wood drilled into the bottom to avoid splitting, and the soles of modern clogs of the teeth may have rubber soles glued to them.
The hanao can be wide and padded, or narrow and hard, and it can be made with many fabrics Printed cotton with traditional Japanese motifs is popular. Inside the hanao is a cord (recently synthetic, but traditionally hemp) which is knotted in a special way to the three holes of the dai. The hanao are replaceable, although breaking the thong of one’s geta is considered very unlucky!
Maiko in Kyoto wear distinctive tall geta called okobo. Also very young girls wear “okobo”, also called “pokkuri” and “koppori”, that have a small bell inside a cavity in the thick “sole”/dai. These geta have no teeth but are formed of one piece of wood. They are carved in such a way as to accommodate for walking.
Japanese professional sumo wrestlers in the lowest wo divisions of Jonokuchi and Jonidan must wear geat with their yukata at all times!

Various types of geta for the true collectors! (this list is far from exhaustive!):
-Sokugeta/足駄: real antiques as these were worn between the Heian Era and Edo Era! They became the symbolic footwear of students in meiji Era
-Yama Geta/山下駄: Square mountain Clogs made of paulownia wood and worn at the beginning of Edo Era. When made with cedar pine wood, they are called Yoshiwara geta/吉原下駄 as revellers in the Yaoshiwara Distritc used them on rainy days.
-Pokkuri Geta/ぽっくり下駄 worn by maiko, geisha and young girls, generally higher and decorated with golden motifs.
-Robou/露卯, Yanagi Geta柳下駄 worn in the early Edo Era.
-Uma Geta/馬下駄, square and made of cedar pine wood. “Horse Clogs”, called so because they sound like horse’s hooves on paved streets.
-Koma Geta/駒下駄, most common all-weather clogs until before the Meiji Era.
-Kiri Geta/桐下駄, high-quality expensive clogs made of paulownia wood. Originally finished with black lacquer.
-Odawara Geta/小田原下駄, very popular among harbor workers and fishermen in the 18th Century in spite of their high price.
-Ippon Geta/一本下駄 or Tengu Geta/天狗下駄, a clog with only one ha/歯/”tooth”. Both worn by kids and adults.
-Taka Geta/高下駄, very high clogs
-Bankara/バンカラ/Narrow clogs with high teeth, popular with older time students.

Recommended manufacture/display center:
Suruga Nuri Geta (駿河塗下駄) (designated by the Shizuoka Prefecture Government)
420-0047, Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Seikancho, 9-22
Tel. & fax: 054-253-4917
Homepage: http://www.shizuoka-kougei.jp/009.html (Japanese)

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