Thanks to its moderate sunny days in the past weeks, I've entertained myself cycling to my workplace almost everyday. Regardless of the season, it's always a little piece of my pleasure being outside: feeling the shaky air in the winter, smelling strong sweet Teriyaki sauce while passing along a casual Japanese restaurant. And anytime I go out, there's something new to find. So, I'm sure I keep on riding as long as the calm weather continues :)
Opening up the door, I heard the voice of several chefs saying welcome in loudly. Every time I hear such a strong, powerful greeting, I feel as if I'm finally coming back where I should be. I always like its atmosphere.
A couple weeks ago, I visited a Japanese restaurant Uokin (魚金), which is becoming famous for its fresh fish for low price over a few years. Located right beside a main gate of Kabuki-cho (歌舞伎町) in Shinjuku, it's really convenient place to get together and eat together. So...
Why don't we start with a glass of draft beer? :)
Okay, it's time to decide what to eat. I looked carefully at a hand-written menu as I continued to sip beer. Most of the dish is cooked with fish, like sliced fish simmered with sweet sauce, deep-fried puffer fish, fresh oysters. No wonder why these fish restaurants usually have hand-written menu: They go to the market almost everyday, and the dish they serve depends on what they get in the market, as well as its season. On that day, early autumn, oyster and puffer fish dish seems their recommend, or "Dish for tonight". Well, I decided to take assort of sashimi :)
Wow...so gorgeous :D Sliced Tuna at the center, Katsuo comes near side, some sushi, red shell fish Aka-gai (赤貝), and many more! The dish is pretty reasonable, only 1980yen for a plate, it's almost $22 at this rate.
Have some deep-fry fish? :)
I was so satisfied that I drunk a lot that day, haha. After leaving Uokin...
Let's move on to the other side of Shinjuku. Called Memory Lane or "Omoide Yokocho 思い出横丁", it's a relaxing place to many business person seeking for a casual, budget-friendly restaurant like $15 for drinking and eating after working. Although it already parred 9 o'clock in the evening, the alley was still packed so many people eating in and out of restaurants. Okay, let's have some Chinese food.
With some alcohol, I had a wonderful evening in Shinjuku :)
Although we can see cities holding a festival every few months, Tokyo is a hot place to find it. Walking in a local district, especially summer, you can easily hit a festival taken place, where shops are decorated with colorful handmade ornaments made of papers and woods. Last months, September, I happened to walk into a road near Chofu Station, where a small local festival was held.
As I walk through a shrine along the busy street, I noticed many lamps were displayed. It was unusual, since I've never seen any of this before. It was still late afternoon, hence the sun was shining weakly but surely. As I approached, I smelled sweet teriyaki sauce in the air. "That's it" I thought. This flavor deeply reminds me of festivals.
I took a glance at each of drawings on the lamps' shades. They were all handwritten, and to be honest, they were so beautiful.
There were small temporary stalls along with a narrow stone path. They were selling flied potatoes, sausages (German style, they called it), yakisoba, and even kebab. Among them, I discovered a shop selling grilled chest nuts (That's why they call this festival kuri-matsuri,くり祭り, named after chest nut in Japanese)
(I hadn't seen kebab at festivals in my young age, but it looks they've got a regular menu for festivals nowadays.)
After a while, a special car for festivals were finally took off to a main street. Ordinary, this road is packed with cars and pedestrians in the business hours. But today, the unique car called "dashi (山車)" became the only one that can be allowed on the road.
Okay, we have to check it out what it's like :)
Initially, many people grab ropes tied with the car, then pull them altogether. They also have a small place which is available for a few people dancing singing along with playing traditional instruments. While I was watching it, two children wearing masks were dancing, waving their hands and legs like forever.
On one area, which is usually a pedestrian road, was now for adult having beer and snacks. It looks festivals bonds people living there, children and adults alike. I like the atmosphere like that, though I hardly participate it. I couldn't help hoping these tradition remain as it is, at least for a while :)
A friend of mine and I visited a Tonkatsu, deep fried pork restaurant in a late August. Located just near the Tokyo Tower, I found a festival taken place on narrow streets on my way. Let's check it out before getting to the restaurant :)
With dark, wet evening, it was so exotic, fancy mood on the streets. I love this kind of mood: red lamps lining up above the streets, people chatting endlessly with glasses of beers and wines in their hands every corner of the road. Okay, it's time to eat :)
Among the tiny, old, a bit dirty buildings near Daimon Station, I found a light colored wooden counter table in front of the kitchen as I open the door of Nomoto-ya (のもと家, Facebook page is here) . It might be wonderful if you come alone, sitting on a chair, taking a glance at chefs cooking dishes while you're waiting for your dish to come. We took a seat besides the windows, asking them to bring some shochu (焼酎), a kind of Japanese strong liquior, ordinary around 25% of alcohol, made out of potatoes, rice and such. Apparently, they have a variety of Shochu on the menu. No wonder, I thought, since Tonkatsu is a soul food in Kyushu region, like Shochu. About 10 minutes later...
Here it comes :)
Though I am a big fan of Tonkatsu, had many experience to visit Tonkatsu restaurant before, I had never seen such a thick pork as it was. They also served salt, wasabi, soy sauce along with sweet sauces, so I could taste different ways for each piece. The food price for each person ranges from $20, but I think it's worth it ;)