Sunday, March 12, 2017

Japan: Izakayas in TOKYO

Izakayas are a typical Japanese bar offering diners a selection of seasonal produces with an envious range of alcoholic beverages. A form of stress relief and social interaction, locals crawl here after work on just about every other day of the week and often spend prolonged hours happily “kanpai”-ing (a toasting term) and singing local tunes.

Some izakayas may specialize in serving yakitori (think grilled skewers) as it is pairs well with alcohol whilst others may choose to house fresher produces like sushi. A walk along Omoide Yokocho (piss Alley) in Shinjuku can be an eye opener for those curious enough to see but not step into one. Vibrant coloured LED lighting is used as a backdrop for their menus, usually written on manila paper.

Photographing unsuspecting models is not recommended here and may lead to minor berating. English is still rarely used in Japan and most menus do not have English translations. Having a local show you the local customaries would be beneficial but if all else fails, don’t be afraid to gesticulate with a staff.

Japanese are approachable in nature provided that mannerism has not been compromised. The only thing that may surprise you at the end is the total bill, a price that truly reflects the quality of food provided, not the owner’s attempt at taking advantage of foreign customers.

Izakayas are small establishments in general, encouraging diners to mingle with each other when in close proximities, especially when seated at the bar counter. It is fairly common for a stranger to approach you and spark conversations, especially after a few drinks to lighten the environment.

 Not a meal that I would have often although a bad week might render a sooner than expected visit. Certainly something to look forward to in Japan and as always, plenty of recommendations available from the internet.

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