Tuesday, March 5, 2013

japanese food: izakaya

One of the greatest opportunities we were given in Japan was to attend an enkai (office party) of our host's fellow teachers, unwinding on a Friday evening. Not only did we get to try many new foods, we had a blast at the noisy festivities. We met up with them in progress at an izakaya, which is basically a Japanese pub. There was already food on the table and much more to come.

We started with yakitori, a common type of Japanese bar food involving chicken or some other meat and veggies grilled on skewers, and sashimi, or raw seafood.

yakitori (clockwise from left): fish cake, chicken tendon, chicken & green onion, tiny green peppers, chicken hearts, chicken wings

sashimi: hamachi, scallop, squid, shrimp, tuna

Drinking is also a huge part of the enkai, so an overflowing glass of sake was a necessity.


The sake was followed by what seemed like an unending barrage of delicious foods.

"Have you ever tried (insert food name here)?"


"Let's get some."

korokke: breaded & fried potato pancake

nigiri sushi (from left): tuna, hamachi, salmon, squid, tamago (egg)

breaded & fried baby octopus


Shabu-shabu was a revelation. Very thinly sliced & perfectly marbled beef, cabbage, and mushrooms are quickly dipped in hot broth until gently cooked. Grab some beef, swish for 3-5 seconds, then remove and drag through ponzu (we think) for the most tender and flavorful piece of meat.
dunking the shabu-shabu

Perhaps the most surprising offering at the izakaya was horse-meat sashimi, a specialty of Yamanashi. Matt partook in the chewy raw horse-meat and was glad he tried it, though he says he would not go out of his way to eat it again. In the interest of full disclosure, I did not try it at all.
horse-meat sashimi with wasabi, ginger, & green onion

We felt fortunate to be a part of the enkai, to commiserate with other teachers, and to experience an important event in Japanese work culture. That evening left us with some lovely memories.

the aftermath

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