Sunday, May 25, 2008

Routine Gourmet

There are a three places that we always go to whenever we come to Tokyo, and usually we go to them more than once. One of them is Vin Vino, the other Kiryu and of course the yakitori place I wrote about in my last post.

Vin vino is a standing bar in Ebisu. It first opened in 1999 and was one of the first standing bars in Tokyo. Toshi first went there in 2000 and has been a regular patron ever since. What is special about the standing bar concept is that in a country like Japan - which has a fairly closed culture where it can be quite difficult to meet people outside of your immediate group - it allows strangers to easily mingle amongst each other. In fact it's almost impossible to not strike up a conversation with others who are there because Vin Vino is about 20 metres squared in size (including the bar itself) so with 20 people inside it feels like a very intimate gathering. Vin Vino is owned and run by Kon chan who loves 80s rock music and pumps out cheesy 80s music videos around the clock.

Vin Vino

When Toshi and I were there last December the Japanese 'Whisky World' magazine was shooting photos for a feature of standing bars in Tokyo - and we made it into the magazine!

That's us!

After a few drinks, we go to Kiryu, a two minute walk from Vin Vino. Kiryu is an izakaya (literally a place where you sit and drink) style restaurant that is very low key but serves fantastic food. There are a few dishes that we always have (their menu never changes) - yamaimo teppan (baked yam), natto (fermented soybean), maguro yamakake (raw tuna with raw egg), asari kare (clam soup curry).
Baked yam

Tuna and egg

Last night we had dinner there with friends from Jakarta - Cathy and Alan, who are in Japan on holiday and are heading off to London soon for a car rally from London to Cameroon (!!) - they have promised to do some guest blogging here with stories from their travels so I am very excited about that!

Alan, Cathy and Keiko

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