Driving by, it was learned that VDL, Sanko and Sukoi were no more.
A small waiting area by the entrance, series of four-party tables along the walls, and a communal squoval table at the back assumed the layout of the narrow izakaya. Stone walls - or perhaps concrete with opaque, stone-like finishing - along with wooden furnishings and a classic-meets-concurrent bamboo ceiling embellishment. Wooden plaques bearing the names of individual menu items also doubled as coat hangers, as we were so informed by staff.
Once the group assimilated, the first round of orders was submitted to a bubbly waitress - a Japanese lady whose kindness permeated through her speedy utterances.
None of us had expected the Shishamo to be delivered as a single skewer serving. It was a delicious starter, with its surface grilled and even slightly charred. Internal components remained supple as well. Togarashi-dusted mayo was another noteworthy element on the plate. The only downside was the portion size.
Tangy and tender, the Umeshiso Yaki flaunted a wonderful blend of traditional Japanese seasonings atop perfectly-cooked chicken thigh bites.
- Chicken Gizzard
- Umeshiso Yaki
- BBQ Beef Don
- Negi Tongue
- Okunomatsu Momo Toro
- Okunomatsu Toro Ringo
- Natto Bakudan
- Negidaku Tuna Tataki
- Houjicha Pudding
- Kuro Goma Brûlée >
Pungent as should be; The shallow dish of Takowasa contained a heavier handful of salt than preferred, but was nonetheless delicious with toasted seaweed strips.
Laminated menus permanently resided in a slot by the table, supplemented by drink menus and limited-time offerings. Unveiled midway through our first round of munchies was a sheet depicting Hakkaisan Snow Aged Junmai Ginjo (3 Years). The group was in favour of this spontaneous taste-testing, thus we proceeded with 100 ml each of the Okunomatsu Toro Ringo and Okunomatsu Momo Toro.
The decision was wise, for Momo - Japanese for "peach" - was a product of thicker consistency and leading notes of artificial flavour. "Peach Calpico" was the instant association: a synthetic foundation shrouded in sugar. Needless to say, I gulped the last of the Ringo afterwards to clear the palate.
Similar to the takowasa, toasted nori strips (and an additional mound of wasabi) accompanied the skillet. These five strips were insufficient, so we requested a few more from a suit-donning member of staff. He had acknowledged our request with a smile, but failed to clarify that a surcharge would take effect. For a meager fifty cents, it wasn't an enormous issue, however I would have appreciated a greater degree of transparency at management's end.
Houjicha Pudding was a very jiggly specimen - reminiscent of steamed egg pudding - but milkier than it was flavourful. I must admit to being particularly intrigued on the steps taken to infuse the dessert, for there were no discernible specks of tea leaves within.
Anko properly sweet and textured, it would have been an apt accomplice for injeolmi or kinako; in this placement, however, the chunky paste overpowered the fragility of houjicha. The group agreed that it could have also done without the whipped cream.
Skewer servings are individual portions, not sets of two or three as we had assumed, hence making them the pricier picks off the menu. Rice bowls and medium-sized plates were ideal for sharing without fear of breaking the bank.