June 7, 2009

Ishiyaki Osusume in Sannomiya - Some Solid Local Advice

On Saturday night, we went out in Sannomiya with our friends Bob and Maho. Although we have done a (we think) respectable job wandering through the many restaurants on Saturday nights, it is always nice to have native Japanese speakers with you. It opens up the world of the more non-descript kanji-menu only places. And, we learned, it allows you to get awesome local advice on where to eat.

We started off at a hole-in-the-wall tachi-nomi (standing-up bar) that also served appetizers and excellent kushiage, which, along with yakitori, is pretty much the perfect accompaniment to a cold beer. The place had maybe 8 spots along the counter, and aside from us, there were a couple of regulars, who had been drinking there for a while. They were friendly, and engaged in some standard Kansai vs. Tokyo banter with Bob and Maho. When we asked for a next place recommendation, he thought for a while, before recommending a place called Isshian. He tried to give us directions there, but then thought the better of it, and decided he would walk us to the place (a few blocks away) by himself. We all were pretty certain that he was going to atually join us for dinner, but he didn't. He did have some words for the waiter there when he ordered up our table, telling them to take good care of us since he had recommended the place!

Issian is an ishi-yaki (hot-stone cooking) restaurant. This was a new type of restaurant for us. Ishi-yaki is an ancient cooking method and is traditionally done with seafood, but now includes meat too. The menu included all sorts of fresh seafood, chicken, meat, and vegetables that you cook on a large hot flat volcanic rock set in the middle of the table. And the food was awesome. One of the great things about many Japanese foods is the simplicity. Its just about the fresh ingredients - in this case nice fat scallops, chicken, and fresh fish, cooked very simply and served with sauces like soy, or with salt, or with a miso or garlic paste.

Hmmm. I think we might need one of these stones for back home. We could cut a hole in our kitchen island and just plop it right in there . . . .

They also had terrific rice. Each bowl is made to order; each cooked in a stoneware bowl in a hot oven and finished by steaming in a wood-covered bowl in the table for the final two minutes (They place a sand-timer on the table for the final countdown).

So thank you, random drunk Japanese guy, for leading us (literally) to this incredible meal. We never even caught your name!

1 comment:

jackaw said...

You rightly give the kids kudos for good work at school and a good attitude to life in Japan. You deserve a bunch also for living life with your minds and souls open. Well done. What has happened in Japan is in large part your doing.

Love ya and see ya soon!