Izakayas...

Shigure deserves far more love than its getting. It's rarely busy and always delicious. The staff is cordial, even friendly, which isn't always the case in NYC restaurants. It's out of the way for most people, because izakaya lovers are almost conditioned to spend their time in Midtown or the Village. Shigure is a bit out of the way, but it's worth the trip - over and over again. Read More...

Walking past the graffitti'd walls of a recently closed latin bar, you see the sign for Yuki. The immediate surprise is the live music emanating from inside. That shouldn't be a surprise in New Orleans, but it is from an izakaya. Inside there's a tiny "stage" (end of the bar) where artists perform live music every night of the week. Read More...

In the most unlikely of places, Daikaya sits atop an eponymous ramen shop, across the street from the city's basketball-hockey arena. Through the door marked simply "izakaya" (in English with no accompanying aki-chochin lantern) you climb a narrow staircase to a large open space. Read More...

SakaMai may not be the kind of place that you can afford to eat every night, but you're going to want to. The food, drinks, atmosphere, and staff make this an absolutely perfect night out. I'd like to come up with a quibble so it doesn't seem like I'm completely biased ... okay, here's one. Read More...

Traditionally in an izakaya dining experience, you'll finish the night with a noodle or rice dish in order to fill up after the otsumami (small drinking snacks) courses. An alternative that's quite popular with many Japanese drinkers, is to stop off for a bowl of late night ramen. Typically these ramen shops will be packed with happily drunk people slurping bowls of soup while chatting boisterously with lots of laughter. Read More...

After visits to LA, SF, Chicago, and Vancouver my expectations for izakaya scenes in other North American cities had diminished. While the izakayas I visited in those cities were authentic and interesting, there were not many of them. Vancouver had the most robust scene with a half dozen or so izakayas in the city center including the delicious Kingyo and Guu outposts. Read More...

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