Izakayas...

Izakaya Honda Ya is a gem in an unlikely place. It sits on the 3rd floor of a shopping mall in Little Tokyo just east of Downtown LA. When the taxi dropped us off we thought we had the wrong address. There's nothing on the outside to suggest an izakaya awaits inside, but we went into the mall full of closed up boutiques, and took the escalators to the 2nd floor. From there we saw the neon Kirin Beer sign and a gaudy neon “open” sign beckoning to us from the level above. Read More...

Sometimes it is best to rely on good luck than preparation. On our third night in Fukuoka, after visiting Kitaya Shuzo & Nishi Yoshida during the day, we met up with Seikai's friends from school for dinner at an organ meat izakaya (story on that experience coming soon). Afterward a few of us decided to have one more drink - shochu of course. Read More...

A yatai is a small, mobile food stand with a few seats around the outdoor kitchen. In Fukuoka there were dozens of these stands lining sidewalks late night near popular drinking areas. After a full night of izakaya hoping and a bar or two you'll stumble to one of these stands for a meal to top it all off. This helps fight off the potential hangover and the food just tastes so good. Read More...

I've decided to take a pilgrimage. This isn't easy for me since I don't speak much Japanese outside of restaurants and my “real” career is busier than ever, but I booked a trip to Japan this summer. In fact, I'm on Japan Airlines (JAL) flight #5 from JFK to Tokyo Narita as I write this. Planning this trip has been so daunting, I've only been able to tweet about it. I realized on my way to the airport that many of my friends didn't even realize I was going. A text from our graphic designer read, “Hey man, plans today?” I replied, “Heading to Japan.” He replied, “Hot damn. When you back?” Read More...

There are few places in New York City where you legitimately feel like you could be sitting in Tokyo. Most places are either too big or too small or the proportions of the space are just off in some subtle way. Perhaps there's a Latino bus boy or English signage. There's almost always something that gives away that we're in the U.S. At Tori Shin you have to look very, very closely and the evidence only appeared in early 2012. Read More...

Essentially an izakaya is a Japanese tavern. But it's also Japanese tapas. And it's a Japanese gastropub. So perhaps the way to think of an izakaya is as a Japanese gastro-tapas-pub. Don't plan on having a 45 minute meal before a movie. Don't plan on going and having a starter, a main, and a dessert. Go planning on having a long, lingering meal over good drinks and better conversation with a group of great friends. Make an evening of it. Once you're in that mindset the rest is easy. Read More...

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