On this evening my friend & coworker Azusa, aka A-chan, was my guide to Yakitori Alley in the Yurakucho area of Tokyo. A short walk from Ginza and tucked away between buildings underneath tracks for the Yamanote line is this bustling alley full of amazing restaurants and astounding people watching opportunities.
I have never seen anyone drink Tequila quite like a group of Japanese salary men who were pounding it inside this beef restaurant that A-chan and I stopped in.
Many of the restaurants utilized these plastic sliders to provide easy accessibility for the servers while providing some measure of privacy from the people walking past. Being clear as they are, your view of the mayhem going on just beyond your table is unhindered.
Raw cabbage with sesame dressing to dip, a crisp and refreshing start.
Whiskey on the rocks, always a good way to warm from the inside out.
Grilled beef skewers, perfectly bordering between crisp on the outside and juicy inside.
Horumon, or innards, I believe.
Shirako served lightly blanched in a soy based sauce with grated momoji oroshi (spicy daikon) to garnish. Have you ever tried shirako? To put it bluntly, they're the sperm sacs of cod. It's not uncommon to enjoy the gonads or reproductive systems of female fish and crustaceans (uni, salmon roe, caviar, etc.) but given the nature of the male fish's secretions they're not as popular.
They're really not bad, with a flavor and texture reminiscent of warm cream cheese.
Not necessarily something I would recommend cooking at home, as it's not easy to get it right (believe me, I've tried). Best left to the professionals, but delightful if you can get past the "ick" factor. ;)
Fish roe salad, keeping the theme.
The interior was packed and smokey from all the meat being grilled in the back.
A to-go window?
We ended with some caffeine at a nearby shop.
On our walk back to the station we encountered several supremely drunk gentlemen who were trying to subdue their friend and send him home. That's generally about the worst of what I've seen, as violence and bad behavior were pretty rare. I spotted the occasional drunk sprawled out on the floor of a late night train and encountered the random bit of rudeness here or there, but for the most part Japan felt extremely safe.
If given the chance, I would gladly return to yakitori alley and sample some of the other fine restaurants tucked away inside it's depths. ^_^
Have you ever been?
How was your experience?