Whenever I am stressed out by the week’s work, I would always hide into an izakaya with colleagues and decompress with bar food and a cold one.
There are many izakayas around the Changning area because of the concentration of Japanese corporations and expat community. Just inside Metro Town, there were six. I have been to 4 of them, this is the fifth – Chidori-ashi Izakaya 千岛足, located behind the alley of the mall.
You cannot see what’s going on inside from the outside because there’s no open windows. But I know by instinct it’s a good one, when you see Japanese customers smoking at the entrance with the owner-chef. This is an Izakaya-yakitori place, which means it’s not good as a yakitori, and not much of an Izakaya too.
We ordered a trio of starters – stewed cow’s tongue, wasabi octopus and shredded yamaimo (mountain yam). Just something to munch on while we waited for the rest of the food to arrive.
An Okinawa dish caught my eye, bitter gourd with spam. I love spam but I don’t like bitter gourd. But when I first tasted this combination in Tokyo, I feel in love with it immediately. They did it very well, and the addition of a third ingredient, tofu, was perfect balance of the bitterness and saltiness.
Another must-order for me in an Izakaya – grilled mentaiko (spicy cod roe). Not really a cuisine, just grilling mentaiko would not count as cooking. But the spicy, salty, crunchy bits of fish eggs were perfect with a cold one and with onigiri.
This place is an izakaya, and also a yakitori grill. So they offered all the standard Izakaya grilled items – cow tongue, pork belly, wagyu beef bacon, etc.
And they also have the yakitori stuff like teriyaki chicken, chicken thigh with leek, bonjiri, etc. And the izakaya must-have – the grilled puffer fish fins.
I was so surprised that most of the items were served cold. It must have been grilled and left aside for some time.
The only item I loved was their grilled chicken wings. The skins were crispy, well salted. The flesh remained tender and moist. Perfect with beer or highball.
There are two grilled items I would almost always order – grilled onigiri (rice ball) and grilled salmon fish head. Their onigiri is a simple rice-only creation without any other embellishment except for a swipe of soy sauce on the exterior. The onigiri was grilled to a crispy on the outside, like the burnt rice at the bottom of a claypot – very fragrant and strangely satisfying.
The grilled salmon fish head is usually a by-product of the sushi restaurant. After all the fish is served, a head remained. And the best way to serve it is either cook it in miso soup or grill it. Grilling a salmon fish head is nice because of the fattiness of the fish which reacts well the high heat of grilling. But here, it was a bit dry and the fish was rather puny.
And nothing better than a miso soup to wash down all those grease and alcohol. The miso soup is nothing to shout about, it tasted like what you get in all Japanese bento restaurant. But it just felt right to end the evening in an Izakaya with a hot bowl of misoshiru.
The owner-chef was running around the place, serving the customers, exchanging banters with his broken and limited Mandarin. And if he found someone that can speak Japanese, he would immediately turned on his Osaka-businessman mode and engaged in small talk.
The atmosphere of the place was lively for a Friday evening. The tables turned at a steady pace. While the food was just alright, it would be a good place to unwind, have a drink or two, and relax for a while.
Chidori-ashi Izakaya 千岛足
890 Changning Road | 长宁路890号玫瑰坊1楼36-38商铺 (Huichuan Road | 汇川路)
Tel : +86 21 5241 7771
Date Visited : Dec 2019