Near the Akasaka subway stations are parallel streets to the main fairway that come alive at night, when the salaryman knocks off from work and disappears into one of the many restaurants and izakayas in the area.
Tonight I went with my Japanese colleagues to partake in this regular ritual of “entertaining your colleague”. And there place they have picked in this izakaya called Bunya 番屋.
This came as part of the otoshi お通し, a customary cover charge that every Izakaya will impose on each individual.
This was want we came for tonight, horse meat sashimi. 馬刺し Horse sashimi was from horses specially bred for their meat. Horse meat is slightly acidic tasting. Like beef, they can be eaten as a sashimi because of the dense meat prohibiting bacteria from penetrating a block of meat. Usually eaten with grated ginger, chopped scallions and sesame oil dip.
This is a perennial favourite for foreigners coming to acquaintance with Japanese cuisine. Grilled cod is fatty fish and when grilled give it that meat-like flavour. And when grilled with miso paste, the fermented soy beans gave the usually flavourless fish its umami and tastes.
There’s always a vegetable dish, and it was something that reminded me of Cantonese stir-fry. Kale with shredded snow crab was our veg, and it was cold.
And right before the main course, we were served some sweet potato tempura, a bit like our local goreng pisang. I considered this as a dessert because of the sweetness these Japanese sweet potato have.
The finest Iberian pigs raised on acorns are called “Bellota” in Spanish and Banya has a contract with a specialty store of Iberian pork to supply their restaurants with Bellota shoulder loin and ribs.
You take a slice of that fine Iberian pork belly and passed it through the kelp-based soup stock, and as it made the sounds of “shabu-shabu“. You do not need to overcook the meat, and you can enjoy the meat wrapped in scallions and chopped lettuce and then dipped in their special ponzu sauce. Feel the fats of the pork melt in your mouth.
This was an old visit many years ago, and I did not take picture of the surrounding as it seemed rude at that time. The decor was made up of tiny rooms where everyone sat on tatami mats with sunken floors which you can put your feet into if you are not used to eating cross-legged on the floor. The food was OK, not something that you would make a detour to. But because of its convenience to my office location, private rooms and the budget friendly menus, my folks love to come here after work.
Izakaya Banya 番屋 赤坂店
〒107-0052 東京都港区赤坂2-14-34 パロスビル1F
Date Visited : Feb 2017
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