Is it too soon — postquake, post-tsunami and still mid-nuclear crisis — to eat, drink and be merry? It's certainly a valid question. The answer, for us at any rate, is no, especially if we know that by doing so we can provide a small measure of support for the devastated areas. And most especially if the location happens to be the excellent Namikibashi Nakamura.

This classy Japanese tavern (it feels way too sophisticated to be termed an izakaya, even though the underlying ethos is really not so different) is not a place for carousing, drowning your sorrows or forgetting the woes of the world. Rather, it's one of those tasteful, understated places where good food, drink and atmosphere combine in a seamless, satisfying whole.

For many a year now, Nakamura and its equally fine sister operations have been among our default go-to places when we crave quality Japanese cuisine in refined but casual mode. We love sitting at the long counter, watching the chefs at work while we nibble, sip, chat and relax. We enjoy the atmosphere, the quiet, steady buzz of appreciation that fills the dining room. And most of all, we like to congratulate ourselves for having managed to find it in the first place.