If you are visiting friends in Nagoya and they are treating you to dinner, it would be a safe bet to assume they are taking you to one of the many branches of Yamachan that are scattered around the city. Although there are now 72 stores nationwide, a staggering 38 of those are in Aichi Prefecture, the home of this fun and lively izakaya.

The main dishes that draw in the crowds are the quintessentially "Nagoya" foods, such as miso-katsu or miso-kushi-katsu, deep-fried pork cutlets dipped in a thick, sweet miso sauce. The sweetness of these delicacies may take you unawares the first time you try them, but the taste quickly becomes familiar and moreish in equal measure.

On the subject of miso, Yamachan also serves Red Miso Ale, which is a little expensive at ¥690 a bottle but well worth a try. The miso is seen more in the nut-brown coloring and sweet aroma than in the ale's taste, which is only slightly sweeter than you might otherwise find in Japanese ales. Other beverages include cheap cocktails and fruit sours that serve their purpose of being easy to drink and quick to get you drunk, along with Yamazaki whisky and a selection of sake. There is also a variety of nonalcoholic cocktails, most of which comprise Calpis mixed with fruit juice, but they stop the non-drinkers being relegated to glugging tea.