Review excerpt: Essentially, Kotaro is an izakaya, a tavern where sake and food share equal billing, and both are there to accompany conversation and relaxation at the end of the day. But don’t arrive expecting boisterous revelry and red-faced salarymen drinking cheap highballs. Here the ...

Review excerpt: Occupying the ground floor of its owner’s home, the seating area and kitchen are crammed into a tiny space, and even the handwritten daily menu is crowded onto a small blackboard. When deciding what to try, it’s best to follow the whims, ...

Tottuan in Fukushima -- the gullet of Osaka -- is firmly in the glasnost category. It's a squat boxy restaurant with big windows that look out onto the street on one side, a snack bar at the entrance and a thoroughfare on the other ...

Once a tradesman's store, this two-story timber-frame house has had new life breathed into it, reincarnated as an izakaya tavern. Unlike its neighbors, many of which offer boisterous carousing and entertainments of a rather more dubious nature, Tamayura is quiet, wholesome and entirely welcoming.

The term "izakaya," loosely translated, means "a place where you can settle in with sake." But that glosses over the two other essential attributes: the food; and the atmosphere, the buzz, what the Irish might call the craic. Okagesan boasts all three -- sake, ...

Unlike the sake list, the food menu has evolved over the years, blending basic izakaya staples with numerous touches of creative flair.

Inevitably, your eyes will be drawn to the grill pit at the far end of the kitchen -- safely screened behind see-through plexiglass to avert any wayward sparks. Here, the resident grillmeister tends to his cuts of fish, chicken and vegetables. Instead of grilling ...

An entire section of the menu here is devoted to dishes featuring negi in all its many shapes and forms, prepared in virtually every way known to Japanese cuisine.

Besides its repertoire of izakaya standards, Shinpachi has established a name on the strength of its seafood, much of which is trucked in from ports in Toyama Prefecture on the Sea of Japan. On any given day, there are likely to be dozen different ...

The name, Sasano, is cunningly derived from alternate readings of the two Chinese characters meaning "sake" and "drink." They could well have added a couple more ideograms to boast that you will also eat very well here.

When Suzuki first opened Aramasa, the idea of providing Tokyoites with the local food and drink of furthest Akita was almost as exotic as it would be now, say, to serve Ethiopian cuisine (though, of course, he had the advantage of constant support from ...

The food is based around simple, traditional fare -- yakitori; beef tongue grilled over shichirin burners; pork shabu-shabu; simple nabe hotpots; plenty of vegetable dishes -- but all produced using ingredients of unimpeachable quality from rural Kyushu.

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