Izakaya Nonbei

This is a funky little Japanese restaurant that makes you wish every neighborhood had one. There are the usual low tables, but also a comfortable bar with a rack of personally labelled scotch bottles. The owner is from the northern part of Japan, so the place is decorated with lovely wooden traditional Japanese snow gear, including special snow shoes for cows.

There were no cows present. The restaurant specializes in sea food. The menu was in Japanese, with some transliteration into roman-ji, so we could make some educated guesses. For example, we know that "toro" is high quality tuna, not a particularly delectable brand of riding lawn mower. We asked our waitress for advice. We like just about everything, so that is what we got.

We started off with shaved daikon and miso soup while the chef warmed up in the kitchen. Then came the clams with garlic butter. Not exactly classical Japanese food, but sweet and tender. We went on to the eggplant with enoki mushrooms, the octopus with spicy mustard and oysters on the half shell with ponzu seaweed. We ate the deep fried flounder, bones and all.

Then came the gyoza, succulent little ones. As noted earlier, this isn't exactly classical Japanese cooking. We did have some more traditional dishes, including toro and maguro sashimi, fresh and delicious, some little white fish we never could quite identify, served with salmon roe sushi, and soba noodles with a bowl of dipping sauce.

All through our meal, people came and went. Some just wanted a drink, of scotch, or a beer. Others had a few dishes. We'll warn you, a number of them smoked. They all spoke Japanese and seemed to be in a pretty good mood. As each new dish arrived, we were too.

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