Jusanya (kushiyaki) in Tokyo
I went for the third time on Friday night to Jusanya, a kushiyaki (grilled things on skewers) restaurant in Kanda Ogawamachi, near Shin-Ochanomizu. It's just down the street from the sake shop where I take classes, and although it's not the same owner, you can drink by the glass most of the types of sake sold in the store. The food is as good as the sake, however, which I think is impressive.
The restaurant itself is very small--seats about 11 at tables and 10 or so at the counter. It's a very friendly place, too, which seems to be frequented by both people who work in the area and fans of the sake shop. When I called to make the reservation, Takahashi-san, who mans the grill, gave me the equivalent of "It's always a pleasure", and I was impressed that he already remembered me.
You can order off the a la carte menu for food, but I usually go for the Jusanya course, which starts off with some vegetable dishes, including raw vegetable sticks and miso for dipping. I know this is found at most yakitori/kushiyaki type places, but something about this miso is just really good. The skewers that follow (about 10 in all) also don't vary that much from the norm--shrimp, scallops, tsukune (a sort of chicken meatball), chicken breast, beef tongue, etc.--but everything is of very good quality and perfectly seasoned. At the end of the meal, there's rice and miso soup, and dessert (the black sesame ice cream is my recommendation). The course itself is 2900 yen, if I remember correctly.
There are over 20 types of sake on the menu, plus a few more on the specials board. I started with a glass of Shikisakura's Kashin, which is one of their less expensive ones, but has the light fruity taste which is typical of this brand. For the second glass, I had Jokigen's Omachi Ginjo, which is a more strongly flavored sake which I've found stands up very well to most foods. (This was one of the specials--it's "hatsunomikiri", which is when they siphon off a certain amount from the tanks in mid-summer to see how it's coming along. Hatsunomikiri tends to have somewhat higher alcohol content, since they haven't added water.) I finished off with a glass of Hanahato's Kijoshu, which I've mentioned in a previous post--an aged sake with some similarity to sherry. Either you love it or you hate it, but I think it's a very nice after-dinner drink.
All in, our dinner cost slightly under 5000 yen a head. Takahashi-san followed us outside at the end of our meal to bid us good night and reassure us that we wouldn't be hungover in the morning.
2-4 Kanda Ogawamachi, Tokyo
The nearest subway stop is Shin-Ochanomizu on the Chiyoda line, Ogawamachi on the Shinjuku line, and Awajicho on the Marunouchi line.