3 Cheers for Aburiya Kinnosuke
I am far from an expert on izakaya establishments, but my experience with two friends at Aburiya Kinnosuke make me want to become one. I liked just about everything about the place, from its extremely warm service, to its lively but not oppressive atmosphere, to its mix of private and public tables, and of course, the food. The food!
Three of us tried about ten dishes. The dish I looked forward to the most, grilled tuna collar, was unavailable. But what we substituted for it was spectacular -- a grilled amberjack head, which also included the collar. There was a tremendous amount of meat on it, and the skin was charred perfectly. We worked on it for a long time. My other favorite dish was the grilled chicken wings with a spicy yuzu-chile (jalapeno?) relish -- a dynamite combination.
Other plates we tried and enjoyed included the smoked octopus, sweet potatoes with honey, a fabulous pork shoulder, and chicken meatballs. About the only disappointment to me was a bland but expertly fried chicken. We ordered stone pot noodles and received a soup -- we might have returned it (I think we got the wrong dish) but it smelled so good we tried it and loved it).
This sister restaurant to Yakitori Totto was less expensive than I feared, mostly because the portions are bigger than at Totto.
We ate a LOT, and had one shochu-fresh grapefruit drink each, and the bill came to $50 per person. Despite its location (45th between 2nd and 3rd Aves.), at least on Friday night, it didn't have the businessman feel -- the place was full of young, happy but decidedly undrunk food lovers. Smiles all around.
I hope that better informed folks will weigh in, but as I understand it, the word refers to bars that also serve food. Typically, they serve relatively small plates, usually bigger than what you'd be served at a tapas bar, but smaller than American entrees.
Aburiya is a little unusual in that there are more "real" entrees on the menu than mostizakaya places. Many of Aburiya's dishes are grilled, but there are also soups, stews, rice dishes, and sushi and sashimi. And desserts.
Aburiya Kinnosuke is amazing. I felt like we were back in Tokyo at a contemporary Japanese restaurant. Great attention to detail! Excellent ingredients. Everything we ate had a nice twist to it. We will definately go back.