Brief report--first time at Izakaya Bincho
So we finally went to Izakaya Bincho early Saturday night. First, to say it is a hole-in-the-wall is an understatement...the restaurant has plastic sheeting instead of a real front wall, and only 3 tables in addition to a bar. We actually walked by it at first. Glad we found it, because the food was as good as I hoped it would be. We ordered mostly off the seasonal/chefs specials menu. We had a great lotus root sandwich (ground chicken between slices of lotus root, with an exceptionally tasty sauce--this may have been my favorite of the night), roasted gingko nuts (good, but nothing special), chicken meat balls (excellent), fried chicken with green onions (good), braised pork belly (excellent flavor and texture but large sections of pure fat...but since I suspect this is what gives the meat the great flavor and texture I can't really complain), bacon-wrapped cherry tomatoes (bites of perfection), and the chicken meat balls in broth (delicious). Everything was delicious, well-seasoned, and hearty. Service was very good. My only complaint--and this is something I haven't heard others say about Bincho--is that some of the dishes were quite salty. The worst offender in this respect was the broth with the chicken meatballs. The meatballs themselves were greatly enhanced by the broth, and in addition to a very strong salty flavor, the broth had a lot of other great flavors. So I enjoyed the broth, all the while finding it very, very salty. The next morning, I felt bloated and my fingers were so swollen from water retention that I could barely get my rings on and off--this only happens when I eat food with a LOT of salt. That said, it was worth it. I will definitely return, I'll just avoid eating certain items if I need to fit into tight clothes the next day. ;)
Salty? What salt? :) In general, Japanese folks have an extremely high tolerance to salt. I noticed the salt in the tsukune dango nabe as well, but since I'm usually splitting the soup two to four ways, it didn't really pose as an issue to me. But you're right - a mention of such things would help. I've never thought of asking, but since Tomo-san makes this from scratch, maybe one can ask him to pull back on the salt?
The buta no kakuni is braised pork belly - the same cut that bacon is made of. Small bites are usually eaten with a disproportionate amount of rice due to its unctuous layers of fat. In the future, try ordering either a nigiri (riceball) or a bowl of plain rice to go with it. Thanks for reporting back on your visit!
Thanks for adding the address. Maybe I will ask for less salt next time, I just don't want to be insulting or anything since he obviously puts a great bit of care into the food and it's still excellent even with the high salt. Thanks for the tip of ordering rice to go with the pork belly, I think that will enhance the experience. I've ordered Musha's version many times, and while less fatty, it is also ultimately less flavorful.
Great review; I'm glad you generally enjoyed the experience and Tomo-san's cooking. :)
That's strange about the salt level of their Tsukune Dango Nabe (Chicken Meatball Soup). It might've been an off-night (or I was lucky with my 3 times ordering it). I prefer my dishes on the lighter side, and while I found a few dishes too salty at Bincho, it was never the Tsukune Dango Nabe. I'll keep an eye out for it the next time I go, thanks.
You might consider their Agedashi Tofu the next time you visit - excellent dish - and as bulavinaka mentions, most of these dishes are meant to be enjoyed with either a steaming bowl of rice (to help cut through / extend the flavors), or some nice Beer or Sake. (^_~) They all help with the enjoyment of the dishes.
Also give their Zosui a try the next time as well (their excellent Chicken Soup, made-from-scratch).