Plum wine and an appetizer
Good, small izakaya/restaurant is fun to find, and once you find it, you make a friend with the owner. The owner usually cooks, and a wife usually helps. This small izakaya, Hareruya (晴れる屋), is one of those. The owner/chef seems to work alone, so he has to take care of food and service by himself, looks busy. The chef was trained in Japanese, Italian and French style. Eventually, he opened an izakaya style restaurant based on Japanese taste, although he always plays American rock’n’roll.
The décor is in wooden color, warm. The owner decorates some posters of Rolling Stones. Yeah! You see how much the owner loves Rock’n’Roll. Of course, the music he plays in the restaurant is the same. You might expect him as a singer or rocker, but he seems to be quiet person, nicely coming to us and said “Irasshaimase”. Music is not noisy, and I liked the quietness even though with the rock music. My friend and I ordered some dishes from a la carte menu.
Drinks were served first. I ordered Oolong tea, and my friend did umeshu (梅酒: plum wine). I don’t drink alcohol, but plum wine looked good. When you ordered drinks, a small appetizer, so-called Otoshi (お通し), came with drinks. Very simple tapas, but tasted good especially with drinks.
Hiyayakko (ひややっこ) was served next. It was fresh and tender. Putting extra grated ginger made tofu’s taste richer, but too much green onion killed it. It would be enjoyable if fresh tofu and some condiments were served separately.
This lamb carpaccio was amazing. You may think that lamb’s smell would be very strong, yet amazingly, no smells would be noticed until you bite it again and again. Meat was beautifully marinated with the sauce, and strong smells are gone. Once you put the slice of lamb tenderloin into your mouth, and bite it several times, the rich lamb flavor begins spreading into your mouth. I like lamb flavor, but this taste was much richer than I expected. Adding some green onion and soy sauce made this dish Japanese taste.
Main dish that I expected was Yakitori. Their yakitori menu was appropriately various. We order tsukune (つくね), suna-gimo (砂肝), and buta-bara (豚バラ), 2 pieces each. Tsukune is a Japanese-style meatball. Usually, tsukune dipped with the original sauce dips into beaten yolk. This tsukune was with Yuzu Koshou (柚子胡椒: Yuzu Pepper), which is popular condiment recently, with salt. I loved this taste better than a regular tsukune. I usually prefer salt than sauce taste, because I can enjoy the pure taste of each ingredient. It was delicious. Be careful with the power of Yuzu pepper sometimes. I mean it really depends how a chef use it. No problem if a chef uses the right one, but it occasionally happens that the poor quality of Yuzu Koshou killed the delicious dishes. Suna-gimo, a gizzard, is another favorite of mine. Many of my female friends don’t like gizzards or guts, but I like it if it is fresh one. Their gizzards were fresh, and I was pleased with the appropriate firmness. Buta-bara (pork) is delicious as well. Even though the term “yakitori” (Japanese barbecued chicken) is for a chicken, we still say Pork Yakitori. It doesn’t make sense, does it?
Interestingly, the last dish the chef served was the salad. We were expecting it earlier, though… The Japanese dressing was attractive; ginger based sauce comes with a soft-boiled egg. It seems a half-boiled egg is getting popular recently. Remember the baked cheese curry??? It is simple, but I can tell that the chef carefully selected fresh veggies from Hokkaido’s farms. Fresh veggies make me happier since I came to Sapporo.
Overall, I enjoyed the dinner at this izakaya. It is just not easy to find a place…
Total: about 6500 yen (for 2 people)
3F, Parking Tokiwa Bldg
7-3, Minami 3-jo Nishi 1-chome Chuou-ku