Akitaya – Japanese Style Family Restaurant
Akitaya; Japanese Style Family Restaurant
Anybody who has been in Japan for a couple of days, understands this is the food capital of our shared earth.
Now, I’ve come across many many unique and delicious restaurants, or what we refer to as “shops” in my journey here in the Land Of The Rising Son.
Way back in the day, when I commuted a couple of days a week to Tokyo, I found myself waiting for the bus to take me back to the countryside.
As I was walking along the street near the bus terminal I saw a big open window with large puffy billows of white smoke pouring out, and diligent men in white uniforms grilling skewers of pork. There were also several customers standing at the outside counter enjoying themselves, which along with a line up at the entrance was a very good sign.
Oh my gosh, I thought to myself, is this my lucky day or what?!
Thus, I went into Akitaya, and there started a long and meaningful relationship that lasts up to this very day.
Needless to say, I was looked upon with suspicion as this shiny white face doesn’t shout out, “I know how to speak Japanese or read it either” as there of course was no English menu.
The server gruffly pointed to a seat at the very narrow counter where the patrons were elbow-to-elbow, snarfing skewers and quaffing drinks. This is where a cheap wet towel was then slapped in front of me and I was tersely asked “what da ya wanna drink!
To which I replied, in highly polite Japanese, “a bottle of beer for this hungry and weary resident of Japan, if you please”.
Well, things got smoother after that, I could read the menu, and my gosh there so were so many delectable items there, I can even taste them now.
First of all, they have what is known as motsu nikomi, which is pork tripe in miso sauce.
By the way, any Japanese shop worth their miso, always has a worthy motsu nikomi.
Of course, I ordered that along with some tongue and cheek meat and buta nankotsu (pork trachea) on a skewer.
With the very first mouthful of motsu nikomi, I could hear the angels singing hallelujah, and I knew I had at last found the elusive perfect motsu nikomi. This was simply the most outstanding motsu nikomi dish I had ever experienced up until that very moment in my entire life, with each bit of pork tripe melting in my mouth.
It got even better, as there was this old lady roaming around serving the customers and chitchatting them up like they were her very own children, which in essence they may very well have been.
Having never married, she worked her entire life in just this one shop serving the hungry and tired salary men who run the system which is Japan.
She also handed out her special homemade pickles only to the select customer that are regulars and that she liked, of which I was one.
I loved her sense of humour.
I was going to go to Akitaya one day at the end of December, it was closed, but I ran into her coming out the door. I said “ I am so disappointed that you are closed today, and I can not have your wonderful food”, to which she replied “well you can line up here until we reopen after the New Years holiday on January 4th”.
It was December 29th on that sad and hungry day.
She was the last remaining sibling of the family that established this shop after coming down from the far away northern prefecture of Akita, where these siblings opened up this pork guts shop in Hamamatsucho near my bus terminal for which I am grateful. As time marches on, she too has passed away, and her mischievous spirt lives on here in this blog and in the Land Of The Rising Son.
There were so many delightful dishes there such as kusaya, which is fermented fish that stinks when being cooked, but oh is it amazing when it melts in ones mouth as the sweet savoury meat of this fermented fish complements your favorite alcoholic beverage of choice.
I recall ordering an oolong-high (Chinese tea with shochu), there back in early days. Now remember oolong-high is a staple drink in these types of establishments, and I just though they would also have it as well. No sirree, not at Akitaya! The dry reply from the surly server was “we don’t have that here” Well, lemon-high it was from then on, as there is no paradox of choice at this shop whatsoever.
The staff members of Akitaya are also such very nice people on top of being diligent and dedicated to serving the hungry salary-people of Japan.
There you have it; a true Japanese family restaurant in the heart of Tokyo, why don’t you go?