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Joumon Roppongi: Fancy Yakitori, Spicy Yuzu and Free Cabbage in the Nocturnal Hell.

Joumon Roppongi, 5 Chome, Tokyo, Japan / 17 апреля 2017

You have to wait outside or reserve a table (but even if you have made a reservation, you may have to wait anyway). The place is smoky and narrow. It smells like food. It is not just narrow; it is fucking tight, barefoot on the “catwalk”, along the narrow-narrow counter. Packed with foreigners.

Hold on! Why did we even show up?

To eat!

Essentially all they have is yakitori! Off course, they have some «normal food», but it is less interesting. Everything is “right off the knife”. You see it in the glass case, it is gathered there just before the night opening and it rapidly runs out. There is no ready-to-eat stuff in the fridge.

Consequently, it radically affects the quality of the food on your plate.

In general, their «approach» deserves mentioning. For example, chicken hearts are cut lengthways and put along the skewer in the form of a flat sheet in order to be grilled the MINIMUM amount of time, without drying the hell out of them and so on.

Besides the food, it is noisy, cheerfully noisy. There are many types of fruit wines, which are very light, made of various fruits from yuzu to pears. There’s a few unexpected hits like cherry tomatoes in the thinnest bacon. You’d say, “so what?” but there’s an explosion in the mouth.

Oh well, and as a matter of fact, falling out after the dinner into the nocturnal Roppongi with its infernal neon clinking trash doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

Do enjoy!

Itamae Sushi Ginza (chain): All Sushi Shops Are Equally Good, Yet Some of Them Are Better.

Itamae Sushi Ginza Corridor, Chuo, Tokyo, Japan / 11 апреля 2017

This is another pencil case inside a wall. It has a counter, three tables and two sushi masters. There’re even foreigners and Japanese with suitcases, who drop by either before their train or before their plane, – both types of visitors are worth a lot.

The menu has only one page, it’s laminated, the rest (sea urchin sashimi, starters, something else) should be spotted among the slate pencil writings on the walls. And it’s in Japanese.

Overall, this place offers an incredible generosity attack: tuna set – 1000 Yen, for a fucking thousand Yen! And it’s tuna set of an incredible quality!

And almost everything is like that.

However, some items are more expensive than what you find in conventional sushi shops: uni sushi goes for 700 Yen, but the quality hits your gums and taste receptors strongly.

Actually, you can see all of it in the pictures, which are literally bulging out!

The place is open for lunch and then Monday through Friday till three a.m., just like many other places at Ginza (which is really convenient). Oh yeah, and we haven’t checked the other restaurants of the chain – only the hallway at Ginza – but something prompts me they’re all good.

Do enjoy!

AW Kitchen Figlia: “Well-Trained Vegetables”, Reinvented pasta, Perfectionism and Women Like in “Sex and the City”.

Japan, Tokyo, Minato, Minamiaoyama, 3 Chome−18−5 AW kitchen figlia 青山店 / 29 марта 2017

Now there are many brunches all across Tokyo, but when we accidentally ran into this place in a corner of Omotesandō for the first time, it was the only one.

You fall in love or you leave at once, immediately.

A tiny place as if I came into an apartment. It is for 20 people maximum, packed with guys from local over-luxury neighborhood. You look at them during the lunch and you can’t get if they are real people or elaborately dressed models who at any minute will run off to a shooting/fashion show.

It is at this place where they baked coal-black bread with ink of cuttlefish, mixed lemon juice sorbet with liquid nitrogen directly at your table and replaced butter with yogurt and cheese mousse way back about ten years ago. They were first to experiment with components in order to deceive your mind and as well to put all the bottles into a bowl for punch in the center of the hall as if it was one big party, and many other things.

In short, they used to play all those tricks which became popular much-much later.

Officially, it is called “a pasta house”.

There is a lot of pasta in the short menu. It is all awesome and seasonable, reinvented in Japanese style. Carbonara, where bacon is replaced with crunchy fried oyster mushrooms, but you can hardly notice it, only after having examined carefully each component, because mushrooms replace meat just perfectly. Fettuccine with foam of onions and fennel, spaghetti with a cloud of the thinnest threadlike mushrooms instead of parmesan.

I should mention “the vegetable salad” separately. If you remember, the protagonist in one of Murakami’s novels used to buy “well-trained vegetables” in Kinokuniya: each vegetable tried to be the best of itself extremely hard. Kinokuniya is just across the road but, as we found out, they get vegetables from nearly all parts of the country: this root comes from this particular farm, this carrot’s from that place, this radish is from this certain island, another is from a different one.

In the end, they bring you a bowl with thin slices of root crops stuck in ice quite chaotically. Vegetable pieces come with haulm leaves and flowers, and even those flowers are edible (and indeed should be eaten). With this bowl they bring you a scoop with sauce heated by a candle. The sauce is the specialty of the house and is thick and creamy/ anchovy.

You can even see it in the photo, each vegetable, each green sprout is PERFECT, as if it was manufactured and printed on 3D printer. Each vegetable has a hyper-concentrated taste of its own, ideal like in our imagination.

PS: Besides, there’s wonderful fried chicken with fern and a palette of seasonable tomatoes of all kinds, sweat and sour, black and striped white and so on. They serve them for degustation, about ten types at once, cut into halves and on ice like oysters.

La escollera: Almost a Cost-Free Fish Restaurant to the Right of Gibraltar.

Restaurante La Escollera, Calle Puerto Pesquero, Estepona, Spain / 24 марта 2017

You input into the navigator: Estepona, then the address and race out of Marbella.

Our place is right after some so-called “luxury resort”. There’s a concrete parking, some warehouses, trucks and a mesh fence which walls off the pier. There’s a fish shop here as well. Everything’s just wonderful!

We enter. Through the fish store, of course.

The same inside. A tiled floor, ornate plaited ceiling, fluorescent lamps, oilcloths on the tables, simple standard spoons/forks, and plastic menus; chic!

And the same for the people. Very understandable people, there were families or couples, or folks eating alone. They came here just to eat.

Not to present themselves, nor to watch the sea. No, people have come here simply to eat fish. To eat lots of fish. So they do!

There’s nothing more to write about. See the pictures. They take out what they have managed to catch from the same buckets in the shop behind the wall and put it on the scale, wham!

Grill, pan, frito.

Because of the quality of the initial product, which is not over-tortured, and the fact that the visitors are locals, you won’t fool around with them, everything turns out to be pretty good.

And yes, everything in the pictures cost us slightly more than 100 Euros for two people. We barely rolled out there. In the direction of Gibraltar.

Pappagallo: Cruel Humiliation by “Simple Food”™.

Ristorante Pappagallo, Piazza della Mercanzia, Bologna, Metropolitan City of Bologna, Italy / 20 марта 2017

On top of everything else, you can hardly think of anything weirder than the city of Bologna. There are infinite galleries with the tables arranged directly under them. People don’t get out from beneath those Gothic roofs, and you are perplexed; how and why did they fucking build hundreds of thousands of those columns, which actually were not free of charge. Just for fun?! (It’s not figuratively speaking, there are about a million of them in here.)

You are perplexed exactly until the moment it starts to rain. I mean, before that you thought you’d seen all kinds of rain, the one in Thailand one during the rainy season, in Venezuela, in Florida… oh well.

Fuck no!

It turns out, all that was just drizzling. It is even weirder to imagine the look of the city with two hundred hundred-meter tall towers while watching the two remaining ones.

In short, I am trying to say that after experiencing such a city, you are completely ready for a weird restaurant.

And you get it.

So, we found ourselves in another three-storied Gothic coffin with high, uncomfortable white, usual Gothic arches. There was unpleasant light, unpleasant furniture, and even more unpleasant waiters in white elbow length gloves and with pathos on their ugly faces. We were ready to get out. But “alright” I thought, “let’s sit down”.

We ordered and waited tensely. Well, we thought — the center, touristy, dal 1919 — bullshit is guaranteed, god damn this concierge from the hotel.

They brought us some unintelligible sausages/cheeses/olives.

Our fears were coming true.

What happened next was a humiliation show. They probably act it out for all tourists, while grinning (the waiter himself advised what to order, aha).

In the end, we ordered the dumbest classics: lasagna bolognese, again cotoletta bolognese (cordon bleu™), and pasta with boar ragout – just for a laugh.

But we couldn’t laugh.

It was exactly that lasagna that was the first shot: for some reason it was a huge cake under green sauce, and from above a dude did a little “whack-whack” with a grater on a head of parmesan. The plate was covered with a cheese cloud, which having settled, still remained “hanging” some 15 centimeters above the surface of lasagna.

The word “delicious” doesn’t even start do describe it. We had our eyes bugging out. But it is wasn’t the end.

The very same cordon bleu™ was served out of the blue. There was a thin layer of meat on bone in a crunchy deep fry. The side dish was the thinnest straws of fried zucchini.

Use your imagination: you take a fork and, having carried it through all the «patty», you divide it so that at the same time the layers of cheese/meat/dough don’t mix up as if it is cut with a laser. In exactly the same way, without losing its texture, it spreads in the mouth. Damn, this is a fucking ordeal.

A fucking patty! In a fryer!!!

Then there was a crazy pasta, but I can barely remember it after all.

So, this is what has later mutated into the ready-to-eat products for the microwave. It’s actually impossible to recognize its descendants in the original stuff, which are everywhere nowdays in cardboard packs. Just like you can’t recognize the Pharaoh ancestors in present-day Egyptians.

All told, if you are in Bologna — stop by, it is a true experience!

Ristopescheria da Mery: A Great Seafood Restaurant in a Tourist Hell.

Ristopescheria da Mery, Viale Galliano, Cecina, Province of Livorno, Italy / 18 марта 2017

Nothing “military.” Just wildly delicious, extremely tiny seafood place on the road.

«With all the regular stops»: old ladies on Prosecco, grumpily asking: «Where is the pizza!?»; typical brainless Americans with their, “Does anyone speak English in here?”, a picture menu and even a fish shop right inside the restaurant.

But it’s mad tasty.

Around there is a slutty “three stars” resort town. Obviously, it has nothing to do with the Michelin Guide. Teenagers and airbeds are everywhere. Nothing special, but if you’re heading to Rome, for example, it is a great place for lunch (drunk driving though is not easy in the heat).

Everything is unsophisticated and tasty. Again, there’s the thinnest fritto, crudo, and pan roasting. Plus, various EXCELLENT pasta dishes. The “cheerful housewife” is especially good at pasta with tomato sauce.

Among other attractions are the owners themselves. The brothers family, whether they are Irish, or who the fuck knows, are two meters tall, thin, high cheekbones, and have fiery red hair – there are three of them and a little girl, also a redhead.

The family have been running their business for about 70 years (judging by the photos), and it is evident.

Bon Appétit!