Umami Mart Sake


One of the most memorable nights I had in Tokyo was an adventure in Nakano, a hip neighborhood in Tokyo. We met up with our friend and Umami Mart writer Will, aka The Ramen Shaman, along with Eri, who suggested a yakitori joint called Shimon-ya.

Eri, editor of Ecocolo magazine, brought along her entire staff, so we knew it would be a fun night out on the town.



As we approached the cramped street of the eatery, it took me a few minutes to realize that there were several Shimon-ya storefronts across the street from each other. One space was devoted just to the yakitori grilling! This place must be busy, I thought.



The fridge box facing the street:



We stepped into Shimon-ya and even though we were a big group, they were able to accommodate us immediately. The place was indeed busy, and we were packed in like sardines -- the room was filled with happy after-work chatter and meat smoke. We sat on boxes.



The day's specials were hanging on the walls. It was a wonderland of meat parts.


Photo by Yoko Kumano.

First things first: kanpai!


Photo by Yoko Kumano.

Yoko's umechuhai and my oolong-hi:



I had a few too many of these that night. Photo by Yoko Kumano.


From left: motsu-ni (stewed meat parts, usually tripe) and tsukemono (pickles). Photo by Yoko Kumano.

"Gatsu" kimchi:



Does this translate to "guts"? The parts were chewy and delightful, I didn't really care what it was. I ordered a second plate of this, it was so addictive.

Yakitori plates:


From left: tsukune (ground chicken), not sure, not sure, shiitake. Photo by Yoko Kumano.

The charred flavors of the grilled abura-age (deep fried tofu) here on the right was excellent:


Photo by Yoko Kumano.

Kawa (skin)!



And now, for the star of the show...


Photo by Yoko Kumano.

THE BEST LIVER I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!

The livers were barely cooked and came with a handful of negi (green onions) and sesame oil drizzled all over it.


Photo by Yoko Kumano.

Chicken liver PORN!


Photo by Yoko Kumano.

Man, I dream of this liver still. It was incredible. I think we ordered two more plates of this.

Will and me!


Photo by Yoko Kumano.

Having just moved from Los Angeles to Nakano, we were happy to see Will acclimating to his new neighborhood. And speaking some Japanese too! Go Will!

I loved the lively and casual atmosphere, it was the ultimate izakaya experience. While I enjoy all sorts of eating adventures for different occasions, I am most at home at rowdy places like Shimon-ya. The food was excellent, the servers attentive, and we were in wonderful company. The formula for success!



We got the bill, and it was only $15 per person! MAJI? Really?!?! Thanks Shimon-ya for a great kick off for the night. Up next, Hitomi Bar!

SHIMON-YA
Nakano 5-58-1
Nakano-ku, Tokyo
T: 03-5380-2188

*Top photo by Yoko Kumano. Photos taken by me unless noted.