Update May 10, 2012: This location has since closed.
Shimokitazawa is hands down my favorite part of Tokyo. It's teeming with youth and the elderly, shopping for knick knacks in a part of Tokyo that has no high-rise buildings -- preserving a quaintness that is absent in the major hubs of the city like Shibuya or Shinjuku.
Usaya, located in Shimokitazawa, is a small country-style izakaya that serves dishes compiled with organic ingredients in fabulous Japanese dishware purchased from fleamarkets. It opened two years ago under Shimokitazawa station.
My husband and I decided to throw our wedding after-party celebration at Usaya. We asked the owner beforehand if he could serve a large crowd of 17 people at ¥5,000 a head (with unlimited drinks). The result was a bunch of dishes that were perfect for a mid-December Saturday.
Soumen and Mozuku:
Dried fish jerky:
Persimmon, figs, blueberries, yogurt, spinach salad:
The food at Usaya is quite impressive because no matter how much you eat, you never feel sick at the end of the night. It's not overly salty or oily. The attention to ingredients is also noticeable in all their menu items, as they serve dishes that bring out the texture and color of each food.
But what really makes Usaya stand out is the service. The staff are naturally helpful and friendly, something so rare in the white-gloved, robotic world of service in Tokyo.