Saturday, November 03, 2007

Izakayas, part II

The other day I linked to a story about Japan's "small-plate pubs," or izakayas. Here's a little more info about this type of restaurant.

Izakaya-style eating essentially means ordering nothing but appetizers: Each dish has only a small amount of food and is shared by everyone at the table. Of course, if you really like a certain dish, you simply order more than one.

The best thing about the izakaya approach to dining is that it lets you sample a lot of different foods in one meal instead of committing yourself to a single entrée (and casting envious glances at the plates of fellow diners who made a better choice than you did).

In Japan, people tend to stay longer at an izakaya than they would at an ordinary restaurant. The idea is to order food in waves, starting out light appetizers, working up to a few substantial tummy-filling dishes, and then switching to lighter fare to nibble as the party works on its second (or third or fourth) round of drinks.

On the other hand, the strength of an izakaya is also its downside. Because people stay longer, when an izakaya fills up it tends to stay full for a long time.

As Master Po would say to Grasshopper, every good idea has its disadvantage.

The interior of Wann, an izakaya in Seattle.

—Mellow Monk

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