Izakaya is a bar, bistro in Japanese style. In Japan, men and women, young and old, even children at times go to Izakaya. Salary men (Japanese white collar workers) gather after their long hours to socialise each other, talking things that they cannot talk in the office.
Here are top 5 menus at Izakayas.
Edamame is a baby soy bean, boiled in the hot water. People order Edamame first while thinking what they should order. “Toriaezu Edamame” meaning “Well, let's have Edamame first ” is the first word after saying “Toriaezu bi-ru” or “Well, let's have beer first” to stard drinking.
Sashimi is raw fish. The level of Izakaya is well determined by the quality of Sashimi that they offer. Though all may look alike, but the difference of quality is evident, and because this is the most expensive, and special for Japanese, people are very much concerned about the freshness, and the beauty of the dish.
Yakitori or Grilled Chiken is the most popular among many side dishes at Izakaya. There are even Izakayas specialized only for Yakitori. They are called “Yakitori-ya”, a synonym of Iazakaya. After being charcoal broiled, they are either dipped in a special sauce or sprinkeled with a little bit of salt. The competition is so keen that each Yakitori-ya claims the quality of chicken ant the taste of sauce. When people lose a gambling, they say “I'm Yakitoried” or a “became a good bait by the others”.
Kara-age is a general word for deep-fried foods, but mostly used to mean a fried chicken. Chicken meat is seasoned and coated with batter before deep fried. A thing alike is Tempura, also coated with batter and deep-fried, but not seasoned, and instead eaten after being dipped in a special sauce. Also a childrens favorite.
Gyoza is a Japanese dumpling. Originaly it is a Chinese dish, but was transfered to Japan by the people who retreated back from China after the war. As many other dishes of forein origin, Gyoza was also elaborated in a Japanese style and has obtained a Japanese citizenship, or even behaves as a king among many other dishes of menu of Izakaya. Be careful if you have a business meeting or a date the following day, because it contains garlic.
If you are interested to taste some or all of the above in a friendly atmosphere of Izakaya and to get mixed with locals, please refer to my tour, Walking night tour in the heart of Tokyo .