Laudig in Japan: Izakaya Feast at Yamadaya

I've been going to Japan every year for quite a while now, but I never get tired of a plate of sashimi this gorgeous. This was just the first of many courses at the fabulous Yamadaya, an izakaya near the famous Tsukiji fish market that chef Nobuo Fukuda had recommended to me last year. They were closed for some remodeling at the time, so this go-round, they were at the top of my list. Our server recommended eating the sashimi with a dab of wasabi and sea salt instead of soy sauce.

My old friends Yuko and Chinatsu were my enthusiastic dining companions. I've been going out to eat with these girls since college, and I owe a lot of my Japanese food geek knowledge to experiences we've shared. 

The place was packed. We sat at the counter and proceeded to order course after course. A couple hours later, we'd eaten practically everything on the menu.

​This, by the way, was the menu -- what a pain to read! But I'm getting better at deciphering this kind of thing, after much practice. 

​The amuse bouche was a juicy chicken meatball in light broth.

​Sweet, tender salmon roe glistened on thin layers of potato.

​Oysters are in season and I got these two all to myself!

​If you've never had Japanese fried chicken (kara age), you have to try it. It's so crispy and bursting with juice that a whole plate disappears in minutes.

​I must have a separate stomach for sashimi because we ordered even more. This time, it was fresh saba, with beautiful gleaming skin.

​Next, more chicken -- a variety of parts done yakitori-style, eaten with a dab of salt and a squeeze of lemon. Amazing how many flavors and textures come from one bird.

​There were a couple more courses we destroyed before I remembered to take a picture. At this point, we'd had three different kinds of sake. I remember one was called Kaze no Mori, and another was the daiginjo version of Kaze no Mori. The final dish was a helping of seafood-studded rice, presented in the pan like paella before portions were dished up. It definitely helped soak up the sake.

Hungry yet? I'll post some more pictures tomorrow . . .

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