What is an Izakaya? >>Find IzakayasIzakaya are restaurants that serve mostly Japanese food and various kinds of alcohol (everything from beer to sake and shouchuu). The main difference between izakaya and conventional restaurants is the variety of alcohol available at an izakaya, while the izakaya distinguishes itself from typical bars by the comparatively larger volume of foods it serves. You could say that izakaya resemble American “Bar-and-Grill”-style establishments. One of the best things about izakaya is that no matter how many times one visits one, there is always something else on the menu to enjoy so it's hard to get tired of the selection.
The「居」( i ) from ‘izakaya' is the same ‘i' from「居心地」(igokochi), meaning ‘place of comfort.' In the past, an izakaya was simply a place where an individual would go by himself to enjoy food and a comfortable atmosphere. Picture this:
At the counter of a small shop (not chain izakaya and large izakaya), you order sake and food while chatting with the store's owner, separating yourself from the everyday burdens and obligations of your company, friends, and family; alone, you can let the rest of the world fade out for a time and simply relax.
Nowadays, chain izakaya are expanding, and it is common to find seating arrangements designed for organizations and events. Some izakaya even have separate rooms that can be rented for parties. This versatility truly is the hallmark of the modern izakaya, which are great places to go to relax, no matter the occasion. You will often see companies throw all sorts of parties at and izakaya: welcome or farewell party, year-ending party and New Years parties are all very common.
At an izakaya, you have numerous options to choose from in all aspects of your dining experience. Firstly, you need to choose what kind of room you want: whether it is room with a tatami mat, a regular table and chair, or the bars counter. Once you have decided your location, you need to know how hungry you are. Most izakaya's offer full dining services so you can eat a dinner there, but many people just order several side dishes for the table to enjoy while they drink. Oftentimes, you can make your meal all-you-can-drink for a cheap price of around 1,500 yen. At some of the cheaper izakaya's, you will see many college students on a night out probably playing drinking games. But the thing to remember at an izakaya is simply to enjoy yourself and relax.
As a side note, a lot of izakaya serve inexpensive set-lunches during the day, so they're good to visit in the daytime too.
I know that there are plenty of drinks, but what can I eat at an izakaya?All kinds of fish dishes: everything from grilled hokke (also known as the Arabesque greenling) to fresh sashimi.
Yakitori (a grilled chicken kabob served in various sauces. There are also a variety of types of yakitori that differ depending on the part of the chicken used in the kabob)
Oden (a common Japanese winter dish, consisting of several different kinds of ingredients in a clear broth. Ingredients range from boiled eggs and fish cakes to tofu and daikon radishes)
Agedashi Tofu (cubes of tofu coated in cornstarch and deep-fried, served hot)
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