After lunch at Kazuchan in Okonomimura we walked back to our hotel, the Granvia in Hiroshima Station. We took our time meandering through various streets and shopping arcades.
Fairly close to Hiroshima Station I noticed a photo menu....which looked quite interesting.....it had dishes both the Missus and I love. We headed down the alleyway. The place was closed, but we managed to speak, well that's not true either as the really nice young man spoke no English. Somehow, we got to understand that the place opened during the evening and yes, they served what we saw on the menu.
We took our much needed afternoon nap. When we awoke it was dusk. Time to find our little alleyway restaurant. The Missus had Her doubts, but I have a decent sense of direction and we found the place.
We found the place and headed down the alleyway. We entered the restaurant, but through sign language and my really bad Japanese came to find out that the place was booked solid. The woman then lead us the 2 yards across the alleyway and found the one young man who actually spoke a bit of English....about as much English as I spoke Japanese. Anyway, we could eat here, same menu, same drinks.
It was also mentioned that there were "appetizers" served with an automatic charge of 500 yen.....ah yes, tsukidashi...so this was an honest to goodness izakaya.
They seemed very concerned and wanted to make sure that we knew how the drill goes. It was of course, no problem. I actually think of it as a charge in lieu of a tip...since tipping is not done in Japan.
We were both quite happy to find a place like this....it was homey and comfortable, the staff was very nice.....the head bartender spoke a few words of English, not much, but enough. And of course there was a liquid refreshment. I went with a Miyajima Draft.....the Missus wanted something sort of local, so She had some sake from Saijo, which was really nice....clean, slightly sweet, easy to drink.
And then the fun really began. The Missus could make out some items since She could read Kanji. And I spoke really, really bad Japanese....except for some food.
Some of this was easy.....but some of it was plain hilarious...the bartender seemed to have fun....the Missus would point to something and he'd point to a part of his body, or the Missus would say, I think this is tendon and I'd say "suji"? And we'd get a grin and a nod and end up with a really tasty dish like this.
It was the photo of this dish that got us to come in. Classically flavored, sweet-soy, tender beef tendon and meat.......who could ask for more.
This was the spiciest thing I had in Japan, pickled chilies that brought some nice heat.
The Missus pointed to an item and said, I think these are onions....so I asked "Rakyo"? Which they were....
The Missus pointed to an item and the guy pointed to his abdomen......I asked "horumon?"
Nicely grilled intestine, chewy, well flavored....good stuff.....
Meanwhile, the Missus had another sake and was just beginning to hit Her stride it seems.....
Because when She pointed to the next item on the wall, the young man grabbed his ear! The Missus and I looked at each other and instantly knew we had to have this.
Now, I've had my share of pig ear, and while this isn't the most photogenic, I have to say it's among the best I've had. The pig ear had been simmered to where the external tissue was soft and sticky, it literally melted away on your tongue. The internal base piece was still slightly crunchy making for a fantastic textural contrast. The seasoning was plain, just a dip in salt and pepper, but it just perfect....especially with alcoholic beverages.
By now, the little ten seat bar was full....they actually had 6 reserved seats. So the anatomic charades were up. We had the bartender order something for us.
Which turned out to be a typical yakiniku, bulgogi like beef dish.
I was glad we arrived early. We would have not been comfortable taking up the bartender's time once things got busy.
It seemed like everyone at the bar was ordering the chicken wings; so I had to try the "teba".
A bit over battered and under seasoned and definitely not as good as the ears and guts......
The Missus and I had a blast here...it's our kind of place. I only wish I knew the name and address.
Update: Our FOY and fellow Food Blogger Kat did some sleuthing for us and seems to have found the place:
After dinner the Missus and I decided to take the tram to....well, wherever. We got off at random spot to have a bit of a post-dinner walk.
Things were lite up brightly as we walked through the various shopping street we passed earlier in the day.
Along the way we found a Don Quijote. I enjoyed walking around and looking at prices. The Missus had to use the restroom which was in the basement.
This area was were all the arcade games were......while the Missus "did Her thing", I took a walk around and looked at some of the "games". I thought the claw crane games the oddest....one had plastic food as the prize, another instant noodles. It just seemed so odd to me.....
We left Miyajima before the hoards of tourists arrived and took the tram to Hiroshima Station. We were staying at the Hotel Granvia in the station. We dropped off our bags and got back on the tram for the Peace Memorial Park.
It is a sober reminder of the destructive potential of mankind.....
As we wandered the grounds of the park, we could hear the sounds of children singing. This lead us to the Children's Peace Monument, which commemorates the young victims of the bomb. Growing up in Hawaii, I had heard the story of Sadaki Sasaki and the story of "A Thousand Cranes" many times. Her life, death, and story was the impetus for the creation of this monument.
We watched as various "classes" came up to pay their respects and drop off their folded cranes; accompanied by a speach and a song.
It was quite touching......
We can debate justification and all that stuff all day and all night long......but the collateral damage was without a doubt horrible.
There's quite a lot to be seen here. You could easily spend the whole day in the park. The chest in the Centograph stores the name of every known victim of the bomb. As each Hibakusha passes on, their name is added to the list. On the opposite side of the pond resides the Flame of Peace which was lite from the eternal flame in the Reikado on Mt Misen.
We decided to walk our way back to Hiroshima Station, winding our way through shopping arcades, stopping to browse and window shop along the way.
In the back and across the street from Parco Shopping Center is a four story structure which holds Okonomi-mura, basically "okonomiyaki village". There are no less than 27 okonomiyaki stands in this building. I was told that each vendor has a different riff on Hiroshima okonomiyaki and all the stands use a special sauce made especially for businesses in the "village".
The big questions was....which one to choose? While a handful of stands were fairly busy, most were empty at this time of the day. We started on the top floor and startedworking our way down.....
Eahc one seemed to have a theme as well..... I liked the "classic rock and roll" theme of the stand called Kazu-chan, after the owner who is a big rock and roll fan. I loved the photo of the Ventures on the wall and all the old Japanese rock and roll album covers.
And so the lunch process began.... I ordered the pork and shrimp; the Missus natto.....
Hiroshima style okomiyaki is notes for the use of noodles...... it's quite a pile of food.
It did kind of bother me that parts of my okonomiyaki were pre-made...some of the crepe like portions were already prepped. The Missus's natto version was made form scratch though.
Nice of moist and fresh shrimp though and the base protion was made fresh.....
I thought the Missus natto version was much better, but both were surprisingly lighter than versions I've had in the states which weem much more doughy. They do like their scallions on these....and all those noodles, man, what a carb bomb. We would later have Osaka style okonomiyaki which were just plain amazing....perhaps we should have worked a bit harder to find a place....but hey, who can refuse four stories of okonomiyaki? You gotta try it....at least once.