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Izakaya: The Japanese Pub Cookbook Hardcover – May 1, 2008
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"...delightful. Robinsons book is more a paean to the vibrant and complicated izakaya culture than a definitive cooking guide, but the recipes, more than 60 of them, are the sort you wish more neighborhood restaurant chefs in New York would read." --The New York Times Book Review
IZAKAYA: THE JAPANESE PUB COOKBOOK celebrates unlikely foodie haunts and their cuisine, combining shochu-soaked anecdotes and pen portraits of izakaya chefs with recipes for their tasty snacks and appetizers.
Top Customer Reviews
There should be a hundred more cookbooks like "Izakaya: The Japanese Pub Cookbook". This is the real stuff, what Japanese cooking really is, not intricately rolled sushi or fancy designs on square plates. Delicious, cheap food served up fresh and fast, with a menu changing by the hour depending on what ingredients are available, often hand written by the master and pasted on the walls.
Mark Robinson shares my love for izakayas, and has put together a brilliant cookbook and guide based on some fabulous establishments. Along with the recipes, there are short essays on izakaya culture, their history and what they mean to the Japanese people. It is a splendid ritual, the ordering of drinks and paired food, the requesting of today's specialties, the casual atmosphere of an ongoing party where anyone can feel free to jump into conversation with anyone else.
I cooked at an izakaya in Osaka, whereas Robinson calls Tokyo his stomping grounds, so a lot of these recipes are unfamiliar to me, but they are all 100% authentic and delicious. There are some standard menu items, like the grilled whole surume squid and sweet miso-marinated fish, and some more exotic items like fried whole garlic with miso and "motsu" beef intestine stew. All the recipes are accompanied by beautiful photographs that will keep you reaching for this cookbook over and over again.
Because of its authenticity, these recipes are not going to be easy to someone without access to a good Japanese grocer. The "Asian" section at your local supermarket probably isn't going to cut it, especially with the seafood and produce required. It is worth the effort to track down the ingredients rather than substituting, because that is where the real flavor comes in, but I have had to cut a few corners here and there.
Anyone who is interested in authentic Japanese cooking and doesn't have a copy of "Izakaya: The Japanese Pub Cookbook" in their library isn't cooking the whole spectrum. Aside from a plane ticket to Japan, this is as real as it gets.
The dust jacket front flap says that Izakaya is the first publication in English to delve into every aspect of the izakaya, a unique and vital cornerstone of Japanese food culture. However, after reading the book, a second book would have difficulty providing insight additional to Robinson's- he paints such a vivid picture that the only way to better get an idea of what the izakaya experience is like is probably to go to one. From the physical description of the pub, to the demeanor of the chefs, and even the kind of company one can expect in each izakaya, Robinson captures all the details. Robinson chose the eight izakayas featured for their quality, ambience, and variety, and the unique charms of each izakaya shines through in the text.
The recipes are for the most part no-fuss recipes (no need to train for decades) with few ingredients, but the emphasis is on quality and creativity. The range from the familiar (sweet corn kakiage tempura, soy-flavored spare ribs, simmered kamo eggplant with pork loin, sliced duck breast with ponzu sauce, fried udon, summer scallop salad) to more exotic offerings (scrambled eggs with sea urchin, "motsu" beef intestine stew, shark fin aspic). There is inspiration to be found here not only for those who wish to travel in Japan or set up a pub of their own, but also for those who are adventurous enough to try a different kind of entertaining at home. The shots of the food (taken by one of my favorites, Masashi Kuma) and the izakayas are warm and inviting, and represent the izakaya culture remarkably.
The book delivers on its promise to provide a peek into this Japanese dining experience, but anyone interested in Japanese cuisine or culture in general would enjoy reading Izakaya.
The only problem I've noticed while testing the recipes is the U.S. measurements are somewhat off. For example, when I made the corn kakiage, the recipe stated 1 cup of flour. The kakiage was good, but kind of doughy. I read the recipe again and saw it said 1 cup (4 oz) <-- which should be half a cup. Next time I'll try the recipe at 1/2 cup of flour instead.
I also read another recipe where it referenced 1 cup of liquid at 240ml and 1 cup liquid at 180ml.
Other than that, the book is great and the corn kakiage, although doughy, was still DELICIOUS! :)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
and i will make the recipes...love japanese food and culture!