No English Here at Hashidaya Honten

A restaurant with no english menu as my sister points out is what makes it fun to eat there. Truth big sis. Also, yelp and pictures help. I find myself acting more like a kid in Japan than ever before. I’m speaking with my hands and pictures, eating with my hands, and can’t sit still.

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In Shibuya, I was told by a reliable sources that Hashidaya Honten makes great Oyakodon and Yakitori. When I visited Japan, it felt like I’m in a tropical rainforest and there was a typhoon warning. Stay inside! The kid couldn’t and I’m on borrowed time, so I trekked, sneakers squishing, and filled with water over to Hashidaya Honten.

Once I walked in I inhaled a huge whiff of cigarette (fruity) smoke, heard loud greetings, and saw Salarymen left and right. Looks like home! Japanese was spoken, I spoke with my hands and was seated at the bar. This restaurant has a L shaped bar set against a kitchen where they prepare all the food. Then the waiter comes up to me and says “No English here” which sounded and felt like I was in a Asian Forest Gump sequel where no one would talk to me, but he corrected himself and said “Menu”. Phew. I asked for beer, and that’s always universal, so all good. Then I asked for Oyakodon and Yakitori and we were off! It also helped that I had pictures to make up for my horrible pronunciation. The issue here was communication, not the lack of effort or sincerity on both sides. So far so good.

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Then the food comes! Wow, the Yakitori was cooked on the medium side and was so succulent. I ordered 2 pieces by throwing up a “Peace sign” at the waiter. These sticks came with lime, which I haven’t seen in the states. Salt, fat, and citrus.

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Then some chicken soup. My face said to him, “I didn’t order this bro, but I’ll take it”. It was weird to have this dish, I’m always expecting miso soup in my Japanese cuisine ignorance. This was subtle with a touch of salt, and a shiso leaf gave it a bright bitterness.

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For the star of the show, the Oyakodon (I’m hoping that’s what I got), it was served in a covered bowl. I opened it up and a waft of salty chicken fat, shiso, and rice hit my nose. We eat with our nose, so this was a great start. Then I see this egg in the middle. Ugh…what?! I figure this helps with the creaminess, and break the yolk and mix. I wait a bit and dig in. Again, this dish like so many local dishes has flavor, strong, and deep, but it’s not overpowering, it’s comforting. This food isn’t a take it or leave it, but familiar flavors and textures that I know. This thing is good, even great.

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