Thursday, April 2, 2015


Location: Shinen

Rating: OK
Meal:  Dinner
Price:  5000 yen
Payment:  Cash only
Dish:  Yakiniku
English Menu:  No
Smoking:  Yes (and you will smell like meat)

Shinen (伸宴) is a yakiniku restaurant that is down a small alley in an area known as "the honch" to base people.  "The Honch" comes from the area name, which is "hon-cho".  The actual famous street is called Dobuita, but most Americans just call it "the honch."  It is home to one of the seedier sides of Yokosuka, and it also happens to be pretty much where I live.  Technically I live in Odaki-cho, but it's close enough.  We get to hear the warbling of bad karaoke all through the night, especially when it's warm enough to leave the windows open.

I don't usually go for yakiniku for various reasons.  One is that for some reason we have always had trouble ordering at these restaurants.  The menus are generally devoid of "one order" options, and you have to order everything ala cart.  But they are also usually devoid of pictures, which makes deciphering the rather specialized meat katakana a challenge.  Add to that the fact that you have to cook your own meat and veggies, which usually means I am constantly working the whole time and not really enjoying the meal.  And then it seems that there are hardly any vegetable options (and while I like meat, I'd like some veg to go with it).  Oh, and it's always expensive.  So every time we've gone as a family, it has ended up a rather stressful event in which no one feels like they enjoyed themselves, and we rarely leave satisfied.  We joke that when the day arrives that we can order our own yakiniku meal, we'll have finally arrived in Japan.

So why did I go tonight?  Well a friend was visiting from the US and he's leaving tomorrow.  He and a few other guys were going out tonight and invited me along.  Usually I avoid group things, but there were tolerably low numbers of people going and I usually have the evening to myself anyway on Thursdays.  And I've been meaning to try more new restaurants, so this was a good opportunity to experience it without having all the pressure on me to make it work.

Since I didn't order, I didn't bother taking a picture of the menu.  It was all in Japanese anyway, so if that scares you, don't bother.  The place is very small, with a raised tatami area and a couple of small (4 person) tables with chairs.  Being tatami challenged when it comes to sitting, I'm glad we sat at a table.

A couple of the guys ordered various platters of meat, some rice, and some beers (Sapporo draft...pretty much the only Japanese macro beer I'll occasionally drink).  Luckily those same guys cooked, so I didn't have to deal with that.  The meat was good, but pretty typical for yakiniku that I've had...nothing spectacular.

After that I can't say I've changed my opinion of yakiniku in's still a pain (mendokusai as they say here).

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