Friday, May 1, 2015


Location: Karucheratan

Rating: OK
Meal:  Dinner
Price:  1500 yen
Payment:  Cash Only
Dishes:  Tuna, squid and tamago don
English Menu:No

Karucheratan means "Latin Quarter of Paris" or something strange like that.  No idea why it's named this as there isn't much Parisian to the place.  It's very Japanese.  I've passed by numerous times and said to myself "someday, I will eat there," but the time has waited til now.  I was on my way home from meeting a friend in Yokohama and I stopped in to see what the deal was.

I was somewhat surprised to experience my first near refusal for service.  They saw me and were a bit panicked, saying they didn't speak any English.  To which I replied in my limited Japanese that everything would be fine and I'd figure it out.  They relented and let me sit at the bar, in between a slightly inebriated couple finishing up and an older gentleman who had probably had several drinks already.  This place is an Izakaya (Japanese bar/pub) and it was pretty obvious.  Someone was smoking nearby.  Yuck.  Oh well, comes with the territory.

The menu was completely devoid of English as promised, and unfortunately lacking in pictures too.  I ended selecting one of the few items with a picture, a tuna sashimi bowl.  I ordered some sake too as I felt it was expected (one of the things I dislike about Izakayas).  Not being able to make heads or tails of the drink menu I asked for a daiginjo nihonshu of some kind (translation:  very good quality sake).  If I'm going to have some, it better be good...and it was.  I did not include this in the price above as normally I would not order drinks, I'm more interested in the food.

The sashimi was ok, pretty typical.  The chopped squid was fine, but it's never great.  Tamago was ok.  Nothing really amazing, though the miso tasted good.  The little "gift" appetizer they always give you when you sit down was sliced octopus topped with grated ginger.  Octopus is fairly flavorless and chewy, so I can't recommend it.

The best part of the evening was when the old guy next to me decided to try chatting.  Between our poor grasps of each other's languages we had fun.  He taught me the proper way to pick up and put down my chopsticks, eat my tuna (no soy sauce, just wasabi), and fold the paper chopstick holder into a hashioki (chipstick rest).  Apparently, I had been doing it all wrong.  I once had a friend who told me the best way to practice Japanese was go to an Izakaya with old geezers and just start talking.  The alcohol helps with everyone's shyness and it's a win-win.  That's not really my scene, but I see his point.

Overall, I can't really recommend this place above a meager "OK".  There's nothing spectacular to motivate one to overcome the difficulties.  On the other hand, if you want to a nicer upscale Izakaya to practice your Japanese at, it might be the ticket.

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