The izakaya is a place not to be missed by the Japanese and in particular the salaryman. Presentation:
- The izakaya, Japanese bars not to be missed
- The izakaya, the place
- Drinks and dishes in an izakaya
- The different types of izakaya in Japan
- Japanese bars in the Japanese society
The izakaya, Japanese bars not to be missed
The izakaya 居酒屋 are Japanese bars not to be missed in Japan. Indeed, you will find there a wide range of Japanese gastronomy. We could compare izakaya to Spanish tapas bars and French bistros. In izakaya you have the possibility to drink alcohol like sake or Japanese beer while nibbling on Japanese food, hot or cold. Izakaya, ” i” means to stay and ” zakaya ” means sake store, originally they are sake shops where customers had the possibility to taste and sit to drink sake. They are also called akachochin (red lantern) because these lanterns are traditionally in front of these bars.
The izakaya, the place
In Japan, there are different types of Japanese bars. Some are tiny (no more than 10 people) and others are on several floors of buildings! In terms of layout, it also changes a lot. Indeed, you can be on a tatami and eat on traditional Japanese low tables or on high chairs at the counter of a bar. The general idea remains the conviviality. In most of these bars, a small wet oshibori towel will be served to you upon your arrival to clean your hands. All you have to do is to order a drink and some tsukemono (small Japanese dishes) that you will order and share with the people at your table.
Drinks and food in an izakaya
The izakaya offer a wide variety of dishes and drinks, alcoholic or not. Some izakaya offer a very popular formula, where alcohol is served as much as you want! Here is a list of the most recurrent drinks and dishes: Alcoholic drinks in an izakaya :
Japanese food in an izakaya :
Japanese bars in Japanese society
Generally in izakaya, you will start quietly with an appetizer, then pick up some light food and at the end of the evening, you will finish with more substantial dishes like noodle soup for example. In the Japanese society, izakaya are very frequented in the evening by friends or work colleagues. The atmosphere is very relaxed and friendly. Salaried people are very fond of these bars, they meet there to discuss about the latest fashion, leisure, or work projects. This phenomenon is called nomikai (meeting to drink).
To toast in Japan, we say ” kanpai” 乾杯 which means health in Japanese. At the end of the night, you will see some dead drunk salarymen in Japanese bars. Many of them will not go home. It is partly for this reason that capsule hotels were created. Indeed, a drunken party can end until the early morning!
The different types of izakaya in Japan
There are about 20,000 izakaya in Japan. At the beginning, the clientele was male but more and more women and students frequent these izakaya. Today the clientele is more diversified.
1 Chain izakaya : less expensive, but larger, you will enjoy a wide choice of food and drink.
2 Yakitori-ya: These restaurants are specialized in yakitoriskewers.
3 Onden-ya : Street stalls that you will often find in winter. They are recognizable by their long plastic tarps. The best of them are easy to recognize, there is always a line in front of them!
4 Robatayaki : You sit around the chef who grills seafood and vegetables in front of you on a large hot plate. It is a very pleasant experience.