Abura Bozu x Ryoshimura


Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on December 2009

Photo by Sarah Noorbakhsh

Photo by Sarah Noorbakhsh

Abura Bozu × Ryoshimura is located a quick run from the west exit of Kamata station—and run we did, as the weather was cold and rainy on the night we visited. The neighborhood is your typical Japanese urban setting (Don Quijote, pachinko shops, etc.), from which the restaurant proved to be the perfect respite. Fishing nets hang from the ceiling, photos of proud anglers with their catches line the walls, and a large tank is filled with fresh shellfish waiting to be devoured. All this put us in mind of a cozy maritime haven.

After a bit of confusion over the course-menu options (it turns out that set dinners should be reserved in advance), the staff let us order the seven-course, all-you-can-drink plan (¥4,000). Perhaps the five-course menu (¥2,980, available on weekends only) would’ve been a wiser bet—this was a definite case of “eyes being bigger than bellies.” Gluttonous diners may even want to try the nine-course menu (¥6,000), but they’d need to be hoisted from the premises in maguro nets.

Our seats at the counter (the hori-kotatsu seating had been booked by a boisterous work function) allowed us to soak in all the lively charm of the place while keeping an eye on the sushi master at work. If loud Japanese drinking antics aren’t your cup of tea, the counter is a good bet. It’s far enough away from the din to allow for conversation, while letting you feel like you’re in on the action. (At one point, the organizer of the party came over to us and apologized for the “noise” before engaging in some broken English banter.)

Abura Bozu × Ryoshimura is a collaboration between seafood restaurants in Saga Prefecture and Kanto. As you might expect, the ingredients—sourced from ports around Japan known for their local specialties—are impeccably fresh. This was some of the best fish we have ever tried—and one of us is from New Orleans.

Photo by Sarah Noorbakhsh

Photo by Sarah Noorbakhsh

Highlights of our course included sea bream carpaccio with herb vinaigrette and mayonnaise, an amazing mixture of pure, tender fish and tangy dressing. The tuna neck—a fisherman’s favorite, we were told—was served with a spoon, the perfect utensil for the flaky, delicate meat topped with a sauce of ponzu and daikon, which we poured over and scooped out like ice cream.

The last two courses consisted of a spicy Korean-style hotpot with fish, tofu, pork and vegetables—the marbled rock fish was fantastically buttery and delicious. Then the meal culminated with our waitress dumping in some cooked rice and egg to produce a spicy, intensely flavorful nabe.

The drinks were constantly flowing throughout, with beer, shochu, plum wine and cocktails all available on the nomihodai menu. The staff was friendly and helpful, even struggling gamely to explain our dishes in English and offering translations of items they lacked the vocabulary for.

For high quality seafood at reasonable prices and a fun and convivial atmosphere, Abura Bozu × Ryoshimura is the perfect bastion for all you winter-weary seafarers out there.