Japanese dinner at Shinsuke, one of Tokyo’s best izakayas
That is what our Lonely Planet says, is the food at Shinsuke really that good?
We are in Tokyo for a couple of days.
Our Lonely Planet guide has already brought us to quite a few amazing food places here in Tokyo.
We are staying at the Royal Park Hotel in the Shiodome area. The amount of restaurants and eateries nearby is dazzling.
However tonight we decide to look for a specific place, never mind if we have to use public transport to go to it.
Our guide lists a few of the best izakaya in Tokyo.
Shinsuke is of one them.
What is an izakaya?
It is a typical Japanese bar where people typically go after work for drinks and small snacks. The word izakaya literally means a place where you stay and relax to have a couple of drinks.
In a Japan izakaya that is traditionally beer, sake or whiskey.
So after looking them all up on Tripadvisor we decide to go to Shinsuke.
Shinsuke is not quite in walking distance from our hotel but the subway ride to get there is a breeze. This is Japan remember.
We are above ground again and rely on the map on our phone to walk in the right direction.
We are in the old shitamachi district of UenoStreet. Names and signs are all in Japanese, let’s hope that we are going straight to where we want to go!
You have reached your destination, our map would say if it could talk.
We are standing on a corner of the street but are we really in the right place?
This doesn’t really look like a restaurant to us.
More like someone’s front door. And right then someone walks out and we see that there is indeed a restaurant behind that door!
We walk in.
Shinsuke is a very small restaurant.
There is a long wooden bar with stools on the left. And just a handful of tables on the right. We are greeted by the 2 people behind the bar, a man and lady dressed in traditional Japanese attire.
They both point toward 2 free spots at the bar, their smile is incredible.
We sit down and the lady places a tiny paper menu in front of us. Japanese signs followed by one English word such as fish or chicken. She explains with just a couple of extra English words what exactly every dish contains.
And we are excited.
All the dishes sound amazing.
Bring it on, Shinsuke.
Beer and sake
We order Sapporo beer and cold sake.
Orders in, we look around and see lovely looking little plates everywhere.
The man behind the counter makes every order on the spot. The plates are small bites, and we like that. We love to watch him cook and prepare his creations during our meal.
First bite on our table here at Shinsuke…
Homemade crispy dried small fish, called tatami iwashi we believe.
This is a popular beer snack! The crisps are extremely thin, and delicate. The crunch when you bite into them! They taste slightly fishy but not overpowering.
What a lovely little appetizer!
We could definitely snack on these crisps all day long.
Another tiny appetizer: dried fish!
Salty, chewy and fishy.
Another delicious beer snack.
And it comes with a wet towel to clean your hands after eating them.
Deep fried fig
We already saw our neighbour sitting next to us dig into a plate like this.
And we wondered what it was. Turns out that it is a tempura fig, served cold in a dashi type of broth! And it is again a stunning creation.
The sweetness of the fresh fig and then the salty notes of the broth.
Here comes another little artwork on a plate.
Sliced raw mackerel on a bed of grated daikon, shiso leaf and some grated ginger on the side. The fish is super fresh and nicely oily.
The garnishes are a flavor explosion.
Even the red flowers add a tasty fresh touch!
The liver is stewed to perfection.
Smooth and creamy in texture. It tastes almost sweet, no trace of that characteristic metallic liver flavor. Luc is not a liver fan but loves this delicate version a lot.
Underneath the liver is a stewed vegetable and we think it might be eggplant.
Another gorgeous portion of fish.
Salmon it is this time. And we think that it is cured or marinated and grilled.
Again a very delicate and deeply flavored fish. With it comes freshly grated daikon, chopped chives and crunchy deep fried fish skin.
Another treat, we are stunned by the balance of flavors.
The broth in this next little bowl tastes like a type of cooking wine or rice wine with soy sauce.
Another perfect flavor base for the soft and smooth boiled chicken wings on top.
The meat is delicate, juicy and fall off the bone tender.
Are we stuffed by now?
Not yet, almost. We decide to order another little plate of heaven here at Shinsuke.
And we choose a lovely slice of miso glazed blackened cod. Stunning again, the fish is meaty and so flakey. It is also a tad sweet, we think that there is some sugar in the glaze as well.
Another amazing piece of perfectly cooked and seasoned fish.
Our beers and sake are going down well with all these dishes.
The complex flavors are a great match for the subtle sake and the perfect way to cleanse your palate between servings.
Shinsuke is always full.
Whenever there is an empty table, a couple of minutes later someone walks in for a snack and a drink. Practically all other customers sit down, order food and a drink, eat, pay and leave in less than an hour.
It is also pretty quiet actually as most people come to eat alone.
The Japanese music in the background really sets the scene for an unforgettable izakaya dinner.
Would we recommend Shinsuke?
In the end we pay a little less than €60, which is incredibly low for a superb Japanese dinner like this.
The man and lady behind the bar are attentive, fast and super friendly. Top notch fresh ingredients, what a feast.
Izakaya Shinsuke is highly recommendable.