There were two other people sitting at the bar with us. Both were salarymen in ruffled suits, each with a briefcase propped up behind them against the wall. They were chatting with the owners and exchanging what sounded like jokes in Japanese. There was an ease to their exchange that reminded me of neighborhood bars I used to frequent after work. Clearly, they were regulars at this izakaya in Susukino, unwinding with draft beers and a few skewers of yakitori before calling it a day.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, an izakaya is a type of gastropub in Japan. It’s the Japanese equivalent of an American bar (like Cheers) or an Irish pub. They’re informal and unpretentious establishments where office workers would go to loosen their ties and get a quick drink after work. Bar food figures prominently on an izakaya’s menu, so you’ll often find regulars snacking on alcohol-friendly dishes like edamame, karaage, and yakitori.
We were in the market for some good…