Translated by Yuko Perry
Japanese Culture from Popular and Reasonable, Izakaya Chain Store 'Torikizoku(鳥貴族）'
Written by OnoYasuhiro
Izakaya, its history starts during the Edo era. Sakaya (off-licence) served alcohol drinks and side dishes while the customers lounged there. That is, Izakaya = Iru (lounge) + off-licence (pub).
Since then, though it has changed its form little by little, the Izakaya has been an essential part of Japanese lives.
Now, there are various type of Izakaya from small independent pubs to big chain pubs and I would like to show you one of the chain pubs which is hugely popular to young people. It is called Torikizoku.
Low Price and High Quality Service Attract Young People and Women
Torikizoku's branches are often in the upper floors of buildings or in the basement. The distinctive name board helps customers to find them.
They mainly have tables for 4-6 people each and some seats at the bar.
Round logs and natural wood materials make a bright and warm design, which makes young people and women feel at home.
You can call the staff by ringing the bell.
Once you decide what to order from the menu on the table, press the button and wait for the staff to come to you.
As each item on the menu has a picture, you can just point with a finger at it to order.
"Let's start with basic menu"
Premium Molt's (280 yen)
Photo By: (c)Tomo.Yun
Regular snack, Edamame (280 yen)
They have variety of snacks.
My favourite combo is a glass of draft beer and Edamame.
That is very common combo order. You can also go for salad or pickled aubergine/cucumber.
If beer is not your type of drink, you can also try sake or whiskey.
Reason to recommend 1: No amuse bouche
Japanese pubs usually serve simple snack as amuse bouche, called 'Otoshi' and a small fee is charged for them.
Torikizoku does not have this custom and doesn't charge a fee for the occupied seats.
This simpleness is also the reason why they are so popular.
Reason to recommend 2: You can eat as much cabbage as you like
Home-grown cabbage with light & tasty dressing (280 yen)
Once you order this cabbage dish for 280 yen, you can eat as much as you want.
Pass the empty plate to the staff at the next order and you can ask another portion of cabbage again and again.
Reason to recommend 3: Every item is 280 yen!
The strongest point of Torikizoku is that every item including alcohol and dishes are all for only 280 yen.
Caesar salad with half-boiled egg, cold tomatoes, jangja, cost 280 yen each.
Torikizoku's signature menu, selection of grilled home-grown chicken is also 280 yen for each dish (2 sticks).
It is good to see that they are particular about home-grown ingredients.
A favourite amongst ladies is Camembert cheese croquette is of course 280 yen. The combination of the cheese and beautiful texture of mashed potatoes are almost addictive.
It's best to finish the feast with this, rice with ume-flavored green tea, using special 'dashi' soup. Needless to say, it is 280 yen.
I cannot list all items up here. They also have a western menu such as highballs, wine, sours, potato meals and Japanese items including sake, shochu spirit, udon, ramen and all are served for the surprisingly cheap price, 280 yen each.
It is fun to look for the most valuable item for the price.
Now you fully know how excellent Torikizoku is on a cost/performance basis as you can have any item for 280 yen and try Japanese food on a low budget.
Do you fancy going to Torikizoku to learn more about Japanese Izakaya culture and the everyday life of young Japanese people?
※Torikizoku has approx 360 branches around Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya (as at the end of July 2014).
Torikizoku Ryogoku branch
Address: 7F 3-26-5 Ryogoku, Sumida-ku, Tokyo
Opening Hours:18:00-04:00 (LO 03:00)
Fixed Holiday: 31st Dec, 1st Jan
Accepted Credit Cards: VISA, Master Card, UC, Diners Club, AMEX, JCB
Language: Japanese Only
Nearest Station: JR Ryogoku station, Toei Oedo line Ryogoku station
How to get there: 1 minute walk to the east from the east exit of JR Ryogoku station (Sobu line)
3 minute walk to the south-west from the A4 exit of Toei Oedo line Ryogoku station
Budget range:2000-3000 yen