- Slow-grilled Yakitori over a charcoal fire
- A Variety of Colourful Vegetables served raw
- A Sake Selection for Sake Lovers
Slow-grilled Yakitori over a charcoal fire
Located in Arakicho, the secret gourmet neighbourhood of Shinjuku, Doromamire (どろまみれ) is the main branch of a small chain of izakayas that share the same concept of providing dishes using the freshest ingredients. In fact, the second branch, confusingly called Kitchen Doromamire, is located on the ground floor under the main branch which is accessed by an outside spiral staircase. Be careful not to get them mixed up, but if you do walk into the wrong one, like we did, the staff will happily redirect you.
We had a reservation for Saturday night and approached the restaurant from Akebonobashi Station on the Shinjuku line. I was glad I had called earlier to reserve, since the place was packed – I would have prefered to go on Sunday but that’s the one day of the week they are closed. An important thing to know is that, although the downstairs branch allows smoking, the main one, featured in this article is mostly non-smoking. Smoking was allowed at one table, but it was separated from the rest of the room by a divider, and so the smell of smoke wasn’t noticeable.
We started our meal with Doromamire’s main offering: a selection of yakitori, or grilled skewers with chicken meat (やきとり 焼き鳥), slow-grilled over hot charcoal by the restaurant staff behind the square counter occupying one corner of the floor. It was no surprise that my favourite was their speciality: the “shio tsukune” (塩つくね) using ground chicken meat seasoned with a little salt. The chicken meat is from the famous Akita prefecture Hinai-jidori chicken (秋田比内地鶏). “Jidori” means that the chickens are raised locally and are subject to a special pedigree and breeding requirements. Akita is located in Northeastern Japan and is famous for the Akita dog breed.
The chicken meat is shipped directly to the restaurant without any intermediaries, and is thus guaranteed to be fresh. If you are in an adventurous mood, try another of their specialities, the “sashimi” (刺身) yakitori which, as you may have guessed, is made from raw chicken meat. We also had “tamago kake gohan” (卵かけごはん) which translates as “egg over rice” and use a raw egg. On the surface it sounds unremarkable, but using Doromamire’s extremely fresh eggs, it tasted anything but. A word of caution though: if you are tempted to replicate this simple but tasty dish at home, you must use eggs sold especially for this purpose (not usually available outside of Japan).
A Variety of Colourful Vegetables served raw
Next we decided to order some vegetables dishes in order to have a balanced meal. All of their produce is shipped directly from their own farm located in Saitama prefecture right next to Tokyo. Their farming is conducted all year-round, so they usually have around 20 different kinds on their menu in every season. Even the counter area is decorated with various kinds of vegetables, giving the place a farmer’s market atmosphere.
We ordered another one of their specialities: the assortment of 15 kinds of vegetables (jugo shurui no yasai mori １５種類の野菜盛り) the dish with 15 kinds of raw vegetables. Although they have an English menu, this item isn’t included unfortunately – you can spot it on the handwritten Japanese menu by locating the 15 written in numeral. In fact most of the vegetables-based dishes are on the Japanese menu only, simply because they constantly update it, depending on what is in season. You can ask for suggestions by pointing at it and asking “osusume wa nan desuka?”
When it arrived at our table we were astounded by its size, arrangement and beautiful array of colours. It included romaine lettuce, romanesco broccoli, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, pumpkin, cucumber, daikon, and 8 more which I couldn’t identify or omitted to record. It’s important to note that the offer of vegetables varies according to whatever is in season. You can season the vegetables yourself with salt or miso paste.
A Sake Selection for Sake Lovers
While waiting for our dishes, we enjoyed sampling various kinds of Japanese sake from their drink menu. It’s all written in Japanese, including the prices, so again you’ll need to ask for recommendations. Each sake is labeled with its place of origin, so if you are at a loss, use the prefecture to decide what to order. Prices ranged from 780 yen to 980 yen for one “go” (ichigo 一合) which is 180ml which serves about two and a half cups.
They had a whopping 20 different kinds of sake, evenly split between Western and Eastern Japan. They are all served cold, except the last two which are served warm (kanzake 燗酒) We started with a “hiyaoroshi” (ひやおろし) sake from Tochigi prefecture, a highly recommended special sake only available in the autumn. It was followed by a “daiginjou junmai” from Kuheiji, a famous sake brewery in Aichi prefecture – their sake is even served in high-end restaurants in France. We finished with a dry junmai sake from Hiroshima prefecture. All three lived up to my expectations!
If you are looking for something to nibble with the sake, try the Cheese pickled in miso (cheezu miso tsuke チーズ味噌漬け). Of course, Doromamire serves other kinds of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. In addition to two kinds of draft beer, they have a wide shochu selection that includes 9 potato-based ones. After all that drinking, you may feel the need to go the bathroom – but where is it? The door is ingeniously hidden in the wall decoration consisting of shelves lined with sake and shochu bottles! If you look closely, you’ll notice the silver coloured handle in the center of the shelf.
One final word about the name of the restaurant. In Japanese, Doromamire means muddy or mud-caked, not normally something one would associate with fine dining. However, its meant to convey the idea that all food comes directly from the farm, a place that can get extremely muddy. After working in the fields all day, your boots are inevitably caked with mud. So after a long day exploring Tokyo, why not come inside and enjoy some food straight from the farm in the heart of the city.
For smartphone users, please click the link below to go to the Tadaima Japan website which includes additional location details:
If you chose to visit this restaurant after reading this article, don’t hesitate to tell the staff you found out about them through the Tadaima Japan website.
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