Obanzai Nana, Shibuya / おばんざい 菜な、渋谷

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Have you ever been in need of an izakaya that was reasonably priced by reasonably healthy? Where the atmosphere is casual yet comfortable?

Well, Obanzai Nana is your answer…I’ve now hit up their Shibuya store (opposite BIC Camera) three times and delighted whoever I’ve introduced.

A good friend of me let me on this secret as she’s a big veggie fan. Nana will sort you out with veggies, pickles, grilled fish, tofu. Nothing is overly sweet, although I did order some grilled chicken once that could have oiled my bicycle for a year…

Obanzai itself refers to a kind of traditional cuisine from Kyoto, in which at least half the ingredients must be produced and processed in Kyoto, and be seasonal. Obanzai Nana is a very small chain, ironically with no stores in Kyoto but I guess they have plenty of obanzai restaurants there already…

A feature of the cuisine is lots of small dishes beautifully presented. My favourite way to start off is to get some sake on order (I just enjoyed Hidakami (日高見) from Miyagi Prefecture if you like a dry taste – it’s very easy to drink, with just the right sharp finish) and then order a moriawase (盛り合わせ) of little dishes to start at a fixed price for 3 or 5. Personal recommendations are beef and cream cheese, and the pumpkin and sesame… because how could things go too far wrong with ingredients like that? The tofu with pork mince and miso is also a great entrée.

Other highlights:

  • tsukune (chicken meatballs) which have a slight crunch and sweet soy-based coating – be sure to dip liberally in the raw egg
  • deep fried tomato and avocado soaked in dashi – it’s stodgy, salty, moreish and… vegetables! Healthy, right? 🙂
  • yam croquettes – mixed with beef, possibly mirin (sweet rice wine) and coated in a temptingly thick sesame sauce

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The whole restaurant is beautifully decked out with an open kitchen surrounded by counter seating and individual tables with dropped floor seating. Aesthetically, it’s got everything spot on.

Keep this place up your sleeve for travellers who want to sample something “Japanese” but still feel comfortable.

Obanzai Nana

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