Oh! Taisho

oh! taisho entranceIn December 2005 I tried that Saint Mark’s stand-by Yakitori Taisho. That experience left me feeling like i’d been run thru the Maytag spin cycle and was also my unfortunate introduction to rough and overpowering taru sake. Recently, I discovered however that Yakitori Taisho had opened a sister restaurant down the block called “Oh! Taisho” and I felt compelled to investigate. I will leave no sake stone unturned!

Upon our 7PM arrival, “Oh! Taisho” was jammed packed but they were able to squeeze us in at the bar. Soon after we sat down, a long line of folks formed outside. “Oh! Taisho” is a restaurant that is a real sensory experience. yummy grilled bitsUsually I prefer a SAKE Sensory experience with my Japanese food… sipping the bouquet, lingering over the mouth-feel… “Oh! Taisho” however forces other demands on my senses. Above the din of patrons chatting away, waitresses scream orders at the cooks, cooks scream replies back. Smoke billows from every grill and deep fryer in a wild mix of smells. Two seats open in the back? More screaming and the petite hostess in charge of seating has the loudest voice of all. Barring an outbreak of laryngitis, she’s got tremendous job security.

yamada_nishiki.jpgEnjoyment of sake was forcibly demoted to supporting player in this distracting whirlwind of sight, sound and smell. The sake menu was mostly limited to a shortlist of sturdy workhorse junmai sakes. They seemed a good fit for the rapid fire grill and fry fare served at “Oh! Taisho”. Needing a drink quickly, I picked the Ozeki Yamadanishiki Junmai (Ozeki Brewery, Nada Prefecture, ALC 14.8%, SMV +3, Acidity 1.8, Rice Yamadanishiki) and hoped for the best.

All sake is offered warmed or chilled – and regardless of the temperature, it’s served in a ceramic tokkuri and ochoko used normally only for heated sake. I must say, given the surroundings, the Yamadanishiki Junmai filled the bill nicely – Instead of fishing for nuance or a lingering tail in this sake, I ended up drinking swigs of this hearty Junmai as a chaser to the various grilled and fried bits slapped down in front of me. The stronger alcohol flavors in the Junmai worked well to cleanse the palate before the next rich, dare I say greasy, bite.

cold_sake_is_served_thusly.jpgOne such dish was the stand out deep-fried tempura squid legs. Pairing the squid with the Ozeki Junmai was delicious. quite recommended! When our supplies of fried food and sake began winding down, the crowd waiting at the door only seemed to grow. We fled “Oh! Taisho” for dessert one block north at the refined Cha-an tea house. Cha-an was a serene oasis of calm and refection… the silence was deafening. I realized that “Oh! Taisho” earned every bit of that exclamation mark built into it’s name.

Thanks to everyone for reading these posts.  I’ll be posting some more videos soon – so stay tuned. かんぱい!Kanpai!