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Japanese pubs, called izakaya, are attracting growing attention in Japan and overseas. As a matter of fact, a recent article in The New York Times claimed that the izakaya is "starting to shove the sushi bar off its pedestal." While Japan has many guidebooks and cookbooks, this is the first publication in English to delve into every aspect of a unique and vital cornerstone Japanese pubs, called izakaya, are attracting growing attention in Japan and overseas. As a matter of fact, a recent article in The New York Times claimed that the izakaya is "starting to shove the sushi bar off its pedestal." While Japan has many guidebooks and cookbooks, this is the first publication in English to delve into every aspect of a unique and vital cornerstone of Japanese food culture. A venue for socializing and an increasingly innovative culinary influence, the izakaya serves mouth-watering and inexpensive small-plate cooking, along with free-flowing drinks. Readers of this essential book will be guided through the different styles of establishments and recipes that make izakaya such relaxing and appealing destinations. At the same time, they will learn to cook many delicious standards and specialties, and discover how to "design" a meal as the evening progresses. Eight Tokyo pubs are introduced, ranging from those that serve the traditional Japanese "comfort foods" such as yakitori (barbequed chicken), to those offering highly innovative creations. Some of them have long histories; some are more recent players on the scene. All are quite familiar to the author, who has chosen them for the variety they represent: from the most venerated downtown pub to the new-style standing bar with French-influenced menu. Mark Robinson includes knowledgeable text on the social and cultural etiquette of visiting izakaya, so the book can used as a guide to entering the potentially daunting world of the pub. Besides the 60 detailed recipes, he also offers descriptions of Japanese ingredients and spices, a guide to the wide varieties of sake and other alcoholic drinks that are served, "how-to" advice on menu ordering, and much more. For the home chef, the hungry gourmet, the food professional, this is more than a cookbook. It is a unique peek at an important and exciting dining and cultural phenomenon.


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Japanese pubs, called izakaya, are attracting growing attention in Japan and overseas. As a matter of fact, a recent article in The New York Times claimed that the izakaya is "starting to shove the sushi bar off its pedestal." While Japan has many guidebooks and cookbooks, this is the first publication in English to delve into every aspect of a unique and vital cornerstone Japanese pubs, called izakaya, are attracting growing attention in Japan and overseas. As a matter of fact, a recent article in The New York Times claimed that the izakaya is "starting to shove the sushi bar off its pedestal." While Japan has many guidebooks and cookbooks, this is the first publication in English to delve into every aspect of a unique and vital cornerstone of Japanese food culture. A venue for socializing and an increasingly innovative culinary influence, the izakaya serves mouth-watering and inexpensive small-plate cooking, along with free-flowing drinks. Readers of this essential book will be guided through the different styles of establishments and recipes that make izakaya such relaxing and appealing destinations. At the same time, they will learn to cook many delicious standards and specialties, and discover how to "design" a meal as the evening progresses. Eight Tokyo pubs are introduced, ranging from those that serve the traditional Japanese "comfort foods" such as yakitori (barbequed chicken), to those offering highly innovative creations. Some of them have long histories; some are more recent players on the scene. All are quite familiar to the author, who has chosen them for the variety they represent: from the most venerated downtown pub to the new-style standing bar with French-influenced menu. Mark Robinson includes knowledgeable text on the social and cultural etiquette of visiting izakaya, so the book can used as a guide to entering the potentially daunting world of the pub. Besides the 60 detailed recipes, he also offers descriptions of Japanese ingredients and spices, a guide to the wide varieties of sake and other alcoholic drinks that are served, "how-to" advice on menu ordering, and much more. For the home chef, the hungry gourmet, the food professional, this is more than a cookbook. It is a unique peek at an important and exciting dining and cultural phenomenon.

30 review for Izakaya: The Japanese Pub Cookbook

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nelly Santanna

    Can I go to Japan like right now? I want to cook almost everything from this book! Can't wait for my next party at home! 😍

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ad_blankestijn

    One of my favorite Japanese restaurants is the izakaya, the Japanese pub where you enjoy light foods with a variety of drinks, all in a relaxed and easygoing atmosphere. Izakaya food has gotten a bad reputation due to the prevalence of cheap chain stores around stations. For the real izakaya experience you have to hunt for the individualistic places where the cook still cooks with fresh ingredients, standing behind the counter, and where usually the choice of sakes is excellent as well. Izakaya, One of my favorite Japanese restaurants is the izakaya, the Japanese pub where you enjoy light foods with a variety of drinks, all in a relaxed and easygoing atmosphere. Izakaya food has gotten a bad reputation due to the prevalence of cheap chain stores around stations. For the real izakaya experience you have to hunt for the individualistic places where the cook still cooks with fresh ingredients, standing behind the counter, and where usually the choice of sakes is excellent as well. Izakaya, the Japanese Pub Book introduces eight brilliant establishments from Tokyo, all with their own characteristics: passionate chefs, superb food and loyal customers. Author Mark Robinson also includes 60 recipes for culinary do-it-yourselvers. He discusses cooking techniques and ingredients and helps first-timers by providing guidance on izakaya manners and language. The book is interspersed with smaller articles on such useful subjects as izakaya history and Japanese aromatics. In short, this “gateway to Japan's friendliest dining experience” is a beguiling window on a cornerstone of Japanese food culture. For a longer review, see my website: http://www.japannavigator.com/2008/10...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I picked this book up by chance when I was looking for Thanksgiving cookbooks (a bit off I know, but I love to browse the cookbook section at the library). Fantastic and fascinating primer for those wanting to learn to cook Japanese pub food for dinner parties and such, and those wanting the history and culture behind Izakayas. The recipes for the most part I personally wouldn't have eaten, based on availability of ingredients or the fact they liked to eat offal, eel or wakame (definitely all I picked this book up by chance when I was looking for Thanksgiving cookbooks (a bit off I know, but I love to browse the cookbook section at the library). Fantastic and fascinating primer for those wanting to learn to cook Japanese pub food for dinner parties and such, and those wanting the history and culture behind Izakayas. The recipes for the most part I personally wouldn't have eaten, based on availability of ingredients or the fact they liked to eat offal, eel or wakame (definitely all required tastes). I would like to try out some of the recipes though, given more time to prepare them. The photography of the food was amazing, and made everything look so delicious. I liked learning about the stories behind the different pub owners and their establishments, comic and manga books produced related to Japanese cooking and pubs, a glossary of terms used in the book and most importantly the Japanese phrases one should use when in a pub.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    Everything that was wrong with the last Izukaya cookbook I just read, is RIGHT with this one. So very, very right. A small, but deliberate variety, of real life pubs in Japan explained, explored, and consumed: from origin to ambience. Utterly authentic and yet written with a foreigner's point of view (who clearly has a deep appreciation of the culture). The opening paragraphs have to pull you in or you have no business reading this book. I say that as a shameless visual reader who often skips Everything that was wrong with the last Izukaya cookbook I just read, is RIGHT with this one. So very, very right. A small, but deliberate variety, of real life pubs in Japan explained, explored, and consumed: from origin to ambience. Utterly authentic and yet written with a foreigner's point of view (who clearly has a deep appreciation of the culture). The opening paragraphs have to pull you in or you have no business reading this book. I say that as a shameless visual reader who often skips text until last. It is perfectly organized, the recipes are all likely something you could do at home, look DELICIOUS, as well as being well organized AND beautifully photographed. I've enjoyed Japanese cuisine for a long time and still came across new information and ingredients. I appreciate that despite how many pages contain photos and recipes, there is still time for a glossary. And oh yes, the liquor is also discussed (again, unlike the last book on this topic). Sake. Beer. Shochu. And things in between. This book has no pretense and yet is all class; easy to read; the author's voice is smooth and evocative, without ever being crass or over-the-top. If anything, like myself, perhaps he is overly sentimental. But then...that was something I always enjoyed about Japanese culture (even in their comic books). Everything is explained, nothing is deliberately taken for granted or glossed over, though you're also never spoken down to, or feel as if the author brags. It is much more like you're allowed to accompany them, from laughing women to serious chefs, and worn out shoes left at the doorway -- it's like you are there. Don't miss the story behind simple sliced tomatoes with salt. Challenge yourself to find some of the more authentic ingredients online; try a new flavor, if possible. Does celery really match with squid? I wonder... Can you REALLY eat the scales of "tile fish"?? And what would the world be without little clams in miso soup or mashed potato salad? But who would've expected to find German Bratkartoffeln in Japan? mit soy sauce! This is what I'm talking about. The photos remind me of the sort of comfortable, yet precise images that often draw me to Japanese books and magazines which I cannot completely read but purchase for the emotion and information contained in pictures alone. I've learned much staring at only the images in Japanese media, what a treat to finally be able to not only be able to read every word that accompanies them, but to be able to SAVOR that experience as much as a person might with food. The colors reflect the night with lush sepias and near candlelight settings, as it should be. No one is touched up or staged, and yet the light always manages to be flattering to faces and food. Earnest. My bonus points to an already perfect book, go toward the little touches, images we don't "really" need like a patron's personal sake jug with an sharpie drawn illustration on it. Or the darling, yet accurate, sketch of a cramped & typical izukaya kitchen -- what's more, juxtaposed by a true salary man wandering the barely lit neon alleys that contain them. I'm familiar enough with Japanese culture to know the authenticity presented here, but enough of a gaikoku to still revel in the newness of nuances.

  5. 4 out of 5

    MissAnnThrope

    My favorite kind of food is izakaya, which is something like Japanese tapas. I love going out to eat and sampling a little bit of this and a little bit of that. As they say, "variety is the spice of life"! When you attempt to order a range of dishes in most restaurants, the portions end up being too much and your bill ends up astronomical. Not too mention, the raised eyebrows from the food servers as they size me up and look at my eight-dish order, exclaiming "This is too much food!" Hey, I'm My favorite kind of food is izakaya, which is something like Japanese tapas. I love going out to eat and sampling a little bit of this and a little bit of that. As they say, "variety is the spice of life"! When you attempt to order a range of dishes in most restaurants, the portions end up being too much and your bill ends up astronomical. Not too mention, the raised eyebrows from the food servers as they size me up and look at my eight-dish order, exclaiming "This is too much food!" Hey, I'm paying for it, what's it to you?!?! With izakaya, you get the satisfaction of trying a wide variety of different flavors with a bunch of small appetizer-sized dishes, and no funny looks from the servers. They expect you to order a lot and even appreciate it, which is exactly why this little piggy loves izakaya! When I saw a cookbook full of izakaya recipes, I had to get it! Some of my favorite dishes are featured in this book, so I was thrilled to learn how to make them. These are delicious authentic Japanese recipes guaranteed to be a party in your mouth.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paul Comeau

    Pros: Great recipes, idea wise. Shows the various types of Japanese pub food options from classic to fancy. Cons: Recipes need a lot of interpretation... e.g. the potato salad calls for 3 Tb ginger pickles w/ liquid. Does that mean 3 Tb veg and liquid together? 3 Tb veg, then add the pickling liquid. Further confused by the ginger pickle recipe which only has 1 Tb of veg in it. Or the fry chicken in 350 C (175 C) temp oil?? Kinda a major typo... Add to that my standard dings for cookbooks (vague Pros: Great recipes, idea wise. Shows the various types of Japanese pub food options from classic to fancy. Cons: Recipes need a lot of interpretation... e.g. the potato salad calls for 3 Tb ginger pickles w/ liquid. Does that mean 3 Tb veg and liquid together? 3 Tb veg, then add the pickling liquid. Further confused by the ginger pickle recipe which only has 1 Tb of veg in it. Or the fry chicken in 350 C (175 C) temp oil?? Kinda a major typo... Add to that my standard dings for cookbooks (vague amounts like small onion, sprinkle some salt, etc. instead of accurate measures). This means I have to second guess a lot, go to other sources, or recall what I've seen on NHK World cooking shows. So only two stars cause the dishes all sound great, but the instructions aren't as clear as they could be.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Vaughn

    This is a really cool book. Part cookbook, part cultural journey into the heart of 8 traditional Japanese Pubs (Izakaya), their chefs, staff, customers and food. Fascinating stuff, makes me want to go back to Japan just to eat. According to the author, Izakaya food will (or should) be the "next Tapas bars" in American cities. I recently learned that the first two have opened in Seattle, so he may be right.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Robert Hudder

    Izakaya is a Japanese bar with tapas. Grabbed a few recipes from here as the author describes a few relevant restaurants and what makes them so unique. Reminded me that I wanted to review Sauce on Danforth's food menu. Also, thinking about do a speak easy themed party this year. Anyways, the recipes look easy enough to do but some of them will require scouring the city for the ingredients or just a quick trip to Markham. Anyways. Good but no room on my shelves for this one.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    Since I'm a vegetarian most of these recipes I passed by, however I did find an interesting recipe for miso-cured tofu that I think could be a good cheese substitute, however it takes two years (yes years) to fully cure so I have yet to see how it will turn out. I also appreciated a couple other recipes but I think this book is mostly for you meat lovers out there.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Garrett

    Fantastic cook book - haven't had a chance to try out the recipes, but they look interesting, unique and well thought out. I really like the chapter structure. The author separates each chapter into a food or drink theme and attaches that to a particular Izakaya. I don't buy books often, but I'd love to have this one on my shelf.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Josie

    Yum! This book has some beautiful pictures and descriptions, and I can't wait to try the recipes. I just wish Izakaya (like all food in Japan) was more vegetarian friendly. Still, definitely an enjoyable read!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I am a big fan of Izakaya (Japanese Pub) love sitting at the bar watching the food being cooked & drinking my face off. This book was very well done some beautiful recipes & the writing paint a pic of how the atmosphere in a izakaya.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    3.5 stars. I found the info about Japanese pub culture more fascinating than the recipes. I know its pub food, but for some reason I was anticipating less deep fried foods.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Fresno Bob

    More izakaya primer than cookbook, it made me hungry and miss Tokyo

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    Great recipes, and a real feel for how these establishments work and feel.

  16. 4 out of 5

    William Lubold

    Very informative and challenging. I'm always looking for ideas to steal, and this book had plenty.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Degan Walters

  18. 5 out of 5

    Melvin

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ricardo Rivera

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Helling

  21. 4 out of 5

    Beth Ann

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gwyn Moore

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anadelle Ramirez

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lana

  25. 5 out of 5

    Betty Tellis

  26. 4 out of 5

    Xav

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mark Chu-Carroll

  29. 5 out of 5

    Buulinh Liu

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

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