Izakaya By Name…

...izakaya by nature. It’s a mini travel blog incorporating all of your favourite things: food, Japan and impulse buying! Don’t worry though, I have been playing more Hollow Knight, Mortal Shell (where you control a different kind of hollow knight), and Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. Fewer games have been played in the run up to the exam unfortunately, and I’ve got a restraining order out against Breath of the Wild – I can’t be within 200 feet of it until May.

Bristol isn’t a city I know well, but it’s a city I want to get to know. I’ve had a few trips to attend courses held in Southmead Hospital and the city centre and I found myself there for an overnight this week. It was my first overnight away from home in a long time, covid not having encouraged a lot of travel, and I booked myself a spare room on Airbnb close to the hospital. It was a comfortable space in a nice older lady’s property. The stay even came with a grapefruit for breakfast which was a pleasant, if somewhat unexpected, surprise. After scraping my eyeballs across stacks of cytology slides I met up with a friend living in the city and we went out for dinner.

I wasn’t kidding

A short bus trip into town and we found Izakaya, a restaurant with a marquee out front advertising “Japanese Street Food”. A few good buzzwords to start, although street food isn’t actually as prevalent in Japan as in other Asian countries. I did rather enjoy takoyaki the couple of times I had it in Osaka, and I was keen to see what Izakaya had to offer. An izakaya refers to a style of Japanese pub where you can sit down with a beer and order a series of dishes including anything from grilled meat skewers to sashimi. Chicken cartilage or nankotsu was a particular favourite of my Japanese host during my elective. Not as bad as you might imagine, but being cartilage it doesn’t bring a lot of flavour to the table.

Back to Bristol. In a way, the naming is a bit silly. It’s the equivalent of moving to Tokyo and opening a traditional English pub called “Pub”. Having said that, that’s exactly the kind of thing that might work in Japan. I digress. The restaurant was buzzing and we just about managed to get a table in the marquee outside sheltered from most of the elements. The menu looked promising with classics such as yakitori (grilled meat skewers), takoyaki (deep fried dough balls with octopus), gyoza (Japanese dumplings), okonomiyaki (a kind of pancake hailing from Osaka and Hiroshima) and a whole raft of sushi options. We ordered a range of dishes including soft shell crab tempura which has been on my “to eat” list for a long time.

Sitting there with a good friend, a glass of Asahi and a heap of food, I felt memories of Japan rushing back. This has easily been the best Japanese food I’ve had outside of Japan. We recently had a meal at Tea & Bun in Plymouth Market and while it was pleasant enough, it didn’t quite do it for me. Izakaya was a different experience altogether. Everything was cooked and presented beautifully, and we finished off the meal with some ice cream-filled mochi, custard-filled dorayaki (filled pancakes), sake and umeshu-soda.

Other Business

After battling with myself, I finally bought a (fully working) Festool TS55 tracksaw so there’s no stopping the office renovations now. I also ordered a VanMoof S3 e-bike because the traffic has become almost unmanageable around the hospital, and I wanted something powerful to carry Evie, her stuff and my stuff. It’s a really interesting technology packed machine and I will be writing more about it once it arrives (there’s a few weeks lead time at present). My original plan was to purchase it through the cycle to work scheme but I couldn’t resist buying it sooner or later. No, I don’t believe I do have a problem with self control but hold that thought while I push this big red button…

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