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Japanese Izakaya Food

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When the work day is over, and it’s time to take a load off, grab a beer and get a bite to eat, the English have their pubs, and the Japanese have izakayas. Izakayas are a staple business in Japan. Every town has at least one, and Tokyo has thousands of them. Usually small and dark, out-of-the-way, tucked into a side alley or even in the back corner of a metro station, izakayas seat a small clientele every night. Their owners are sometimes the only staff, catering to a seated bar of maybe 8 to 10 customers. The larger izakayas will hold a few dozen people, but they are few and far between in Tokyo where there are over 160,000 restaurants.

I’m not going to lie to you, one of my life goals is to live in Tokyo and have the perfect neighborhood izakaya right downstairs where the owner knows my name, and I can get preferred seating. What a dream! That’s probably why for REMOVED and RELEASED, I made Sanaa’s best friend, Miko, the heiress of a well-known izakaya. I wanted a place where Sanaa could gather with her friends and family, a neutral spot that would be theirs until it was time to pick up and leave. A family-owned izakaya was my best idea, and Izakaya Tanaka was born of my many nights dreaming in bed of my own such place.

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S. J. Pajonas