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May 09, 2006

Jakko Yakko

Dominic Armato
Ohhhh, it's been too long.

Japan is (predictably) one of my favorite culinary destinations, and after having missed our yearly trip in 2005, the cravings were getting pretty intense. So, having just gotten in this evening, despite a distinct lack of energy in the crowd, we opted to press on and grab a little something to eat before calling it a night.

We're staying in Ginza, as we generally do, but this time we're trying out a new hotel on the opposite end of the strip. As a result, all of the usual haunts are a ways away, so we decided to wander around for a few minutes and fall into a random spot. The place we picked wasn't bad. It was one of the ubiquitous office building Japanese restaurants where you can go to smoke, drink beer and put down any number of casual munchies until fairly late at night. I'm not a beer drinker, but I love getting beer in Japan. It's very clean, very crisp, very dry and very, very cold. And this was definitely the kind of establishment where the food was meant to go well with beer. So we obliged with some Sapporo and assorted small dishes, some good, some lackluster, and one that was rather tasty.

A google search on the name, "jakko yakko", turned up absolutely nothing, which leads me to believe that it's probably some house special, or perhaps just a goofy name for a more traditional dish. What you see pictured here was what arrived at the table (minus the one piece my father snagged before I managed to get the camera out). It was comprised of very fresh, cold tofu topped with tiny, crispy fried fish, fried garlic, scallions, and finished with a sweet and spicy soy-based sauce. If you're looking for the fish, they're there... quite whole. They're the tiny curls you'll see in the enlarged photo. The little black spots at one end are the eyes. They looked like little tiny baby smelt, or something of that nature. I've seen such fellows before, but I can't remember what type of fish they are. In any case, it was a great dish, and great beer food... salty, crunchy, garlicky, a little spicy... good stuff. But I'm rather curious to know if there's another more traditional name for this dish. Has anybody come across this before?

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