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Izakaya: The Japanese Pub Cookbook    by Mark Robinson & Masashi Kuma Amazon.com order for
Izakaya
by Mark Robinson
Order:  USA  Can
Kodansha International, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

I know very little about Japanese cooking just that what I have tried was very good. Now along comes a cookbook to demystify the Japanese culinary world with good ole pub food. Though different from what Americans or Europeans would consider pub food, it's well worth a try. So, give rein to your tastes and choose a recipe from Izakaya (pronounced roughly ee-ZAH-ka-ya). Americans love innovative foods and here's a cookbook to satisfy those desires for something different but darn good.

Izakaya highlights the more popular pubs in Japan and some of their most requested dishes. These pubs have not been thrown up to meet a recent demand. They have been on the scene for a long time and proudly display their wares behind curtains of noren and frosted glass doors. Many in Tokyo have never had sushi or set foot in an haute cuisine restaurant but few have not been in an izakaya. So bow to the inevitable. Admit you're curious. Go ahead. Indulge in the wonderful recipes within these pages.

Try Simmered Kamo-eggplant and Pork Loin from the Maru restaurant, as well as their Green Beans with Sesame Sauce. Or how about Mashed Potato Salad with Mayonnaise and Fried Tofu Stuffed with Raclette Cheese, from Shinsuke? Yamariki has a wonderful looking Summer Scallop Salad with Spicy Tomato Sauce.

Did I mention the glorious photos that grace these pages? Should have, as they have me salivating - although I'm not too sure about the "Motsu" Beef Intestine Stew. An aside has this to say about the stew: 'Not everyone with whom I've shared a meal here has leapt at the prospect of eating intestines, but no one has emitted less than a groan of intense pleasure upon tasting this rich and deep miso stew.' I guess it's a case of don't knock it unless you've tried it. I'm game.

So polish up your chopsticks and try something new, different, exciting and really good. All you will need to know to serve up the recipes yourself in your own kitchen lies within the pages of Izakaya.

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