天秤棒 千日前本店 (Tenbinbo Izakaya)
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Seafood Izakaya with More Kinds of Fish than the Ocean
Tenbinbo is the kind of Japanese seafood restaurant that just couldn't exist outside of Japan. First off, it's huge, with more twists and turns than an M. Night Shymalan film and a seemingly endless number of tables and private rooms. Secondly, and most impressively, they honestly have everything, even stuff you didn't know existed or could exist. Every time I go, I learn about something new. Once, I ordered iwa gaki (岩が気, or rock oyster). The waiter explained that they had small and large sizes. We opted for the small and when it came to the table, its meat (not its shell) was legitimately 7 inches long. More importantly, it was incredibly delicious. Another time, I wanted to try their shira ko (白子, literally "white children" but more descriptively, fish sperm sac). The waiter explained that they had two kinds: blowfish (ふぐ or fugu) and cod, and strongly recommended the blowfish jizz. It was amazing! And it might be worth it alone for the jokes anyway... Very little to zero English language is spoken here, both by the customers and the staff. And there's no English menu whatsoever. Use the Internet and look up the Japanese name for anything you want to try. Odds are they'll have it. The monkfish (あんこ or anko) tempura and firefly squid (蛍烏賊 or hotaru ika) are highlights. And Tenbinbo might also a good place for you to try whale (クジラ or kujira) too. Just keep the Free Willy jokes to yourself, OK? Some of us are busy making fish sperm jokes at the next table over!
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