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Drink (and Stuff Your Face) with the Locals at Hidden Italian-Japanese Izakaya Osaka  Japan

Drink (and Stuff Your Face) with the Locals at Hidden Italian-Japanese Izakaya

Snack is the kind of secret little drinking hole that Japan has perfected. Tiny one-room bars/izakayas where the customers all know not only the staff but eventually, after a few sakes, each other as well.

Owner and head chef Kazuyuki Kuroki, aka Kazu, speaks English well and his impressive sake, shochu, wine, and spirits offerings, combined with his impressive cocktail and chef skills, have earned him a justifiably loyal following. His food menu changes regularly depending on what's fresh and whatever inspiration happens to strike his fancy at any given time. The dishes are primarily Italian but usually inflected with hints of Japanese. Previous highlights include oysters au gratin, uni cream pasta, and a fried shrimp curry. Kazu does so well with canned sardines (pictured) you'd be forgiven for thinking he's actually an Eastern European Jewish grandmother in disguise. Most miraculously, Kazu preps and cooks every dish from a tiny alcove the size of a small oven and stovetop roughly the size of a Monopoly board. And you've gotta try Kazu's homemade つけもの (tsukemono, or pickles)!

Snack is that local friendly place where you'll show up for just one drink insisting on being full after having eaten a huge dinner, then end up staying until 5 in the morning and devouring one of everything on the food menu. It's on the second floor of the building next to gaijin watering hole Bar Zerro. Stop by one night between 6 PM and 4 AM or so and you'll understand what I mean...