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Makkoli bar in Nishi-Shinjuku


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Makkoli bar in Nishi-Shinjuku

Robb S | Aug 26, 2006 09:45 AM

I had a great meal recently at Tejimaul in Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo, which bills itself as a "makkoli bar." They serve 11 different types of makkoli, a milky white alcoholic beverage similar to Japanese "cloudy" sake, plus a whole bunch of makkoli-based cocktails. I've only ever seen one or two kinds of makkoli on a typical Korean restaurant menu, so I was surprised by so much variety.

The first makkoli I tried seemed to be made with black beans in addition to rice, and it had a sweet, nutty flavor, a lot like hazelnut. I also tried an interesting "okage" version (okoge is toasted rice), and a "dongdongju" which was much smoother and closer to a Japanese nigori-zake (which is my main reference point). I still have 8 more makkoli to go, so I'm due for another visit soon.

The food menu is also unusually big and varied for Tokyo. The specialty is gourmet pork - three different breeds - and they grill up various cuts for you over a little portable gas-stove contraption right at your table. ( shows the different breeds of pig they use.) They also serve sashimi and raw beef, chige stews and soups, and a lot of original dishes like "chanja carbonara" and canapes on nori. I had one of the best kakuni (slow-cooked pork stew) I've ever had there.

There's no English menu, so go with a Japanese-speaking friend (or better yet, a Korean-speaking friend). It also helps if you really like pork, and don't mind some pork fat.

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