That Nakano has plenty to offer besides the otaku “delights” of Mandrake is well known, especially to those who enjoy izakaya. Out of the station's north exit, the labyrinthine area sandwiched between the Sun Mall shōtengai and the Fureai Road is home to a bewildering – and of late changing – array of izakaya and bars of various persuasions.
Jidori-ya (spelt with a ぢ) is a little place specializing in simple free-range chicken izakaya fare and other classics reminiscent of much that is nowadays touted as cuisine peculiar to Miyazaki-ken.
Prices are reasonable; beer, Hoppy and cheap shōchū plentiful, and the service friendly, informative and a little over-concerned...
“Can the honourable foreigner eat chewy chicken?” Yes, he could, and so too could his honourably indigenous dining partner. So it was that we tucked into an admittedly chewy, but thoroughly delicious dish of firm, charcoal grilled momoniku. The smoky flavour rich enough to be interesting, without becoming burdensome. In fact, as we lingered over this and other dishes, it was quite delicious even after becoming cold.
The potato salad was poor, which is to say sloppy – the easy way out is always to rely on the mayonnaise too much. Certainly not as good as the perfectly humble variety served at Isukura. The edamame, too, failed to impress.
The interior was fun though. Packed up front (the space is L-shaped), we’d entered because the crowded counter and side tables suggested that either the food was at least okay, or the prices were very, very cheap; or perhaps a nice combination of the two. The mix of simple tables, 1950s (?) television set and a kind of tobacco/ sweet shop façade seemingly rescued from the set of Always added to the neighborhood Shōwa feel of the place.
There was nothing tired or musty about the gyūreba teki however. Again, the staff were concerned about the esteemed visitor’s ability to eat liver, let alone raw liver – from a cow of all things – but such niggles aside it tasted great. Both the sesame oil and grated ginger complimented the dish perfectly. The potato wedges went down a treat, as they tend to after being silly with the beer.