Akaoni, the lauded Red Devil of Sancha, is said to be one of the best nihonshu focused izakaya in town, famed for its list of 100 or more sakes – with a particular focus on smaller local breweries’ jizake – and quality food, both of which have been enjoyed by loyal patrons over the last three decades.
In my humble opinion, Akaoni enjoys a reputation better than it deserves.
Sure, the sake list is impressive and competitively priced. The food is good, but nothing mind blowing, the portions a little stingy (always leave feeling hungry) and the speed with which it is served at times agonizingly slow.
My first visit, almost a decade ago, left me feeling that the place was a little unfriendly and lacking in warmth – an impression that remained on subsequent, infrequent visits.
A bonenkai there with Moxie, Woody and Tobi-chan in December of last year confirmed my previous assessment as far as the drink and food goes, although the welcome and service was much friendlier… perhaps too much so, as the lady of the house was in full sales mode, to the point of being overbearing.
Such gripes aside, Akaoni is still a good little izakaya, and worth a visit, as long as your aim is to drink plenty of sake and nibble as an afterthought.
When you do nibble, the sashimi moriawase is a good bet, and can be had at a discount (i.e., an extra fish is added) if you order when making a reservation.
The towering stewed daikon was another favourite, as was the grilled lotus root.
On the other hand, the salads and nabe were pretty dull.
If sperm sacks are your thing, then the shirako might please, being particularly soft and creamy of texture.