The name is a bit of a mouthful, so we usually refer to this restaurant as "that black place"*. Not so much on account of the first character in its name, but because the first thing that struck us was that exterior and interior were both painted black.
The black restaurant is located in Akasaka, near the office, so we followed the usual procedure — lunch first, second and third time and finally, to reward a consistently good performance, dinner. Lunch is always fish, such as ginmutsu no saikyoyaki (grilled with miso, mirin and sake). Dinner choices are more tricky.
In the true izagaya style, they have a bit of everything - sashimi, grilled fish, yakitori, tempura, noodles, and so on. A friend once ordered steak and that was delicious, too. The portions are not huge, but big enough to share between two. We usually order grilled fish and a few seasonal veggies and finish off with ochazuke. I grew very partial to the ochazuke here. There is a choice of ume (pickled plum), sake or mentaiko.
There is an English menu, but it is a bit limited, listing only the basics. The Japanese menu is more rewarding. Every month, there appears a new, beautifully handwritten sheet of paper, with seasonal offers. The calligraphy is hard to read, and the waiters, though nice and willing to help, are too busy to go through the whole sheet with us. We found that the best policy is to choose the type of food we would like to have and having thus narrowed the choices, to ask what is available in that particular category.
There is a good selection of regional nihonshu and an even larger one of shochu. Just try to get hold of the older waiters to advise you about the drinks.
Food: 7/10 (very good)
Ambiance: 7/10 (pleasant)
Price-performance: 8/10 (excellent value)
* It is not only us, who find it difficult. My Japanese colleagues call it "kuroi toko" which also means "black place" - in Japanese.
Address: 3-11-3 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel: +81 (3) 6229-2668