Barrel O' Fun

What's more fun than going to an izakaya?  Going to an izakaya shaped like a giant barrel!

Fred's friends invited us to izakaya "Tonneau" this weekend.  An izakaya is a popular type of establishment in Japan.  It's similar to a pub or a Japanese version of a Spanish tapas bar.  People come to hang out, drink and eat.  The food portions are smaller, so you can sample several different things while you drink.  I had been to a couple izakayas before, but nothing quite like this place.

Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me to capture this unusual izakaya.  Fred, however, had a photo of the exterior from the last time he went.  Behold, the barrel:

The interior was equally as impressive.  Lots of carved-wood details underneath the huge, vaulted barrel ceiling.  The menu was extensive and you order by picking up a phone at your table.  Fred's friend turned me onto a Japanese drink called chu-hi.  It's a carbonated fruit drink with alcohol - almost like a spritzer of sorts.  I had the grapefruit chu-hi with freshly squeeze juice.  It is my new favorite drink.

The food was delicious.  We sampled a variety of different foods - tuna sashimi, stir-fried eggplant with miso, stir-fried tofu with vegetables, and I even tried some sea grapes.  Sea grapes, or umibudo, are one of the million different types of seaweed here.  It is named for its tiny grape-like appearance.  Eaten raw, it has a crisp consistency as the salty "grapes" pop in your mouth.  I was surprised by how much I loved it.  It's available almost everywhere here, so I foresee much more umibudo in my future.

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