Shimbashi, Shimbashi, Japan
Kagaya Shimbashi Reviews
KAGAYA - frog costumes and wobbly glasses - what a night! Jul 05, 2009
It was my birthday and my friend Leah who had already been living in japan for some months, organised a dinner at 'Kagaya', an izakaya in Shimbashi. She had read about the place on the net and it sounded very entertaining.
Upon descending the stairs from the street and entering into the rather modest, plain looking surroundings we were met with silence and werent even sure the place was open... Leah whispered to me 'maybe we should go somewhere else...?' just as she'd finished her sentence out came a curious fellow in an apron who told us his name was 'mark' kagaya. (an interesting name for a japanese man but we didn't ask...)
Mark showed us to our table with a wide grin, and our friends soon arrived (boris got a little lost as he was following the map from the website...drawn in coloured crayon and scanned by Kagaya himself...very amusing but apparently a little difficult to decipher! So if you plan to go perhaps use google maps!).
It was traditional japanese seating style, on cushions not chairs. This was quite comfortable and as we settled into the little corner table we began to relax a little. All of a sudden a giant robotic remote controlled ampanman (japanese cartoon character) emerged from the kitchen with a clatter and a jerk as it came straight for our table with hot towels on its head. Kagaya directed from the kitchen 'TAKE A TOWEL!' We immediately obeyed, a little perplexed but highly amused. We used the towels in fits of nervous giggles...
Kagaya then brought out a menu written entirely in coloured crayons in an old notebook. He instructed us to choose a country from a list of about 6 - we chose france first up...and he disappeared excitedly. He soon returned with an easle, wearing a beret and began to sketch my friend phoebe! (he drew a great picture!) which he then presented to her along with her drink.
For each drink we ordered we chose a different country and were treated to very entertaining (if a little strange) performances as we received our drink. China was a martial arts display and Japan was a traditional geisha dance!
My friend boris got the fright of his life when he picked up his beer glass to find it shaking uncontrollably in his hand - a trick glass! Very amusing to watch him try to drink it. Kagaya refused to give him a proper glass, much to our delight! Boris was very amused himself, and eventually figured out how to hold the bottom as he sipped to stop the shaking! Apparently that meant he'd passed the test and was finally awarded with a normal, non-shaking beer glass...
After we'd already tucked into a few plates of delicious food (we chose the set menu of vegetarian and fish - Kagaya's wife prepares all the dishes from behind the scenes) mark emerged from the kitchen wearing a frog costume! By this stage the sake & beer was flowing freely and mark had begun to join in the laughs with us... he let my friend Leah try on the costume for photos, my other friend Andre put on a monkey costume - what a laugh!
Mark continued to bring plate after plate of mouth-watering morcels until we couldn't have possibly fit another thing in. We spent the rest of the night sipping Sake and laughing at Mark's stories and antics. The story he tells when explaining how the menu works when you first arrive is priceless...
Mark Kagaya is ether clinically insane or just one very clever guy who is completely clued in on how to entertain (and mess with) foreigners. After a little deliberation, i have decided he is the latter. It is a very clever performance, both fulfilling the foreign perception of 'crazy tokyo' and providing some of the most incredible home-cooked food you will taste in japan...
One thing's for sure... Mark Kagaya does 'crazy' very well, and a visit to his establishment will not leave you bored!!
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