I am pretty sure Hakobune means “a place to get properly drunk” because that’s what happens every time I sample from the 500+ strong sake list.
This irori style restaurant (open hearth cooking) is the reason I started to import Binchotan (Japanese white charcoal) and Konro (Japanese tabletop barbeques) about 3 years ago. The look at feel of this place is like a country style izakaya with private booths each with its own fire pit filled with glowing sticks of binchotan.
The menu is seafood heavy and the one dish everyone must try is the iwazakana no irori yaki, a small river fish skewered and left to grill at the side of the fire.
Like all izakaya a small dish is served on arrival to offset the “cover” charge, normally about ¥500 or so. In this case we were served lightly dressed squid, spinach with sesame and a taster of sake.
Did I mention the sake list is out of control? The sake taster has whet my appetite for more and I highly recommend leaving the selection in the hands of the experienced staff. Totally love small pewter sake glasses and pewter tokkuri used to serve the sake.
The menu has all kinds of weird and wonderful fish that most Nihonjin would hardly recognise so I find it is better to say ‘o susume wa nan desuka’ – What is your recommendation?
The staff recommend well, starting with some pickles and some yaki gaki – charcoal grilled oysters.
We are armed with some cotton gloves and an oyster knife to pry open the briny Hokkaido sourced oysters.
Tiny dried squid make a great drinking snack, toss them on the grill until they become crisp and wash them down with slightly dryer sake and you will be on your way. We are also served the weirdest fish I have ever seen.
It looks like a cross between a whiting and an eel and once you get past the tiny bones pretty tasty.
Rice is a traditional way to finish a meal. We are served rice cooked in a small cast iron pot with tiny whitebait and nanohana.
Hakobune now has three branches, two in Ginza and one in nearby Higashi Shinbashi. Each has as different feel but we have a soft spot for the Higashi Shinbashi branch because you walk in from the bustling street into what feels like a country inn.
2F, 1-1-2 Higashi-Shinbashi, Minato-ku (above AM PM convenience store). Tel: 03-3574-7890
Ginza 8-8-8, Ginza 888 Bldg 7F. Tel: 03-6280-6330
Ginza INZ building 2-2F, Ginza. Tel: 03-3563-8333
Stayed in Ginza a couple of years ago. Wish I’d known about this place.