Although located right next to The Emporium, Imoya draws in more neighborhood Japanese salarymen and artists than hiso shoppers. The place, hidden safely in an almost deserted building, has the atmosphere of an old, dusty, Japanese street side restaurant—think of Always or black and white films screened at the Japan Foundation. With its black ceiling, you might even be tricked into thinking you’re outdoors, looking up into the night—except for the air-con working quietly in the background. The sushi-bar is great for solo drinkers, while friends and colleagues often gather round the low tables set on tatami mats. There is also a room with two regular tables, but make sure the other table doesn’t smoke unless you want a cloudy meal. Imoya’s cuisine is home-cooking—don’t expect fancy imported ingredients or stylish presentation. Prices are reasonable but not all the dishes are equally good. We love the seafood hot pot which allows you to dip fresh fish, shrimp and squid in a sweet sauce (and ignore the soup itself). Tempura moriawase offers crispy and flavorful shrimps, slices of squid and vegetables. Sashimi comes in generous portions, whether it’s sashimi 3-ten moriawase (salmon, seabass and maguro) or sashimi 5-ten moriawase (octopus, maguro, sweet shrimp, scallop, surfclam). We weren’t quite so happy with the cheese age (fried cheese and bacon) an oily mess desperately in need of more of the promised bacon. The Saikoro beef steak is juicy and well-seasoned but get ready to spend five minutes chewing each bite. And tamayakoyaki is Japanese for kai-jeaw—not bad but not very exotic. Just as you’re about to give up hope, a dish will come along to cheer you up, like the kimuchi gyoza a moist, tender pork assortment. Drink up with the rest of the crowd with some sake and edamame. Or try the aoringo sawa and ume iri sawa; it might taste heavy on the soda but it can still get you drunk in a couple of glasses.
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