Serendipity is the soul of travel, even in a trip as exquisitely planned as our current adventure. An Italian Restaurant is quite possibly the last cuisine I would select while traveling in Japan. And yet...
We were exploring the Dotonbori district, enjoying the lights and action. It was well past happy hour. After a long day of touring, we were looking for a bar to discuss dinner plans. Some minor group discord surfaced as several bars did not pass muster for the female contingent. Finally we walked past an Italian restaurant and saw a quiet cozy bar through the window. The women liked it. I was dubious but thirsty. We went in.
At the bar, Stan, Lisa and Sigrid each ordered a martini. The bartender explained to the confused Americans that he did not have Martini glasses, shakers, olives or vermouth. This struck me as a pretty good indicator that this is not the best bar to order martinis, but my traveling companions insisted. My suspicions were confirmed when the "martinis"were served.
Essentially vodka over glowing "rocks" with a twist. Not a martini in my book. But they were were happy, so who am I to judge.
I instead solicited the bartender's advice, and was rewarded by an excellent cold sake, served in a cleverly designed elegant glass decanter. Ice placed in a concave bubble in the side of the decanter kept the sake cold without diluting the drink. This was clearly the right drink to order in this bar. Hori the bartender (yes - we were now on a first name basis) noted the girls admiring the decanter and offered it to us as a gift, along with a free round of sake. I think he was embarrassed by the martinis he was serving - thereby showing a great deal more aesthetic sense than those drinking them.
At this point we were so enamored with our bartender, we felt obligated to stay for dinner. Hori was also Captain of the restaurant, as well as dispensing libations behind the bar. He showed us to a table and patiently translated the Japanese menu.
Mitsuke Italian was a fortuitous choice. Everything we ordered was perfectly prepared and attractively presented. Although clearly Italian inspired, the cuisine could be more accurately described as an Italian/Japanese fusion. Every conventionally named Italian dish had a unique Japanese twist.
Everyone was delighted with every course. Mitsuke Italian is a real gem. If you find yourself in the Dotonburi district check it out, even if you are not looking for "Italian". I expect you'll be as pleasantly surprised as we were. And say hello to Hori for us.
MW Recommends: Mitsuke Italian
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