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A gem of an Izakaya in Shanghai’s central  Jing’an District

After a trip to Japan, we became totally addicted to Japanese food, amiyaki, teppanyaki, yakitori, sushi…. you name it. I think the reason why I like it so much is that most Japanese food is thoughtful and intentional with the of goal of culinary perfection in mind – whether it be a simple bowl of rice or an elaborate multi-course meal. What I mean by thoughtful and intentional can be best observed in the details, like never a drop more sauce than one needs, or perfectly balanced plate presentation, or sushi apprentices who can spend up to 2 years just forming the rice before they even get to look at a fish. So when a friend in Shanghai offered to take us to an authentic izakaya named Makoto, we were out the door before you could say “sake.”

It was a very cold night, bundled in our coats we made our way through the Jing’an District of Shanghai to Makoto. My friend pointed out the warm glow of light ahead as the restaurant, and when we opened the door we were greeted by the standard Japanese welcome. “Irasshaimase!” As Izakaya’s usually are, the restaurant was simple but cozy. We shed our coats and made our way to the table where we decided to order sake. Makoto has an extensive sake menu. In fact, it is so extensive that we felt like we needed a little help. It was then that an elegant Japanese man came to our table and introduced himself as the owner. We spent a good 10 minutes chatting (his English was perfect) about sake and selected one that the owner recommended. It was exactly what we had in our mind’s eye….super smooth, with a crisp finish with a slight floral quality.

Next on to the menu! Since the menu is only in Japanese or Chinese, if you do not speak either of those languages you may need help from the English speaking owner. However, we were with some fluent Mandarin speakers, so we let them take the reins. They chose an assortment of small plates including fried fish in vinegar sauce, boiled vegetable with sesame, sashimi, fried mince meat, lotus root and grilled eel. As one would expect, everything was perfect. I think my favourites though had to be the fried fish in vinegar sauce and the lotus root. In fact the fish was such a big hit, we ordered another plate of it.

As we walked home from the restaurant, Paul sighed, “If only we lived in Shanghai, we could eat at that place all the time.” And he’s right. If we were based on Shanghai,  Makoto would become a regular haunt for us. It’s not fancy, nor is it expensive…. the focus is on simple food at the highest quality possible. How Japanese.

177 Fumin Lu,
Jing An
Shanghai, China
Telephone: +86 21 5403 1943

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