Just around the corner from Oakhouse Kamata (a sharehouse in Zoshiki) is Bincho Ohgiya, an izakaya specializing in yakitori or skewered grilled chicken. Drawn by its flashing signs the night before, I convinced a friend to check it out for dinner with me. It was a brief two minute walk, and we were quickly ushered in by a smiling waitress who greeted us at the door and checked our IDs.
That’s right. She checked our IDs. The closest western equivalent to an izakaya is a pub, where one typically orders drinks to go along with the meal. Because the drinks are the main part, the portions of the dishes are rather small, so you can order a lot of different small dishes to try. Once inside, I discovered that Bincho Ohgiya is actually a restaurant chain, and that they have locations all over Japan.
While most izakaya are not family friendly due to the alcohol, there were several families having dinner at the restaurant when we got there. The menu had non-alcoholic drink options, and the menu was also quite kid-friendly, with large colorful pictures and popular Japanese dishes. While the menus are all in Japanese, the abundance of pictures makes the menu easy to understand for first-timers at both Bincho Ohgiya and izakaya in general. With the ringing “irrasshaimase” (welcome) every time a customer walked in, and the interesting posters put up on the wooden walls, the entire restaurant had a fun, friendly and homey atmosphere.
We were impressed by the large variety of food on their menu, including salads, fried foods, noodles, and desserts. Our waiter recommended some dishes and pointed us to the summer specials, so we finally narrowed it down and ordered the spicy karaage (fried chicken), soumen (cold wheat flour noodles) with plum wasabi, and the advertised ¥80 per skewer grilled chicken with different sauces. The food was delicious and just the right portions for us to order a variety and finish everything. We ordered plum wine to go with our meal, and it was great on its own, but even more excellent with our food. The food came quickly and the waiters were eager to meet our every request. The kitchen was in plain view the entire time, with only a counter full of different drinks separating it from the customers. We could see the chef and the staff bustling around, calling out orders to each other, with loud affirmative responses.
At the end of our meal, we were able to chat with the main chef in the kitchen, who was very friendly. He showed us the charcoal grill that they use for their chicken, which looked really efficient and seemed to be a safe option compared to open flames. The chef told us that he knew of Oakhouse Kamata and enjoys when residents come and eat. So if you live in Oakhouse Kamata or are simply in the area, grab a friend or your family and make sure to check out Bincho Ohgiya in Zoshiki. They even give you a stamp card that leads to discounts once filled up, so all the more reason to go more than once!