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Eating My Way Through Sendai

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Tsuda Sengyo-ten Izakaya

Tsuda Sengyo-ten Izakaya

At night, we went to an amazing local izakaya (Japanese-style pub) that specializes in seafood and fish you can cook on a small charcoal grill. This style of cooking is called robata-yaki (炉端焼き) or simply robata.

As we walked into Tsuda Sengyo-ten, we could feel the spirit of Sendai from all the patrons there. The place was buzzing with energy and chatting, as to be expected from a bar or pub. But the staff shouting orders back and forth and heartily greeting customers as they walked in was very joyful. All of the food was delicious, though obviously there were some foods that weren't for everyone (such as the above-mentioned shirako).

Scallops (ほたて・hotate) were also a popular dish at this izakaya. Many of the locals had this setup at their tables, baking the freshly caught mollusks still in the shell—the shells were placed on top of aluminium foil rings—and we were recommended to try them with butter and soy sauce. It was a wise choice!

However, for me, the highlight was being able to scoop out fresh tuna directly from the ribs of the fish. I never knew that was possible, and you just couldn't get fresher fish than that. It was incredible!

Another great moment was participating in the fish auction. At 7:30 p.m., the staff took bids on two fish that the restaurant would then prepare to-order for the winning table. After watching the first auction, I wanted to win the second one.

And we did! The top prize was ours for ¥2,030 (US$18.54). Once our dish was delivered, I went about the restaurant sharing our sashimi with the patrons, taking pictures with them and getting to know them.

They were so friendly and gracious, and I could easily see how they could visit that izakaya over and over. It was like home, and we felt completely welcome—truly exemplifying the Japanese ideal of hospitality, or omotenashi.