Culver City: Checking Out the Sake and Japanese Food at Harajuku Taproom
I came across Harajuku Taproom a few months ago but finally had a chance to visit recently.
I got a sake sampler. I had the house select my three as I’m always interested in learning about new sakes.
Taka Tokubetsu – Noble Arrow – great minerality
Kanbara – Bride of the Fox – a tiny bit sweet, this was my favorite
Bushido – Way of the Warrior – easy drinking
The stuffed shishito peppers are vegan! They are stuffed with Impossible “meat” which is mostly wheat and potato proteins. After I first tried Impossible meat substitute, I hadn’t had it since (yes, hardcore carnivore here). I enjoyed the shishito peppers. Perhaps just a bit too much.
I ate the assorted pickles by myself. Well, almost all of it. Not only did it have radish and regular pickles but this trio included an interesting pickled eggplant.
We got the pork gyoza because I reasoned there would be a lot of seafood. Later as I was thinking about the stuffed shishito peppers and my weakness, ground pork, I would not have minded it the dumplings were made with a meat substitute. Those shishito peppers made me a believer!
My friend had gotten to Harajuku a bit earlier than me (she was early and I was on time!) so she got a couple of items from the happy hour menu including sauce that had been cut and fried to look like octopus and fried chicken.
The fried chicken (karaage) seemed a bit dry to me. The pieces weren’t too meaty either. I’d stick to the cute octopus/sausage next time.
After consulting with our server, we chose the Stinky roll. It’s a fairly straightforward roll of crab and topped with seared albacore. What made it decadent was the butter sauce. I also liked the crispy onions and garlic chips which enhanced how savory the roll was. We also had considered the Ecstasy or the Psycho Rudy rolls. Both seemed to come with more typical sauces so that’s why I thought the Stinky roll with butter sauce was unique.
After a bunch of appetizers, I wanted a comforting bowl of miso soup. I was delighted to find some nice crumbly home-made tasting tofu tucked into the soup.
One of the board specials was the soft shell crab salad. I liked the dressing on the salad and thought the soft shell crab was well fried.
The best skewer was the pork belly set. Juicy and meaty, these were further enhanced with a sprinkle of togarashi (chili powder).
I had the gizzards and hearts from the adventurous menu. I was a little bummed out to realize both the gizzards and hearts were on one skewer.
I spotted eggplant with miso which is one of my favorite ways to eat eggplant. Though let’s be clear, I’m an eggplant fan. But truly, this was a good dish.
My friend had the chicken skin and tails skewers from the adventurous menu.
I assume it was all super awesome because when I looked, both were polished off.
Harajuku features Japanese craft beer. I tried the red rose ale from Baird Beer from the Shizouka prefecture of Japan.
When I don’t drink dark beer, I go to red ales. This one was very good.
I did taste my friend’s beer sample — she like me also enjoy dark beers. She liked the Yabai Yabai Strong Scotch ale as well as the Dark Sky Imperial stout. Both are from Baird Beer.
I actually didn’t try the corn but thought about it. By the time I was ready to order it, I was quite full. Next time!