According to mythology, Tanuki was a raccoon-faced dog disguised as a buddhist priest who had an inordinate capacity to drink sake and only appeared rainy moonless nights.Loving that mythology, I just had to explore a restaurant called Tanuki's Cave.
Take the stairs that descend into the cavernous depths of this upper Queen Street restuarant and you too can be in the surrounds of Tanuki's Cave — a lively Izakaya style eating house. Izakaya originated from sake shops in Japan which allowed their customers to enjoy a bite to eat whilst sampling the sake.
Pull up a stool around the central bar and you will be served up a storm of Yakitori — meat and vegie on a stick. Every meat and vegie you can imagine will be tastily grilled and lightly charcoaled before you, typically two sticks per plate. The best idea is to order many and keep them coming. Tanuki's Cave is not a place to come if you are craving a salad as the endless combinations of food to try — kumara wrapped in bacon aka 'sweaty pig', sirloin steak with soy, Japanese meatballs — the menu is all encompassing.
We couldn't go past the intriguing desserts — warmed rounds of lightly spiced kumara coated in crispy almonds with vanilla ice cream — it may sound strange to most, but it was delicious.
Tanuki's Cave is now a city icon and popular eating-place/sake house popular among young professionals and students all nights of the week, either for a quick bite before the cinema or a friendly catch-up.
Tanuki's Cave is well worth the visit down the stairs to explore this inexpensive, tasty and cheerful Japanese eating experience.
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