In a dimly lit Tokyo pub, between hand-labelled bottles of "shochu" liquor and rickety wooden benches, Kunihiko Saiki serves up kingfish and snapper sashimi, tender squid tentacles and deep-fried tofu.
Izakaya-the Japanese Pub Cookbook celebrates these unlikely foodie haunts and their cuisine which combine shochu-soaked anecdotes and pen portraits of izakaya chefs with recipes for their tasty snacks and appetizers.
This new book is exploring the lesser-known corners of the food scene in Tokyo. Izakaya pubs produce a dazzling array of small dishes out of tiny, cramped kitchens.
This food fits into a global trend towards fine dining in a casual and late-night setting. It is more varied than standard gastro pub fare and cheaper than sushi at a restaurant.
Izakaya food is similar to tapas in eating style. It is ordered as a broad, random selection, from glazed chicken meatballs to boiled broad beans to spinach with sesame sauce.
The chefs are also extremely shrewd in the way they choose and prepare their ingredients, not letting a single scrap go to waste while preparing superb dishes that will entice customers to come back for more.
While izakaya chefs tend to eschew publicity this lends to the hidden and underground feel of these pubs. For adventurous diners, this is the ultimate culinary experience.