[BUT CAN MY KID GET SOME SUSHI?] Tanuki likes to build its identity on what it's not. Per a sign on the Montavilla izakaya's door: "THIS IS NOT A JAPANESE RESTAURANT. You should go slap the fool that told you those lies." Fair enough. We'll simply describe Tanuki as a dimly lit Eden of phenomenally explosive flavors and more sake varieties than you can imagineâtechnically, it's licensed as a sake market. Opt for omakase, which allows you to set a per-person price between $15 and $30âeveryone in your group must go inâand enjoy the spoils of Janis Martin's two-hot-plate kitchen. It unfolds as a somewhat erratically timed parade, with a server dropping off dishes accompanied by a torrent of words: baked trout, nori butter, beef cheeks, braised bitter greens, teriyaki chicken, fermented peanuts, octopus, hamachi, crab claws. You're left gaping at a half-dozen plates, trying to remember what's what but not really caring, as the flavors of soy, sesame, garlic, seaweed and ginger detonate in your mouth. Think slow-cooked Korean brisket with sugar snap peas and fresh corn, shiver-inducing oysters with kimchee shaved ice, and addictive, sweet-salty-chewy squid jerky. This is drinking food, best paired with a liter of Asahi, a soju cocktail or something off the mile-long sake menu. DÃ©cor and entertainment come in the form of pinup posters, pinball machines and anime porn on the TV. But don't allow those amenities to let you forget the rules: no kids, no sushi, no split checks, no parties larger than four and don't even think about requesting substitutions. REBECCA JACOBSON.
Show up early. At $15-$30, omakase gets you a ton of food, but it sometimes runs out if you get there after 8 pm. Or, show up at happy hour (5-6:30 pm) for $2 Sapporo, $3 shochu margaritas, $1 edamame and two beef kimchee hot dogs for $3.
5-10 pm Thursday-Saturday. $-$$$.
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