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Food

Japanese Flavors for Frenchmen Nights

It’s Jazz Fest time, so odds are good you’re going to end up on Frenchmen Street. During the fest, I tend to just soak in the atmosphere and the sounds from the street instead of to entering just one place. A place I will always step into, show or no show, is Yuki Izakaya; a great place for a drink, a post-show hangout, or to grab a quick bite before heading farther into the Bywater.

Yuki’s layout features a long bar, with a few smaller tables set aside in an open-doored, adjacent room. Sake, shochu, and beer are featured, but there are also a variety of unique cocktails. Old Japanese movies are often projected onto the wall whose subtitles give you a chance to understand why those pesky villagers need so many samurai. Much of the décor features posters for dated Japanese pulp films featuring film stills equal parts noir and erotic, of gunmen, swordfighters, and ever-helpless women. The bar can get cramped if there’s a dance party involved, but I’d rather too many dancers than too few.

The menu is Japanese based and tapas in style, and is great to pick from en masse to share with a group of friends. The kitchen stays open late, so it can be a lifesaver for you and whoever else has endured. It features a wide variety of dishes ranging from sashimi to fried spring rolls, with varying specials for the food-curious. Vegetable Gyoza, and the “basque inspired” Snowcrab Pinxto (I’m tempted by the exoticism of anything Basque inspired) are a couple of my favorites.

I’ve taken to bringing a revolving pick of my friends every Sunday for Vegetable Udon, Sapporo, and Luke Winslow-King. Winslow-King is a Michigan transplant who plays a mix of his own delta/country blues and New Orleans jazz-inspired songs, along with a selection of covers and standards. His looks are more polished than your typical Marigny-musician, but his slide guitar playing sounds at home on the corners of Royal Street. The music shares little with the electronic-based music spun here on most nights (Thurs-Sat), but the atmosphere is relaxed and delta blues couldn’t seem more natural for Frenchmen Street’s Japanese bar.

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