After Hours: Ohashi is warm and classy all at once
January 25, 2007
MISAWA, Japan — Let’s face it: There aren’t many restaurants in Misawa where you might feel awkward dining out for the evening in jeans and a T-shirt. This is northern Japan, where in winter, big, burly coats and rubber snow boots are fashion staples.
But step into Japanese restaurant Ohashi — be sure to slip your shoes off in the foyer — and Misawa’s rough edges quickly fade away.
Ohashi, which means “chopsticks” in Japanese, exudes warmth. It feels at once upscale yet homey, like a cozy Japanese abode lavished with wood and aglow with soft lighting.
“The concept of our restaurant is the warmth of wood,” said manager Yasuyuki Ebisawa, noting the restaurant’s open kitchen with a counter that surrounds the irori, a traditional Japanese fireplace.
Despite its rustic elements, Ohashi feels high-class, said Roseanne Williams, 20, a senior airman from Misawa Air Base. It’s a refreshing change from Misawa’s “country feel,” she said.
Williams was seated around the irori on a recent Sunday evening with a group of 14 Americans. The experienced Ohashi diner had organized the outing to celebrate the 21st birthday of her husband, Airman 1st Class Joshua Williams.
“This is one of our favorites,” she said of the restaurant, while flitting from couple to couple to assist with menu selections.
The dinner menu, at first glance, is a bit intimidating. It’s in Japanese and English, divided into numerous sections, from “house recipes” to “on a skewer” selections. Food items on average cost from 400 to 700 yen (about $3.30 to $5.80). You typically order several items, Williams said, and it’s more fun to share with someone else.
“We mostly eat a little bit of everything,” she said, choosing at least one meat, vegetable and appetizer.
The tab can quickly add up, Williams said — she and her husband usually spend about $70 on dinner. And that’s without a kid.
Couples with kids will likely score with the kid’s meal — dished up in a red airplane — for 820 yen (about $7).
Ebisawa, the manager, said customer favorites are the charcoal-grilled meats, shish kebabs and yakitori. Popular among Americans, he said, are the grilled beefsteak on a plate made from volcanic rocks. About 30 to 40 percent of Ohashi’s customers are foreigners, he said.
Plan ahead — reservations are recommended, especially for weekend dining.
Stars and Stripes reporter Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this story.
See previous After Hours reviews here.
Hours: Open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily except Sundays and holidays — but will serve lunch seven days a week beginning Feb. 1. Open for dinner seven days a week, On weekdays 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and until midnight Fridays, Saturdays and on evenings before holidays.
Prices: Drinks cost 400 to 500 yen, on average. Dinner selections — plan on ordering several — range from about 400 to 700 yen. Salads, veggies, meat dishes, a kid’s meal and dessert are available.
Specialties: Customer favorites include charcoal-grilled meats, shish kebabs and yakitori.
Menu: Currently in Japanese and English. A new English menu will be available Feb. 1 with photographs of all items.
Dress: Casual is OK for lunch, with dinner a bit more dressy — i.e. sharp casual.
Clientele: All ages; about 30 to 40 percent are Americans and other foreigners.
Location: Go straight from Misawa Air Base main gate; turn right at the second traffic light next to city hall; take a right at the Y-intersection after the Suzuki clinic; restaurant is down the hill on the left.
Web site: None.