串 kushi: skewer. The kanji even looks like a skewer, so easy to remember!

串屋: kushi-ya, the place where you will find grilled or fried skewered food. Kushi-yaki 串焼き is grilled, kushi-katsu 串カツ is fried. Similarly, there is 焼き鳥 yakitori which is grilled chicken and 炭火焼き sumibi-yaki which is charcoal grilled foods. All of these tend to mean skewered food in different variations.

In my opinion, these tend to be great drinking establishments; you can order individual sticks and small dishes over the course of the night.

Even though I do not eat meats, there are often times many other types of skewers and side dishes I can eat. Commonly you will find shiitake mushrooms, onions, shishitou peppers, garlic, potato, corn, tofu, ginkgo nuts, eggplant, lotus root… I also like edamame to snack on, and most establishments will serve you cabbage with tare (たれ sauce). My husband likes the spicy cucumber pickles, too.

The kushi-katsu are fried, so this can be a little bit heavy while drinking. But fried foods and beer do seem to go well together. One of my favorites is 紅生姜 benishouga (pickled ginger). It sounds a little odd, deep-fried pickled ginger, but give it a try! Something about the flavor is really good to me. I always order it when we go to fried skewer restaurants.

There are even some chains that do all-you-can-eat kushi-katsu where you fry at your table! You get a plate and pick up the foods you want (meats, fish, vegetables, etc) and bring it back to you table, slather in batter and go. I warn you, you will smell like a fry pit when you leave; luckily they have storage underneath you seats for any jackets, purses, etc to protect them from the smell. It is a unique and fun experience, though, so try it out when you are in Japan.

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