Sausages are our personal weakness, and we’re in excellent company with the fellow diners at Smoky. Located on Kotto Dori, it’s hard to miss the rotund and red-capped chef mannequin cheerfully welcoming customers by the door. The restaurant has kept sausage aficionados well-fed and happy since 1982 and, judging from the packed house on a recent Wednesday evening, it’s still going strong.
We ordered a carafe of house red (¥1,500) and two half glasses of draft beer (¥420) for toasting. Appetizers (from ¥630) change regularly and the day’s offerings were wheeled to us on carts. We chose sato-imo (baby taro potatoes) roasted in their skins to silky perfection with sides of salt, pepper and a tofu-tartar sauce, along with raw mizu-nasu (water eggplant), surprisingly sweet and juicy, paired with coarse salt and anchovy sauce. In the herb salad (¥840), bitter arugula and basil were balanced with a hint of licorice.
To the main attraction: all sausages at Smoky are hand made with original recipes, without preservatives or artificial flavorings. The menu currently offers over 20 varieties, from the traditional frankfurter to creative concoctions like black sesame and the Super Smoky, a hot and spicy link that has been the top seller for 23 years.
Faced with such a slew of options, we were happy to follow our server’s recommendation and order the Smoky Best plate (¥3,360): two each of umeboshi, aojiso, garlic, Nuremberg and the aforementioned Super Smoky sausage, arranged atop a pile of pungent sauerkraut, and accompanied with sides of grainy mustard, hot chili sauce and a peppery Chinese dip. We especially loved the hint of tartness from the pickled plum and the classic flavor of the mild Nuremberg.
We couldn’t pass up the house-made Earl Grey pasta (¥1,575) and were well rewarded: thick al dente noodles (“with a back,” as the locals say) flecked with black tea leaves (which added a pleasant earthiness), bathed in a thick tomato sauce. A single order came divided up on two pre-heated plates for sharing—one of many small but gracious gestures from the staff throughout the evening.
The tea theme was reprised for dessert with a light Earl Grey cake and pumpkin pudding (each ¥525), the latter with just enough added sugar to accent its natural flavor. We were, aptly, stuffed like sausages by the end of the meal, and happy in the knowledge that there is always a place to come to when we need our next fix.