The menu at an izakaya may be confusing to Americans at first, especially since the word is typically translated to mean "bar" or "tavern". But while the focus may be on the sake, the food is a diverse array of dishes including tofu, grilled seafood, noodle bowls and deep-fried octopus balls. "It's supposed to be a kind of casual place to eat and drink. But since it's Japan, everything comes out beautiful and elegant anyway," said Eric Bromberg, who operates Blue Ribbon Izakaya and Sushi on New York City's Lower East Side.

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