Earlier this year, we discovered a handy kitchen gadget called the Senbero Maker, which takes its name from sen, the Japanese word for “1,000”, and bero bero, the word for “drunk”. Putting the two expressions together as “Senbero” describes a cheap 1,000 yen drinking session, which you can usually get at a casual izakaya pub, and this Senbero Maker lets you recreate that jolly experience from the comfort of your very own home.
One of the great things about eating out at an izakaya is the variety of freshly cooked small dishes you can order to accompany your drinks, and the enticing aromas that emanate from the cooking area. Recreating the meals and the experience at home is usually a near-impossible task, as you’d need to master a number of cooking methods and invest in a lot of cooking equipment, but the Senbero Maker promises to make it super easy, by including everything you need in one gadget.
▼ The set even comes with a tokkuri sake bottle and ochokko sake cup.
The only thing you need to provide is the food and drinks, which is easy when you can find a selection of meals like this at the supermarket that basically require heating.
▼ In honor of the Senbero, our drink and food purchases amounted to no more than 1,000 yen.
The first step to recreating our izakaya at home involved putting the gadget together, which was surprisingly quick and easy. There’s a wide grill for cooking yakitori chicken skewers, a large pot for stewing oden, a smaller grill for roasting small snacks, and a small pot for making hot sake.
The Senbero Maker is small enough to fit easily on a dining table, and it’s all-electric so you just have to plug it in and switch it on.
The first thing we did was prepare some hot sake, known as atsukan, by filling the bottle with sake and placing it in water in the special pot provided for it. Along with beer, atsukan is one of the most popular drinks at an izakaya, and seeing it being prepared this way really made us feel like we were out at a Japanese-style pub.
▼ Next to our sake, on the small grilling plate, we placed a cube of fried tofu.
While we waited for our first course to be ready, we prepared some small plates, and even gave ourselves an otoshi starter made up of simmered soybeans and hijiki seaweed, and kiriboshi daikon, preserved daikon radish.
▼ Check out this spread.
The atsukan got us in the mood to start cooking in earnest, so after we’d enjoyed a couple of cups with our otoshi and fried tofu, which had a spectacular, slightly charred flavor, we added some more ingredients to the cooker.
▼ The oden turned out fantastic, and the large pot it was cooked in keeps the food warm for a long time, allowing you to pick at it throughout the meal.
▼ The wide grill turned our cob of corn into a pub-worthy meal, grilling it to perfection.
The grill was one of our favourite parts of the whole experience, as it imparted a delicious, seared flavour to everything, without burning it to a crisp as it might in the hands of a non-professional on a charcoal grill.
▼ Much tastier than heating things up in the microwave.
The real highlights came towards the end of the meal, when we opened our can of beer and breathed in the fantastic aromas of grilled meat.
▼ No izakaya experience is complete without a serving of karaage fried chicken.
Grilling the shumai dumplings turned out to be an absolute taste sensation. They were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, and it took a lot of self-control to not eat all 15 of these in one sitting.
Seeing as we hadn’t eaten everything we’d bought, we figured it would still be within our budget to finish off the meal with some yakitori skewered meats. The grill fit five skewers at a time, which really filled us up, and they were grilled to perfection, leaving us smacking our lips with satisfaction at the end of our izakaya experience.
Priced at around 6,000 yen, and available through online sites like Rakuten and Amazon, the Senbero Maker is a gadget worth investing in. Not only is it incredibly easy to use, the results are fantastic, and it’s a dream come true for izakaya lovers who’ve been avoiding eating out during the pandemic.
Plus, when you’ve got your own izakaya at home, you’re able to really kick your shoes off and relax, and not worry about all the izakaya rules and etiquette you have to follow when dining outdoors.
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