Tengu is one of my favorite go-to izakaya chains in Japan. It may be the equivalent of T.G.I. Friday’s for all I know, but it’s friendly and comfortable, and the food is delicious. It’s a popular place for salarymen to gather after work, and the prices are reasonable, so you may encounter students there, too.
Named for the supernatural creature in Japanese folklore, the restaurant is easily recognized by its logo, which bears the creature’s long nose and mischievous smile. The name literally means “heavenly dog” (天狗) and comes from Chinese mythology. I’m not sure if the original creature had doglike features, but it actually looks like a combination of a bird and a human. Considered to be a disruptive goblin in Buddhism, over time Tengu became known as spirits that protect the mountains and forests.
Tengu the restaurant serves many of the dishes you enjoy at izakayas in New York. The menu can be a bit overwhelming because the huge selection, but you can’t go wrong with anything skewered, grilled, or fried.