Daini-Chikarashuzo is one of the izakaya I recently frequent. It is located only a few minutes' walk from the JR Nakano station on the fringe of a large bar district of Nakano and in front of a super market.
To tell the truth I heard of this izakaya at a nearby restaurant Fukuda with the explanation that Fukuda is the branch of Daini-Chikarashuzo. A waitress of Daini-Chikarashuzo told me that they jointly buy ingredients but they have different cooks and consequently offer somewhat different dishes to their guests. Simply speaking Fukuda is a restaurant and Daini-Chikarashuzo is a bar. Daini-Chikarashuzo offer a wider variety of sake and shochu, while Fukuda offers more sophisticated dishes. The price level of Daini-Chikarashuzo is slightly lower than that of Fukuda; for example, five pieces of raw oyster cost 950 yen at Fukuda, but only 850 yen at Daini-Chikarashuzo.
Daini-Chikarashuzo is large for an izakaya-bar and has about 200 seats. When we enter it, we see a counter on the right and a kitchen behind it where many cooks are working. There is another square shaped on the left and there are tables behind it. Further behind there are tatami seats and some separate rooms.
This time I went to Daini-Chikarashuzo in the Christmas evening together with my wife and daughter, as my daughter wanted to eat fugu (globe fish) porridge instead of turkey for Christmas. We reserved a table and it was on tatami mats. Sitting on tatami mats make us relaxing and comfortable and I like it. However, the location of tatami mats in Daini-Chikarashuzo is too far from the kitchen to see hand-written menu papers hanging from the upper beam of the service window of the kitchen. There is a printed menu on the table, but the hand-written menus seem to be updated more frequently and reflect more updated information. I stood up to try to see the hanging menus and ordered a few dishes from them.
Service staffs of Daini-Chikarashuzo are mostly women in their mature age and wear white coverall apron. I find it comfortable to have service by well experienced people and I was very happy with the woman in charge of our table. The other day when I visited Daini-Chikarashuzo with friends, we were treated by a part-time waitress: a Myanmar girl. Nowadays, it is common to see part time Chinese service staffs not only in Chinese restaurants but also in convenience stores and popular bars and restaurants in general. However, I had never seen a Myanmar girl in such kind of bars before. Anyhow, she was simple and unaffected and tried her best to give us good service though she had still certain difficulty in language and diverse fish names, and we were all very positively impressed by her personality. I thought that on the job training is important also for service staffs in addition to their personal disposition.
There is not a very big selection of sake and shochu in Daini-Chikarashuzo. However, their choice of sake and shochu is very interesting and most of them are not known to me but taste well. Their fish dishes are really excellent. The stuff is fresh and well prepared; in particular their grilled and boiled fishes are really tasty. I am also happy with their tsukidashi (obligatory hors d'oeuvre): cooked vegetable. It is unusual to have such a large portion for tsukidashi, but the vegetable is well cooked and I often order eggplant separately.
By the way, many Japanese people have difficulty in reading the name, as the Chinese character "chikara" looks almost similar to "ka" of katakana. People might call it therefore Dai-nika-shuzo or Daini-Rikishuzo. But they are all wrong. We should say Daini-Chikarashuzo, which means "Second Chikara Brewery", but I still do not know where "First Chikara Brewery" is.