If you read the blog in December then you will know that I had a Christmas dinner at Izaka-Ya with my colleagues from my Japanese Class. Well, for a special occasion we decided to visit this restaurant once again and test more extensively what they had to offer.
But first, do you know what an Izakaya is? In Japan, it is the equivalent to our European pubs, brasseries and tapas shops aka they serve food but also lots of alcohol. It's usually a good place for an after work, to enjoy a drink among friends and colleagues or a quick bite. It's a great choice if, like us, you want to spend a relaxed evening sampling a variety of Japanese dishes (Tapas like!).
I must admit that helping everyone decide what to order was tough mainly because not everyone spoke French or Japanese but also because Japanese food can sometimes be very strange...Just think about the yakitori's you know so well and try to imagine a chicken kidney variation or chicken skin. See what I mean? This is not a Halloween menu, these are Japanese delicacies.
So once we got everyone's orders and provided the long list to the waiters we enjoyed a first round of drinks but the courses arrived very fast. I guess we should have specified what was a starter and what was a main course because a bit of everything arrived at the same time: Yakisoba, Omurice, Sashimi, Katsu curry and more...at that moment, we didn't know that we are in a real Izakaya hence the mess with the orders...but I will share with you what we tested in an orderly manner after a short note...
Note: Now don't be surprised by the pace at which you are served, it's typical for any Izakaya for several reasons: the amount of items on the menu; the food arrives when it is ready and not all together like in Western restaurants; and finally in an Izakaya food is ordered over several courses. Remember, you are in Japanese tavern, things don't work the same way as in a European restaurant...It's an experience ;)
Obviously when you visit Izaka-Ya you should order some sashimi as this restaurant hosts a Sushi & Sashimi Master. So we ordered the Tuna, Salmon and some fish I can't remember the name of and all were delicious, fresh and neatly presented. We also choose to have yakitori assortments and a few more specific skewers to try (kidney for example).
Most of the skewers are quite "normal": shrimp, mushroom, cheese & bacon but some are more elaborate such as the ones mentioned previously: chicken kidney & heart, chicken skins & cartilage, to only name a few. You may feel rebuffed by these skewers but this is where you really start tasting the Japanese cuisine, plus you don't have to order many...One of each is enough to try ;)
The next round of dishes included the infamous Okonomiyaki (aka Japanese Pizza) and calamari rings cooked in a delicious juice...I should have ordered more of these but with everything we ate that night, it was impossible!! Next time I am certain to take the calamari and so should you, they're divine.
Now the main courses were quite different from the usual Ramen and Sushi rolls you can order in other restaurants. I am always happy to find typical Japanese dishes at Izaka-Ya, including the Omurice, Yakisoka, Katsu Curry or Nabeyaki udon and even Oyako don which is very simple but delicious dish that I love. The noodles were particulary tasty and a real mix of flavours, I need to learn to make such a delicious broth!!
Obviously this is more or less what we ordered and couldn't finish despite the big eaters we had at our table...I guess rice and noodles will fill the most stubborn stomachs / hungriest boys out there. You may have read in a previous post the following thoughts "when you have tried a dish in its original country, you won't be fully satisfied with it served elsewhere even though the cook is from that country"... Well Izaka-Ya is one of the exceptions I think...The cooks are Japanese and doing wonders to serve the best Japanese food possible, closest to what you can expect to munch in Tokyo or any other Nip' city.
Once again, I would recommend to book a table in advance, Izaka-Ya is always packed and even more on weekends.
Another thing that might interest you is that there is a karaoke room downstairs, reserved for Japanese clients who wants to sing :) Gaijin can obviously book the room for a certain price...Ask the boss for it ;)