Many people, including me, agree that food is an essential aspect of getting to know a particular culture. The Japanese have a word for this (they seem to have a word for everything, don’t they?): washoku, which means “Japanese food culture”. Washoku Lovers is a community that helps people get immersed into the Japanese food culture, highly recommended for people like me who would like to know more about it but are hesitant to dive in.
Izakaya is the Japanese equivalent to an English or Irish pub, where people go after work for drinks and quick bites. I arrived at 6pm on a Wednesday night and there was already a queue of people waiting to be seated.
The bar is well stocked with sake and beer. I think there’s also wine but why would anyone order wine in an izakaya?
It was interesting to see that, even though the clientele was mixed in terms of ethnicity, it was fairly uniform in age (read: younger than me). I’d guess most of them were there for an after-work catch-up with friends, which happens to be the main purpose of an izakaya.
Service was great, friendly and helpful. Ordering is done via the quintessential touch screens.
As I was on my own I couldn’t sample as many things as I would have liked to. Luckily, there’s an assorted yakitori platter, yakitori being Japanese for “tasty grilled things on sticks” (not the proper translation). But first things first, I started dinner with one of the night’s specials: sea urchin sashimi. Raw sea urchin was a first for me and I must say it was delicious, tender and sweet. The soft, fatty texture might put off some people but I liked it.
Sea urchin sashimi ($9.80)
The yakitori platter came with the usual suspects (chicken thighs, wing, and skin), but also a few unexpected items, such as chicken soft bone (the cartilage at the end of the sternum) and chicken giblets. There were also a couple of vegetable skewers as you can see in the photos below. I was not a huge fan of the soft cooked tomatoes or the curry flavour on the chicken wing but enjoyed everything else a lot. My favourite skewers were the chicken soft bone, skin and giblets.
Assorted yakitori ($29.80)
Other items in the menu that caught my attention were the hotpots and the ark shell nigiri that was one of the specials, but I ran out of stomach capacity. I’m sure my experience would have been enhanced with company and drinks, in the spirit of the true izakaya. Next time.