After discovering a sensitivity to rice I cut back a little on my sushi outings. Sad but luckily there are rice-free options in sushi restaurants and there is a new crop of Japanese ‘farmhouse’ restaurants featuring even more rice-free options.
Izakaya is one of the new “farmhouse” entries and I’m happy to say, excellent across board.
Casual anime chic, I suppose. Polished concrete floors and walls surrounding raised booths, big anime murals in the brightest of colours. We were late in the lunch cycle so it wasn’t busy, making conversation pleasant. However, I’ve seen this place mobbed beyond capacity on Saturday night.
Edamame. Use caution if you are hot pepper sensitive. I loved the super spicy version with soy-ginger-garlic sauce but my lunch partners were eating one or two, smile-turned-surprise, then gulping down a quart of water.
Scallop Banh Mi. Open faced scallop banh was good as well as creative. Nice sized scallops, lightly marinated in a fish sauce base then seared, placed atop a pillowy French bread round. Cilantro, julienned carrots, peppers and radish mixed and topped to finish the assembly. Good mix of salty and herbal which, surprisingly, did not detract from the flavour of the scallops.
Snapper Crudo. Snapper sliced thinly, topped with extra virgin, ground pistachios and quartered grapes. Simple flavours which work surprisingly well together without muddling the flavour of the snapper.
Wasabi Beef Skewers. You can’t go wrong with skirt steak strip marinated in a sweet soy then grilled to crispy-out, juicy-in texture topped sparingly with wasabi.
Gelatinous Peach Sake. OK, this was not what I would call good, however I would still recommend you try it once as a rite of passage. Sake mixed with gelatin, peach flavouring and something carbonated. Its a chewy, bubbly, whirlwind on your tongue and just its plain weird. It comes in a can and our server tried to pour it out but it had to be coaxed out like ketchup from of a bottle.
Consider it a conversation piece.
Its a little pricey. Three small ‘tapas’ plates and a weird sake drink – $45. The quality is excellent, however.
Very friendly and efficient with good knowledge of the offerings but they lean a little towards overselling. Quick turnaround but we were on the late side of lunch with only three other tables in play.
I’ll definitely be back to try some of the other offerings, perhaps at a busier time to see how the crowd and atmosphere evolve.
The peach-gelatin sake will not be on the menu.
Lunch: April 2016
Izakaya| 318 Gray | HTX 77002