May 31, 2013

Izakaya the "social sushi" house at JW Marriott Marquis, Dubai

Upon arrival at this funky Japaneses concept, we were warmly greeted by the hostess and friendly members of staff.  They walked us into the nicely lit restaurant,with eye catching wall hangings and cool colored cusions.  It almost felt as if we stepped into a night club, as everything from the walls to table and chairs were black in color, illuminated by a green colored backdrop and not to mention the costume clad servers all wearing mis matched shoes! The most colorful of them all was the signature, "wasabi girl" who wore a blue/greenish colored wig, green dress, and striped knee high socks! It was a feast for the eyes.....

As we casually walked to our table, all the service staff shouted and welcomed us from across the dining room.  We sat down, and the hostess explained that "Izakaya" dining is all about the atmosphere.  Everyone in the rstaurant engages with the guests to make it an all around lively experience, and that it was.
 The menu was extensive and contained everything from Sushi to Teppanyaki, Robatayaki, Noodles and Rice, and Tempura of course!  Spoilt for choice, we started with some appetizers and the quintessential edamame are a standard part of any Japanese order.  Izakaya served up 3 varieties, a plain, sea salt, and curried which was my favorite.
 Also included in the starters was the tuna tataki, executed beautifully and perfectly balanced, this little bite covered all the bases.  The lightly seared tuna, with a dallop of avocado, a dash of fresh wasabi, garlic chips, prepared *"Zuke" style topped with Ikura or Salmon roe. 

*In the old days when refrigerators were not around, many sushi chefs immersed their raw sashimi in soy sauce for a few hours, so the sodium prevented the sushi from spoiling too quickly. This is called the zuke method and it is an old fashioned preparation.  (http://www.sushiencyclopedia.com/blog/2007/10/09/soaked-fish/)
 For comparison purposes, we also ordered the "Beef tataki" wrapped vegetables with a mustard sauce. The glistening rare rolls of meat arrived at the table, and my mouth started to water. Those perfectly pounded out slices of beef wrapped delicately around the julliened vegetables were prepared meticulously.  The mustard sauce served with them, was concentrated and really packed a punch, Imuch prefered the tataki on there own, with the sublte ginger and soy accents.
 This next dish was recommended by our server, is the hotest ticket item on the menu, and when it arrived at the table, I knew why! Initially turned off by the name, *"Okonomiyaki" a traditional Japanese pancake, I was expecting something very generic. On the contrary, this dish was far from ordinary, it was ALIVE, literally.  Topped with Bonito flakes (Katsuobushi), the hot savory pancakes danced before our eyes.

(*The batter is made of flour, grated nagaimo (a type of  yam), water or dashi, eggs and shredded cabbage, and usually contains other ingredients such as green onion, meat, octopus, squid, shrimp, vegetable, kimchi, mochi, or cheese. Okonomiyaki is sometimes compared to an omlette or a pancake and may be referred to as a "Japanese pizza" or "Osaka soul food : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okonomiyaki)
We order a mix of Nigiri, rolls, and sushi to understand the range of the sushi master's skill, and I am happy to report they were up to standard. I ordered the Volcano hand roll which consisted of salmon, avocado, tobiko, and siracha.  Overwhelming full of flavor and texture, I enjoyed this roll, but found, as most handrolls go, it was pretty to look at, but  messy to eat.  The yellowtail was as fresh as could be, and the Unagi as always was smothered with a sweet Japanese BBQ sauce, which I have grown to love.
And of course if there is an order of sushi on the table, there will be wasabi!  Izakaya has gone as far as keeping a member of staff solely dedicated to the task of bringing this fresh Japanese horseradish to each and every diner in their establishment.  In addition to this cool and quirky touch, they have also created a video that hit the social media scene when the restaurant first launched.  JW Marriott Marquis is in tune and up to speed with all matters of on-line trends that not only boost the business, but give it credibility in the on-line market which has a much further reach than traditional forms of media.   


Tempura is another one of those dishes I hestitate to order, under the pretense that I will be eating something boring.  Izakaya did it again with a very "uncommon" presentation by keeping everything authentic.  Served with green tea powder, grated daikon, and Japanese pepper all provided as condiments and flavor enhancers to the common bowl  of tentsuyu you will often find served along side any tempura, my taste buds were heightened by all the additional compenents to this mix of deep fried items. 
In the interest of comparison, I had to order the miso cod.  All too frequently found on menus across the globe, and especially here in Dubai, it is a go to item for most people.  As this fish dish goes, it's open to any chefs interpretation, and varies in execution and presentation.  Izakaya proved to keep thing authentic with the artful Japanese approach of cooking and presentation in this entree, which was not only visually stunning, but also tasty.  The miso and sweet mirin flavor was rather sublte in this version of the dish, but I also think becuase of the various components and pairings it was served with, it had to be.  The thinly sliced pepper strings,dehydrated fish skin, Ginkgo nuts, and Daikon all added somehting unusual to the texture and final outcome of this cod.
 Last but certainly not the least is the dessert.  From my past experience with Asian style desserts, I have not particularly enjoyed much of anything besides Mochi and the occassional green tea ice cream.  That being said, green tea has recently been taking the world by storm as it is now available in may various forms from lattes and milk shakes, and now, even in a cake.  Green Tea Tiramisu is a fusion of cuisine and technique, and it does so beautifully in this well comprised sweet.  Creamy, sweet, tart, and delicous, it hits all the right notes for an unusual confectionary item. 
Izakaya is funky and an all around treat, the staff and ambiance make this restaurant concept worth the visit.  We had a lovely eating and although ate extensively, didn't leave feeling uncomfortable, just pleansantly full. 

For more information, check out the Izakaya website by clicking below:

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2 comments:

  1. Sushi Food is really amazing. You blog post tells that you are in love with sushi food. Everyone has their own taste of food. Mine favorite food is Italian Food at CioccolatItaliani Restaurant " Best Restaurants in Dubai "

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