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.
*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/)
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)
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.
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.
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: