January 7, 2010

Izakaya Den

Basement, 114 Russell Street,
Melbourne, VIC 3000
(03) 9654 2977
Food: Modern Japanese, Bar
Website: www.izakayaden.com.au
Date visited: 6th January 2010

I am very happy today! I've found a favourite dining spot! :) It is the new Izakaya Den. This wonderous eatery is reminiscent of a Japanese-style tapas bar, encouraging diners to order from an extensive list of imported beers, sake, plum wine and liquors while sharing mouth-watering dishes. 'Izakaya' is actually Japanese for a street-food stall for quick snacking and drinking. This phenomenon of casual dining, often at communal tables, is picking up in Melbourne, and I'm eager to discover what other places are yet to emerge.

It is very easy to miss the entrance of Izakaya Den, marked only by a camouflaging sign printed with 'Den' and the Japanese Kanji word for 'Izakaya.' After descending a set of wooden stairs and turning left through glass sliding doors, we were immediately greeted by a waiter, who kindly seated us at one of the high black tables in the elongated basement. Within these initial few moments, we were already in awe of the scene unveiling before our eyes.

Dark, cutting-edge furnishings filled the interior; Funky, urban music was pumping through the speakers; Diners were abuzz with conversation over drinks and dishes of Japanese food; Waiters, dressed in black, were discreetly moving about; and the day's specials were projected onto the wall in flashes of light and colour. Best of all, Japanese chefs, in black attire and flashy bandannas were situated at their cooking stations busily preparing food to order, the source of the heavenly aroma wafting through the air.

Everybody has a clear view of the them, charcoal grilling morsels of ox tongue and quail, stir-frying mushrooms, expertly slicing tuna fillets into sashimi and adding the final touches of wispy spring onion to dishes. It is such a great concept, being able to watch your order go through to the chefs and see every move they make to perfect your dish before it is served. The menu is incredibly refined with pure, clean flavours of elegant simplicity. All the dishes we ordered tasted sensational, it really is a challenge to pick a fault in the experience. Izakaya Den is what the Melbourne vibe is all about. Highly recommended!

 Fresh Salmon Roll, Pickled Kombu and Ponzu - it may sound crazy, but these tiny bite-sized pieces of heaven were so good it felt like they melted in my mouth as we devoured them!

Tuna Tataki with Garlic Soy - the three along the right are served on a spicy mayo, whereas the three behind are on a bed of wasabi-spiced mayo.

Ox Tongue with Spring Onion - By far the best tasting ox tongue I have eaten - thick and tender slices that ooze with juice at every bite.

Sesame Stir-fried Japanese Mushrooms - This dish was prepared directly in front of us. I watched as the chef browned the tofu, then added the king oyster mushrooms, followed by the shiitake, enoki and black fungus, which were expertly flambeed together.

Jumbo Quail with Sansho Pepper - This was served with garlic shoots, pickled in black vinegar that perfectly complimented the earthy, charcoal flavours of the quail.

Fuji Apple Millefeuille - Delicate, deep-fried layers of Fuji apple with bursts of refreshing apple sorbet

Ginger Creme Brulee - with a candied ginger garnish. Subtle notes of ginger through a smooth and creamy custard.


amanda - stwbry said...

ooooooo this place looks pretty! i wanna try! ^______^

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