Monday, March 22, 2010

Izakaya Rising

The latest thing in Japanese food at the mo' is Izakaya. It's been heavily documented in the press recently and I'm very late into the game, but we got our chance last night to kick it to Maedaya Sake and Grill to get involved. For those not in the know, Izakaya is pretty much after-work drinks with hot tasty snacks; a great, and very accessible concept.

Well, we rocked up without a booking and got shunted upstairs to a nice table in a relatively rowdy Japanese student-filled-with-sake kinda space - with loads of smoke billowing off the table grills and a nice sense of organised chaos. The guys looking after us were lovely however, and managed to convey enough information to aid in the navigation of what...six menus!?

There's nothing quite like simply going for it when ordering in places like this, and soon enough we were surrounded by tea, over-colourful mixed drinks with odd names, sake (although they wouldn't let me order any Daiginjo sake (the nuts) which is a privilege reserved for people sitting downstairs annoyingly), pickled beans, spicy cabbage, soba noodle salad and our own smouldering grill.

The idea here obviously is to get your cook on, and we happily seared away at beef rib, pork loin, chicken thighs and various vegetables, while having oodles of fun coming up with custom blends from all the delicious complementary sauces. Team Joe and Becky dropped the best combo with a tasty and simple blend of creamy sesame and teriyaki which was perfect with the beef rib!

Anyway, we had a great night, with great banter - although you need to be prepared to do a great deal of cooking because the grills don't hold much (only if shunted upstairs!) and just a dash of drama too: A couple of lightweight kids at the next table were pounding the sake, and by the time we were waving the signature gesture, they were literally on the floor with large scale vomit inclusive - which is an abrupt and pretty sobering end (well, for us) to a dining experience! All in all pretty good, but come on guys where's the RSA!?

We're forgiving types and one ball-drop isn't enough to keep us away, and we left feeling buoyant enough to venture onward for cognac, coffee and cake - not an easy combo to find on a fresh Monday night in Melbourne!

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