Izakaya Restaurant, which basically translates into Restaurant Restaurant, is part of the expanding ecosystem of Japanese restaurants and bars in New York City’s East Village neighborhood. The Izakaya Restaurant is run by a young Japanese guy who came to our table and explained his philosophy for restaurateur-ing and the background on all of the dishes we ordered. His “Addictive Cabbage” starter dish has garnered a lot of press and internet-love and was really quite amazing. He told us that the challenge he set himself and his cooks was to create a cabbage dish where the cabbage is not cooked or marinated. The solution was to extensively and repeatedly wash and massage the cabbage and serve it dressed in sesame oil with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. He told us that if we didn’t like the Addictive Cabbage we should just get up and walk out of his restaurant and he would understand that the cabbage was not good enough. I really enjoyed everything we had at Izakaya Restaurant and the menu is pretty deep, so there is more to go back for.
The Dumplings: The menu only lists one dumpling option, the “dumplings of the day”. The night that we went the waiter told us the dumplings were filled with tuna. In reality the dumplings were filled with lots of blue cheese and a small amount flaky tuna. These deep fried dumplings were really enjoyable, they had a strong melted blue cheese flavor with a mild undertone of tuna. Eating these dumplings was like eating a inverse fondue, the fondue cheese came inside the crispy dipping cracker. Like everything we tried, the dumplings were artfully plated and came in a wicker basket.
The Dipping Sauce: I liked the blue cheese flavor and fondue experience so much that I don’t even recall if they came with a dipping sauce.
The Location: Saint Marks Place and East Ninth Street have been home to a bunch of Japanese bars and restaurants for a long time, but for the past couple of years this hip Japan-town area has been spreading North, South and East. Izakaya Restaurant is on East Sixth Street between First and Second Avenue. The restaurant doesn’t have much in the way of signage so look for street number 326 on the south side of the street.