Saturday, April 24, 2010
Melbourne seems to be a city full of unexpected surprises. Walk up a stingy set of stairs or down a dark alley and suddenly you come across a funky bar or an amazing restaurant. Izakaya den is one of those kinds of establishments.
Our first attempt to find the restaurant/bar was not a success. We walked along Russell street and wandered straight past it, so subtle was the sign that marked its location (see ambiguous logo below). I used to think that obscure and ambiguous signage would be the antithesis of sound business sense but this doesn't seem to be the case in Melbourne; when we descended down the stairs and walked around the corner, we were greeted with a packed venue.
As we were led to our table, I had a chance to peer over at the open grill and all the delicate morsels that make izakaya dining so much fun (even to a non-drinker like me). This place oozes style, from the plastic chopstick holders to the drinking cups (adorned with kistch cartoon figures and animal motifs).
My companions and I settled for two specials. The first was an amazing spicy tuna rice paper roll (by far my favourite item of the evening). The second was half a grilled head of kingfish (the eye was delicious). Other stuff we tried included some beautifully grilled pork belly and a melt-in-your-mouth eggplant dish. Dessert was a delectable ginger creme brulee.
All in all, I had an amazing dining experience. I'm definitely going back (assuming I can actually find the place again).