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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bites: Izakaya Sakura @ Northbridge

Standing where a previous Izakaya restaurant once stood, Izakaya Sakura is the successor to Ayami which despite is decent quality food and excellent service,  did not stay for long.  Stepping inside with the little darling, I find that little has change since my visit last year.  The decor, the sitting layout, and even the bar still sits on the same spot as it was during Ayami.  Putting that aside, upon our arrival, the prompt service by the waitress was welcoming as she reviewed our booking and brought us to our sits. 


Izakaya Sakura


After spending just moment on our seat, the waitress presented us with 3 miniature bowls filled with cold appetizers.  Each were $3 and so we decided to take 2 out of the lot.


The potato salad was nice, clean and refreshing unlike its western counterpart while the pickled vegetables were just as good.  Slightly sweet with a hint of sourness due to the sweet vinegar used in it.  Overall, it was a good appetizer which helped enhanced our appetite that night.  To be honest I was already starving and having sour foods did not help at all @@!


Izakaya is equivalent to Tapas where diners call small serves of food to share.  In Australia, this is becoming an increasingly common offering.  In my dictionary of Izakaya restaurants, diners are spoilt with choices such as the over-mentioned Ha Lu, Kanta, Satsuki, and a whole lot more.  Tonight the little darling and I picked an assortment of dishes.  Some old, some new.  Our first dish for the night was the Mentai Mochi Cheese.


Set upon a bed of shredded cabbage was 5 mochi topped with spicy cod roe before having cheese melted on it.  The end product while far from outstanding was a different experience.  Something so chewy as mochi when heated further created a very very chewy thing which I have to say, I chewed until I got tired.  Spicy cod roe felt a little wasted here unfortunately as the taste did not quite complement nor stood out in this dish. Nevertheless, don’t try, won’t know! A good experience but next time I might shy away from it.


Next was the Buta no Kakuni or Japanese braised pork belly.


I’m not going to hide the fact that good pork belly pleases me ALL the time.  This version made by Izakaya Sakura was every bit satisfying.  Melt in your mouth bits of pork doused with sake-fragranced sauce was lip smacking.  Also, do not be put off by the liquid-y sauce as the perfect balance of sweet and saltiness is good!  A bowl of rice complimented this dish perfectly.  Also, do not leave out the poor mustard as it has a good chemistry with the pork belly.


Next was the Agedashi Tofu which is one of the little darling’s favourite.


While some places tend to deviate from the traditional way of serving this bean curd dish, Izakaya Sakura served it in its most common form which almost never fails to deliver.  This might not be outstanding when compared to all the other restaurants, but as a bean curd lover, keeping up with the standard was all I needed.


Next was the Karaage with a Citrus Ponzu sauce.


While KFC has been keeping their special recipe a secret for many years now, they did not realise that the Japanese does not even need it.  One of the worst kept Japanese secrets has got to be the Kaarage which despites its simplicity, never fails to deliver to this unhealthy appetite of mine.  Crispy yet tender and with a marinade that is tonnes more appetizing than a KFC, this was yums!  If there was anything there which I could fault with, it has got to be the rate the citrus sauce made the chicken soft.  Otherwise, this was good :)!   Other than these dishes, we also called a sashimi which to me was terrifying.  But darling nevertheless help devour those 1/2 inch thick salmon slices which is so ewww!


We finished the night with a simple dessert called Taiyaki which simply means Japanese pancake filled with red bean paste with green tea ice-cream!


Darling’s a dessert lover and I can tell that she enjoyed this.  While we were expecting the pancake to have a crispy wafer shell, it was none of that and turned out soggy instead.  But fret we shall not as the green tea – red bean combination never fails to deliver.  The ice cream by itself was just spot on.  Green tea was refreshing and did not leave any powdery  sensation on my palette.  Creamy in each scoop. WoW! The weather is scorching today and damn I would like a serve of Taiyaki!


If anyone were to ask me whether I’d recommend Izakaya Sakura, I would.   Despite ordering quite a fair bit of food, the total bill was somewhere around $70 for the two of us which was fairly priced.  A similar meal at Satsuki was something like $80 and Ha Lu about $90?  Furthermore, the service was really really attentive.  I felt like my every dining needs were attended to promptly.  Food albeit ordinary, was cooked perfectly.  In fact, calling the food ordinary is not really quite appropriate considering it was darling and I that chose to order what we ate.  In the end, it was a pleasant evening.  I would definitely return one day!


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