Being a Westerner growing up in the 70's and 80's, I actually never really had Japanese food until I was in my teens. Even then, it was usually just the Bento box and if feeling brave, some sushi. I'm not really sure how the food scape changed, but all I can say is there are a lot of Asian and Japanese places popping up everywhere and I couldn't be more thrilled! Everything from the cafe serving delectable Japanese desserts to the Izakaya, serving more bar+grill small dishes. You just can't beat the Izakaya ambience - the resonance of the taiko drum, the in-sync announcement of every event by every staff member; the izakaya is now my preferred channel for Japanese food and good times.
I thought I'd share a few tips I've learned over the years for would-be Izakaya goers.
Try something new!
Newcomers may be nervous about trying some of the more daring dishes, but I promise your taste buds will be pleasantly surprised by these weird and wonderful flavours. Go on... live a little!
Share your food.
An izakaya is not a 'one plate' type of place. The portions are smaller, but this means that you and your party can order plate after plate of mouth-watering dishes and enjoy all sorts of delicious foods.
Bring your friends, eat more food.
The more friends, colleagues, or family you bring, the bigger the feast you can enjoy.
Think outside the Bento box.
Don't expect the same types of foods you might see at a typical sushi restaurant. An izakaya is a whole new level of Japanese dining... Delight in the differences.
Don't forget to order a drink!
Your meal wouldn't be complete without some sake to sip or a cold beer to quench your thirst. Remember, an izakaya is the fantastic fusion of Japanese restaurant and pub. You can't have one without the other!