Japanese sensation in a basement. Open for lunch and dinner Izakaya Den is a cool uber chic dining experience. The concept of a izakaya is like a Japanese tavern with small meals to enjoy with drinks.
So I journeyed down the stairs to the basement and came upon a non-descript door with a curtain across it… Aha! This was like an episode of Lord of the Rings – would I stumble upon this treasure of a restaurant? After a while I made out the word “DEN” on the door and knew I had arrived!
I then walked in to the most amazing chic cool place in Melbourne. Long and narrow, dimly lit with cool décor and a long bar. Admire the benches and tables. Cool to have the menu projected on the wall. Enjoy the chefs doing their masterful work in the open kitchen.
I was shown by a friendly waitress to a bench at the bar. Then I was told about the lunch sets available – do I go for the $18 set or the $28 set? I decided to order the $18 lunch set with the ocean trout main course. I was also tempted to choose the salmon sashimi or the wagyu beef.
It didn’t take long for the food to come out! The house tofu was fantastic with creamy tofu in soy a wonderfully tasty small dish. The tofu looked kind of curdled and was more of a light texture than what I’m used to – actually I’m not used to tofu at all! Love the house made tofu!
On the side were the pickled vegetables such as gerkhin, carrot and spring onion. I loved the way these were pickled and arranged on the plate. A side bowl of lettuce may not sound spectacular but here was pristine gourmet lettuce in a great dressing.
Then it was time for the miso soup and main. The miso soup came in a black thick bowl and came piping hot which pleased me. One of the best miso soups I’ve ever had! It was packed with flavour and presented wonderfully.
The ocean trout was fabulous! Quite a decent sized fillet and cooked to absolute perfection! The fish was melt in your mouth perfection and enjoyed also the crispy skin! I found it hard to break the skin with chopsticks – my technique must be lacking here… So I asked for a fork and spoon… The rice was also great with the flavours of the oil of the fish. I would also love to try the signature Spicy Tuna Tataki sometime, recommended by a waiter and consisting of steamed fish with miso mustard.
While sitting there eating I was enjoying the ambience of Izakaya Den. The place was buzzing on a Thursday lunchtime – so I’m thinking it must get super packed on weekends. All in all the $18 lunchbox was great value – was in fact filling but also a touch of gourmet class. Next time I would also like to try the famous Den fried chicken and the desserts which looked amazing. Izakaya den was an amazing find for me. I’ll be back.
Izakaya Den, 114 Russell St, CBD – Japanese – Food 9.5 Ambience 9.5