DLF Promenade is fast becoming known as the restaurant mall, and not without reason. Besides a fast food counter on the ground floor and a food court, there is an endless row of restaurants on the 2nd floor, with more being added even now. The general level of restaurants is fairly high and the concepts seem innovative. Izakaya is but one example.
The interiors are striking: red and black is the décor and in the modest space, they have managed to have a surprising number of nooks and corners. There even is a tiny terrace with all of two tables in it. Izakaya is a Japanese restaurant, and one that manages to be dramatically different from the others. Though there is a Japanese chef in the kitchen, the food is far from pretentious. At least half the menu caters to vegetarians and there are a couple of dishes that few people in Japan would have heard of. The result is that you and I don’t have to feel overawed when we step into Izakaya. Best of all, the staff has been well trained to help first-timers with the menu, without however, talking down to them.
Approximately half the menu lists sushi: nigiri and maki. I noted with amusement that they have a nigiri sushi of okra – obviously an invention for the Indian clientele. I ordered California Roll (Rs 475) Crab and Avocado and was a trifle surprised when a plate of uramaki landed on the table. Obviously there is some trick of wording that I have not been able to catch. However, it is good and well worth ordering, especially in view of the price that gets you eight pieces.
However, that paled in comparison to the star of the show: Marinated Maguro (Rs 625) which was described as tuna in a yuzu-kosho sauce. The extremely modest chef told me that yuzu-kosho was his speciality and on the strength of that, I ordered it. It turned out to be diced tuna (uncooked) napped with yuzu (Japanese lemon) and green chilly paste. No single flavour dominated. The lemon is marvelously refreshing, the green chilli packs a mean punch and neither flavour overpowers the raw fish.
Ebi Tempura (Rs 625) turned out to be a standard rendition of the batter-fried prawns. What sets Izakaya apart is the generous portion size versus the modest price.
Yakitori Moriawase (Rs 450) was a platter of assorted chicken pieces grilled on skewers with a drop of mirin and soy. Each skewer contained chicken gizzard, chicken skin, minced chicken, chicken heart and chicken and scallion. It is interesting to see how other communities view our national bird. Even better was the Teppan-yaki grilled Boneless Chicken Leg (Rs 450) that comes served with the shichi rin – a diminutive charcoal grill – that is brought to the table. Imagine ordering tandoori chicken and having it served in a six inch high tandoor, lighted charcoal and all, on the table.
The one disappointment of the meal was Black Cod in Miso (Rs 675). The dish had obviously not been cooked by the Japanese chef. The fish was too thinly cut for a main course, overcooked and over-marinated with a thick, salty paste of miso. In spite of that single false note, Izakaya is highly recommended for its value for money.
317, 2nd floor, DLF Promenade, Vasant Kunj
Open from 12 noon to 3 pm and 7 pm to 11.30 pm
Credit Cards accepted; alcohol served
Meal for two: Rs 2,500