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Another blast from the past. We went to Izakaya Den over Easter this year, still mentally salivating over the sweet corn kaki-age we had tried at the Taste of Melbourne 2010.
The place itself is pretty hard to find, tucked away inside an office building of sorts. Inside, there is a long bar with seats, and table seating running parallel to that.
Japanese izakaya is like a Japanese pub. Drinks and small plates of shared food form the basis of the menu. I see it as a cross between tapas and yum cha, with a Japanese twist. And why not? The Japanese are famous for their bite sized snacks, which are perfect for sharing. Surprisingly, no sushi on this menu, possibly not quite pub-food like enough.
|Sakata coated prawns, citrus mayonnaise|
The prawns were nicely cooked, and the sakata crumbs formed a nice light crispy coating. The citrus mayonnaise provided a nice counterbalance to the deep fried goodness.
|Crispy cocktail potato, anchovy butter|
A pretty average potato, jazzed up with an amazing anchovy butter. Forget all that salt-reduced or unsalted butter. This is the god of all butters. Even if you don't like anchovies, this simply tastes like a intense saltiness immersed in the butter - nothing offensive, but definitely brought an otherwise boring (not even that crispy) potato to life.
|sweet corn 'kaki-age'|
After Taste of Melbourne 2010, there was no hesitation when it came to ordering this dish. Sounds really simple and possibly boring. But reality was nothing as expected. Crispy handfuls of sweet corn kernels coated in a light and seasoned tempura battered, then deep fried just a medley of flavours and textures. The popping juiciness of the corn against the crispy light batter, paired with green tea salt, was just a party in the mouth. I could eat an entire meal of these.
|Steamed snapper with rice in bamboo leaf|
|Wagyu tataki, wasabi cream|
|Grilled squid with sea urchin sauce|
|Special daikon salad|
|lamb ribs, red miso|
|Den fried chicken|
Service was slow, and aside from the two or three keynote dishes of the night, there was nothing to cry home about. I would gladly go again for the corn and the fried chicken, but I'd probably be looking at trying the other dishes on the menu. From discussions with other friends, it seems we may have ordered the wrong dishes.
Overall Impression: 8/10