Izakaya Den

Back in Melbourne, undoubtably one of the foodie capitals of the world, I went to check out recently anointed Best New Restaurant by The Age “Good Food Guide 2011” Izakaya Den.

Izakaya in Japanese means “bar with food”, but Izakaya Den is going for a more high-end institution, despite what the high tables and chairs (with no backs mind you) might be saying. Afterall, this is quite expensive food and well crafted cocktails. And quite good food it is too, albeit with a few misses.

The restaurant is very Melbourne Modern being dark, sleek and sexy. It is located downstairs with no windows (very Tokyo) and in a hard to find location in the city streets with no visible signage (very Melbourne), The Den is run by a team of owners, including Verge’s Simon Denton, under chef Yosuke Furukawa, who sends out alluringly tasting morsels, ala Tokyo Tapas.

Very much enjoyed the tempura sweetcorn with green-tea salt (awesome), duck with pomegranate and  tuna tataki with a tangy wasabi and garlic mayo.

Unlike many Asian restaurants, dessert here is no afterthought, and well worth a look. There was apparently a great white chocolate and green tea fondue with macadamia jelly nut’s (mochi’s?!), that for some reason (the wait staff did not know why it was changed either) has been updated to dark chocolate. The bitterness of the dark chocolate did nothing for the macadamia jelly bits and I can see how much better this would have tasted with white chocolate.  One of the disappointments for the night. But the Fuji apple millefeuille more than made up for this. A lovely presented dish of stacked dried apple slices between a deliciously fresh (and surprisingly not too sweet) apple gelato. 

There are no bookings unless you’re a group of five or more, so come early, or late – especially now that this is THE restaurant du jour for Melburnians. Although I believe lunch takes reservations, as well as doing a $18 set meal – much better offering.

 Izakaya Den
114 Russell Street, Melbourne


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