Izy Izakaya, Woollahra Review

Bars, Drink, Eat / February 27, 2019

Izy Izakaya uses its robata grill to ignite the eastern suburbs bar scene.

An Izakaya is a traditional Japanese bar consisting of small share style snacks accompanied by a variety of drinks. Izy Izakaya provides this authentic experience with a modern twist, serving up Euro-Japanese flair.

Previously home to Japanese bar Kenny Rens, the interior remains relatively unchanged as Paul Kelly’s original design carries continued relevance. Small dimly lit tables line the black charcoal walls, while the countertop stools provide front row seats to watch chef Jack New (Icebergs, Sokyo) effortlessly tame the roaring flames of the robata grill.

While the physical space is unchanged, the atmosphere at Izy Izakaya is vastly different. Quirky twists jazz-up the atmosphere and differentiate Izy Izakaya from its predecessor. At the table, you are asked to pick your chopsticks from a selection of traditional styles. Behind the bar, a loop of anime scenes are projected to brighten up the room. These eccentric touches add a Tokyo vibe, which is felt by the buzz of diners that permeate the cosy bar.

If you’re looking for a drink to start the night off right, you’re in safe hands. Expert bartender Atlanta Pahulu (Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern) and front-of-house powerhouse Sebastien Dallee (The Nine) will guide you through a vast array of options. The drinks menu features natural wines ($12 to $17 per glass), draft beers ($8), fruity fusion cocktails ($18) and punch bowls ($25). If you enjoy a light red wine with fruity notes of cherry, their C&M Naturalmente Bio Nero D’Avloa from Sicily ($17) pairs perfectly with the Euro-Japanese fusion dishes.

Embodying their east-meets-west menu is the Burrata ($22), which comes with smoked grapes and chive oil. The grapes are soaked in sake overnight to give it a sweet acidity before they are charred over the robata grill. The creamy Italian burrata compliments the tangy smoked grapes making you savour every mouthful. You should pair this with their Umami Bread ($7), which is smeared with black garlic and wild chives. Think Italian garlic bread, only Japanese style with a stronger potency coming from the aromatic charred garlic.

Another successful fusion dish is Paster No.1 ($26), consisting of garlic, nori and a sake cured egg yolk. The bright orange egg yolk adds warmth and richness to the dish. As you pierce the surface of the yolk, it slowly oozes out and spreads through the pasta to create a decadent sauce. Each mouthful of the homemade pasta echoes flavours of Sicily with a Tokyo twist.

For a traditional Izakaya experience, order the Glass Okra ($8) with togarashi and kewpie mayonnaise or otherwise, the Edamame Hummus ($12) with toasted sesame and a nori cracker. These delicate bar snacks are designed to be eaten while drinking and are seamless sharing options while out with friends.

For something more substantial try the Robata Pork ($24), which comes with blood plum, maple and pickled celery. The pork is sourced from neighbouring artesian butchery Victor Churchill and is of the highest quality. The meat is so tender and juicy that it falls apart with the slightest prod of a chopstick. The sharp acidic flavours of blood plum and pickled celery cut through the fattiness of the smoky pork.

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To finish the meal, indulge in their playfully named Tiramiso ($14), which comes with miso butterscotch, mascarpone and topped with a chocolate wafer. The salty miso combined with caramel butterscotch and creamy mascarpone makes for a very moreish dessert.

If you’re looking to impress a date or you’re after somewhere to unwind after work with friends, Izy Izakaya’s intimate space has you covered. If you are planning a date, leave your tinder at home as the wood from the robata grill sparks more than enough fire to heat up the room.

To find out more about Izy Izakaya’s menu and events, check out their Facebook page here.

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