Oh and this experience had an INCIDENT. That's right boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, we had an INCIDENT at Izakaya Den.I shouldn't be this excited about writing about an "incident", but I am - shame shame shame!
Anyway, there were many many dishes so I will just list them out and talk about some of them briefly:
Firstly, the space is a fairly "open" style bar, much like the many many food bars around these days. It doesn't really feel super japanese, but what does that matter. It is a pretty cool space. We started with crumbed pork which comrpised of two pieces of pork and an onion. Pretty good, but nothing phenomenal - but I note that we were told the mustard when asked, was "japanese mustard".....yes, whatever the hell that means.
Corn cakes and daikon salad. Corn didn't have the "oyster" as the name would suggest (so I was told) and was really...fried corn...with batter. It was doughy, sweet but with a clear savoury purpose - I wouldn't order it again. I mean...it's fried corn - would YOU order fried CORN again?! The daikon salad was just that - daikon salad..oh with sesame oil - and a lot of it.
Dish of potato which had some sort of filling. Generally good, but again, quite pedestrian in terms of execution. The skewered duck on the other hand was more what I would expect from Izakaya Den, nice pieces of duck cooked the way I like it, fast and juicy.
Sakata prawns were bland. I know, sakata is meant to be bland. But shit, how come the prawn had no taste as well? The wagyu was also incredibly chewy. Really chewy. I had to swallow it just to stop myself from chewing it until tomorrow.
Dessert was a fondue with rice flour balls, or something "mochi". Chocolate...was good. Ginger brulee (on the right) and tofu mousse (on the right, back). Strident ginger flavour in the brulee, verging on being spicy. I didn't mind it, but only in small doses. The tofu mousse was pretty good, different to what you'd expect and quite difficult to describe. Would definitely recommend the mousse, and also the brulee if you're going to share.
Overall, Izakaya Den didn't hit the high notes you'd expect given all the hype that it has been able to generate. The space is indeed impressive, and so are the waiting times to get in. I would go once, but if you're looking for a major dose of good japanese, there are many many places in Melbourne that can deliver the same experience, less the "surprises", and Mamasita-like wait times.
Izakaya Den, Basement 114 Russel St, Melbourne