Izakaya Den

13 Apr

After traipsing up and down the same stretch of Russell Street for half an hour, I would’ve settled for my own arm (wrapped in nori with a dash of Wednesday-night perspiration.)

Handbag devoid of chopsticks, I called this little Japanese mystery for directions.  The red-sneakered waitress who answered was suitably coy.

“It’s kind of hard to explain where we are,” she mused.  “It’s near an apartment block.  There’s a red wall.”  And she promptly hung up.

Armed with these cryptic instructions we ventured down endless steps and swept a great black curtain aside, scuttled through a tunnel stacked to the ceiling with crates of Asahi, and finally rounded on a swarm of black-clad Melburnians swilling sake cocktails.

This is probably as close as Melbourne’s beautiful people come to eating sushi in the subway.  The restaurant’s exposed beams and bare concrete are softened by dim lighting and, more importantly, a killer drinks list.

It wouldn’t be an award-winning new restaurant without a preppy share plate menu – though I for one was sharing with more than a little reluctance. Izakaya’s kingfish sashimi practically quivers in the mouth and the smoky steamed pork belly is worthy of its own haiku.

We didn’t stay for sweet things, rather closed the night with a heady nightcap(s) mixed up by a very patient bartender round the corner.

If you can decipher the treasure map, get your trendy ass to Izakaya immediately.  Probably beats arm sushi.

Image: Josh Sim

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